We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“A Hamporium of Epicurean Delights”
Review of Friends of Ham

Friends of Ham
Ranked #85 of 1,961 Restaurants in Leeds
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $10 - $28
Cuisines: Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Description: Friends of Ham is a Bar & Charcuterie situated in Leeds City Centre. A buzzy Continental-style cafe bar that has recently been named as the Best Place to Drink in the UK in The Observer Food Monthly Awards and undergone a major expansion. Specialising in Italian & Spanish cured meats, the finest cheeses from around the world, sherry and wines; we also serve up craft beer by the bucket-load with 14 taps and over 150 bottles.
Reviewed July 19, 2013

Disclosure

I go to Friends of Ham regularly and have done since they opened; I'm not an employee, this isn't a paid review - I'm just a "friend of ham".

This review's perspective is mine alone and should be taken into account along with the other reviews on this site; I then suggest a visit to form your own perspective :)

Oh yes - it's quite a long review because I want to give you the reader as much information as possible! :)


Review

Just over a year ago (from time of writing) Friends of Ham (FoH from now on - it's shorter to type) opened up on New Station Street in Leeds; they celebrated their first birthday on July 10, 2013.

They'd been on Twitter prior to opening with many people - myself included - following them as they posted about the trials and tribulations of converting the previous noodle bar into what is now one of the best places in Leeds for deli style meat and cheeses platters, craft beers and fantastic wines.

Finally they opened and what a place! I'd encourage anyone to try FoH at least once - and I'd be surprised if there wasn't a return visit.

The owners Claire and Anthony ("Kitch") Kitching have done themselves proud and have created an excellent addition to the Leeds food and drink landscape.

FoH isn't huge - but it's also not tiny either; the ground floor is where the well stocked bar is as well and where the food preparation takes place. There is some seating whilst the downstairs hosts further seating, a shuffleboard table (yes you read that right!) and the toilets.

Wood and industrial scaffolding make up the architecture of the place - and it really works well. Brown paper is used for on-wall menus showing the regular wines as well as specials of both the food and drink variety and announcements of any upcoming special events.

Stools are used upstairs to allow limited at the bar seating and there's some along the back wall opposite the bar. Downstairs is populated by chairs and sofas in small groupings as well as a hefty wooden bench and table set running down the middle of the room. Books on beers are on (yes you guessed) wooden / scaffolding shelves along with board games if you want to chill out.

I've seen people look in, see it's a little crowded and walk on; if this is you it's worth coming in and seeing if there's any seats downstairs or if it's just going to be a short wait.

FoH don't serve spirits, it's not what they wanted to do. You'll find no major mainstream lagers or bitters here so if that's what you like in a bar - this isn't the place to be.

However, if you like to try different independent beers both draught and in bottles with a sprinkling of ciders along with fabulous continental wines, and you enjoy cured meats, cheeses and such like - then this is your kind of place.

The measures for beer are 1/3, 1/2 and pints; many are only sold in lower measures due to the high alcohol content. Anything that's on draught you're welcome to have a taste of. The staff know their beer - so don't be shy in asking questions and letting them know what sort of tastes you like etc. - they'll try to help you get the beer you want - whether it's draught or bottle (no samples from bottles folks remember).

The beers tend to change regularly and season on season too. When a beer runs out completely then that's it - a different one tends to take its place. That's the thing about craft beer - you buy in so much and use it up; no huge lorries restocking cellars here - this is the real deal when it comes to expanding your beer tasting horizons.

Many American beers are on show - some often make their way onto a draught pump every now and again - so it's not just British and continental Europe brews that are the stars.

They choose their beers to complement their food - so again don't be shy in asking about food pairing. The FoH staff are always happy to help in that regard.

FoH have also paired up with breweries to brew special seasonal beers too. Now that's dedication to bringing customers great beer!

The wines are also carefully picked to complement the food. Whites, reds often a rosé along with sparkling wines too. They tend to keep some firm favourites in all the time (mine is the wonderful Spanish Borsoa red - excellent with their food or by itself) but again FoH mix it up and bring in specials to keep the choice fresh for their customers.

Now the food - well - where to start!

There's always two legs of Spanish ham on show; in their holders just like you'd see in Spain.

Along with this is Italian meat like prosciutto as well as various salamis and cured sausages; some of the meats are now being sourced from Leeds and UK suppliers to add a fantastic mix / variation of what's on offer.

Cheeses next - always a wonderful selection - not huge but enough to cover every cheese lover's taste. Again a mix of continental Europe and British are present.

You can choose to have meat or cheese by itself or 3 mixed on a platter and the same for cheese. If you fancy some of each then maybe the 2 meat / 2 cheese platter might hit the spot. Artisan bread, cornichons or olives and a lot of care and attention go into each board that comes out from behind the bar where they're prepared - so you can get to see the theatre that is your food platter in the making.

A favourite of FoH is scotch eggs - but be warned when they are on the menu they sell out fast. Yes! they are that good! When served along with the chilli / pepper ("chipper") jam they make a great accompaniment to beer, wine or cider.

Portions of olives, chillies or almonds are available as well as a small selection of crisps (potato chips to any US readers) and - of course - pork scratchings! Well this is a "hamporium" after all :)

What also makes FoH a very unique place are the events they run. They work with wine merchants to do wine tasting with food pairing, or small breweries for "Meet the Brewer" nights where beers from the chosen brewer are showcased and again with food pairings.

Recently there was a "learn to carve a Spanish ham" night with an expert carver from London taking the attendees (myself included) through a whirlwind tour of the different types of ham, tastings of each and then the carving. Coupled with this was a local wine merchant taking attendees through various sherries that compliment the hams.

The events tend to be ticketed - the "Meet the Brewer" evenings usually shut the place down for the day because of the high attendance; other events may just mean closing downstairs.

As mentioned at the start, FoH have just celebrated their first birthday with a night that included live music and a selection of one off beers that members of staff helped brew in collaboration with independent breweries!

I'm biased being a regular to FoH - but I'd suggest that if you haven't tried Friends of Ham then do so :)

As they print on their take out paper bags - Trot On!

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2  Thank Mike F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (765)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Language

704 - 708 of 765 reviews

Reviewed July 18, 2013 via mobile

Good food - platters of meat and or cheese. Great range of beer - local cask beers. Highly recommended as a local independent bar. Interesting small bar upstairs and a large space downstairs. My only critical comment would be that there is no table service downstairs - not enough to stop you going here.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank LfL_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 2, 2013

First time visit with friends on Saturday lunchtime. It promised great things on here and we were not dissapointed. We didn't go for a full meal but the 4 of us shared a meat platter and a cheese platter to graze on. Absolutely stunning hams and delicious cheeses all served with fresh bread, crackers and sides of pickle, olives and oil. Service great, nice atmosphere and very nice beers. We will be back without a doubt. Couldn't fault it.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank TRACYHuddersfield
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 28, 2013

Ate here last night. We had the Spanish board, some olives and a black pudding scotch egg. The choice of cured meats is fantastic, the quality is spot on.

We ate upstairs at the bar as down stairs was busy. This place is a really cool rustic cooled out bar with a fab selection of meats, cheeses, wines and ales. What a find!

Thank PH1LL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 21, 2013

Good friendly people behind the counter, great beers, wine and top cheeses and hams. Absolute must visit if you consider yourself a fan of quality food and drink. I wish this was nearer to where I live, I'd be a regular.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank tonyotter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Friends of Ham also viewed

Leeds, West Yorkshire
Leeds, West Yorkshire
 
Ilkley, West Yorkshire
 

Been to Friends of Ham? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing