Friends of Ham, Leeds
Good bread, good ham, good cheese and a glass of wine or a pint of micro-brewery ale. What more do you need, except perhaps a drizzle of olive oil, a few olives and somewhere nice to eat it?
Well you get all that at Friends of Ham. A bar and charcuterie in the grimy and insignificant New Station Street, the one you rush along on the way to the station or the multi-storey car park.
But wohwa! Slow down. If you’ve time to kill before a train, there is no better place to chill. It was a bit cramped upstairs until they expanded next door. There is wine, but beer is their thing with a list of 100 odd bottles from around the world: Hop Rod Rye from the US, Scottish Brew Dog and Yorkshire’s raspberry beer from Sam Smith. And there’s a changing roster on draught: Madness IPA, Brodies Dalston Black, Imperial Smog Almighty. Or order a little wooden tray of six sample glasses.
Food is simple and fabulously good. Basically it is good ham. The Spanish kind that is pinioned to a ham stand and is carved thinly and tastes, sweet, earthy and ancient. The top of the range, pata negra, Ibérico Bellota is a pricey £17.50 a plate, but most plates average £7 for the likes of prosciutto, chorizo, Tuscan or Catalan salami, lardo and our choice Salata Malenca, actually a sweet and tender cured beef from Lombardy. Plates come with bread doused in olive oil, pickles, gherkins, olives and that’s it.
You can have cheese if you prefer: Kirkhams Lancashire, aged Cheddar and the deliciously blue Young Buck.
Most of all it’s the quality of what they serve that makes ‘Friends’ so good.
Owners Anthony and Claire Kitching who inspired by the food stalls of Maltby Street Market in Bermondsey took a punt on Leeds and we’re happy to report it has taken off big time. Good to know then that independent enterprise is alive and kicking in a sea of restaurant chains. So take our advice and hurry along and make friends with ham.
Now with a branch in Ilkley.