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Food for thought: Top universities for foodies

Published 15 May 2014 by

Choosing where to go to university is a huge decision – and something you’re not going to take lightly. The course you want to do and how far away from home you want to be will obviously both be major influences – but there’s plenty of other things to consider too. After all, this will be your home for three years or maybe even longer.

Putting your hobbies, passions and special interests at the heart of your search for a university could make the choice a lot easier. And if you count yourself as something of a foodie, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of the best universities and colleges in the country if you want to be based in a culinary hotspot. Tuck in!

Plymouth University

So much of the UK’s produce comes from Devon that it’s hardly a surprise it’s a dream place to live for any foodie.

The annual Flavour Fest, which takes place each summer in Plymouth, is a great way to taste the best of the West Country, as attendees can browse and sample goods at hundreds of stalls. And just a month after this you can head to Plymouth Seafood Festival and enjoy some of the delicious marine fare that’s been caught locally. A few miles north of the university is Tavistock; home to one of the country’s most popular farmers’ markets, which could make for the perfect weekend daytrip.

In the city itself you’ll find the famous Plymouth Gin distillery, where they’ve been making mother’s ruin since 1793. And if you fancy treating yourself to a night of fine dining, there are plenty of options at the nearby Barbican. You can find out more about the historic Mayflower, which set sail from here in 1620, or you can just treat yourself to a slap-up meal at one of the many top quality restaurants - like Bistro One, which is just a few minutes away from the university.

Bournemouth University

This university in Dorset is perfect for so many reasons – for a kick-off it’s in an absolutely stunning part of the UK close to the Jurassic Coast heritage site. Choose to study here and your life really will be a beach. As this Guardian article makes clear, Bournemouth is home to some top restaurants and cafes if you’re on the lookout for a budget dinner – and let’s face it, when you’re a student every meal will be on a budget. But you don’t have to break the bank to eat out, and it means you can take a much needed break from that extra large value pack of pasta you’ve been relying on.

Head to Westbourne and you can sample a taste of the USA at Genève Eatery. Their homemade burgers are to die for and crafted from three cuts of beef. Of course, when you live near the beach you probably want to spend as much time there as possible. Grab a table one lunchtime at the café at Urban Reef and you can tuck into Moroccan-style lamb meatballs or local crab for less than a tenner.

University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University

A compact foody paradise, Nottingham has a vibrant and diverse dining scene, with more places to eat and drink per square mile than any other European city (according to the local press). Top end highlights include the iconic Michelin-starred Restaurant Sat Bains, the stylish, modern buzz of Harts and the traditional splendour of World Service.

But Nottingham truly excels when it comes to the budget bite. Jalisco on Mansfield Road is a fun and authentic Mexican experience. Wedged between chippies and vintage shops, what it lacks in chic it makes up for in personality. Annie’s Burger Shack delivers American-style burgers and dogs without the self-conscious fuss that blights similar eateries around the country. Annie is from Rhode Island, so this is the real deal. Lee Rosy’s Tea may be the sort of place you’d expect to see Zach Braff earnestly sipping a cup of Darjeeling while pondering his latest script, but the fat sandwiches and gooey cakes are exceptional. If you want to be a culture vulture while you eat, head to the Nottingham Contemporary café bar, where world-renowned modern art, live music and cinema are all on offer alongside some great value, locally sourced food.

University of Bath

Bath is a beautiful city and one of the UK’s top tourist destinations, so to live there is a real joy. The fact this uni was named University of the Year for Student Experience 2014 by The Times, and rated number 1 for student satisfaction in the 2013 National Student Survey makes studying here even more of a winner.

One of the oldest eateries in the city is Sally Lunn’s, where you can tuck into the iconic bun of the same name. “Just a bun for lunch?” you might ask, but rest assured – this is more than just a bread roll. The huge bun is big enough to share between two once it’s loaded with lashings of jam and cream. And if tea and cake is your thing, head to Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms, where you can enjoy anything from breakfast porridge to afternoon tea surrounded by 1930s-themed vintage beauty.

Of course, being a student means you can’t always eat out – but if you’re a wiz in the kitchen it’s possible to rustle up restaurant-quality nosh at home. Eades’ Greengrocery in Bath supplies many of the local eateries with fresh greens, so do your shopping here and you can enjoy top quality ingredients at home.

Pembrokeshire College

Pembrokeshire in Wales is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK, as you’ll discover if you choose to study at the county’s popular college in Haverfordwest. And as you’ll have guessed, this is also a great place to be if you love your food.

Haverford West Farmers’ Market is among the best in Wales and a great place to go and sample seasonal favourites, from mince pies to hot pancakes. You can also get all the ingredients you need here to put together a picnic fit for a king.

Half an hour’s drive away is Fishguard; home to the annual Cawl Crawl. This delicious lamb broth is a staple of Welsh cooking and you can eat your fill of it by taking part in this autumn event, as many of the town’s shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs take part. And of course, because you’re studying near the coast, you can expect to enjoy some great seafood while you’re here. The Artramont Arms near Haverfordwest serves truly mouthwatering fish and chips.

University of Birmingham/Newman University/University College Birmingham

In the last few years, Birmingham has been named as a must-visit destination by the New York Times and been awarded the title of Britain’s Foodiest Town by BBC culinary mag Olive. So, if you’re looking for somewhere to study and you love your food, choosing the University of Birmingham, Newman University, University College Birmingham or another of the city’s places of further education could be a no-brainer.

The city is the birthplace of the Balti, and if you can’t get enough of this dish and other Asian cuisine, you’ll have plenty to choose from if you pay a visit to the Balti Triangle just outside the city centre. Some of the restaurants here also let you bring your own booze, so you can save money by bringing a cheap bottle of plonk along.

If traditional British fare is more to your taste, make your way to Urban Pie in the Bullring shopping centre. They bake pies throughout the day and you can enjoy taste sensations like steak and stilton, chicken and asparagus or cheddar and onion. If, however, you fancy treating yourself, check out double AA Rosette-holder Opus at Cornwall Street. A meal will set you back a tenner or you can get two courses for £14, and it’s famed for its seasonal delicacies.

The icing on the cake of eating in Birmingham is the Good Food Show, which comes to the NEC every year. As well as many famous guest speakers from throughout the food industry, the event offers you the chance to sample a galaxy of tasty delights at its many, many stalls.