I've found myself in a very similar situation. I went from around 176lb last summer to 200lb around christmas with some decent strength increases and competed at 198. I think 198 is a good class for me but it just seems to be escaping me and at this rate I'll likely be in the 220 class.
I agree with what BtB said and it's basically the conclusion I came up with. This early in the game it's better to concentrate on getting stronger and not what class to compete in but I need to avoid using that as an excuse to pile weight on.
As for eat your way up or cut your way down, I'd say neither for now, just keep it steady and get stronger. Once I surpassed 181 I thought I'd eat my way to the top end of 198 and I soon shot through that and regretted it.