I don’t think that I have ever mentioned Friends of Ham on here and that is very remiss of me because if you were to find yourself in Leeds it is a venue that is well worth checking out. And it is ideally situated within easy staggering distance of the station, making it the perfect place to both start and end an evening of revelry. Although I warn you that if you start there you may never wish to leave. No less a critic than Jay Rayner noted its quality back in 2013. And the business has expanded since then so that it has a larger upstairs space and bar area and a food selection that extends (although not distractingly so) beyond charcuterie and cheese. Many of the slightly more substantial options appear on a regularly changing specials’ board adding a bit of amplitude to the basic menu.
I say basic menu – but (may I refer to Mr Rayner again) when a place is serving meat and cheese of such quality, in generous portions with plenty of well-priced, interesting beverages on the side, basic isn’t quite the right word. Sleek, perhaps. Uncomplicated. TASTY.
It was in Friends of Ham that I first began my love affair with ‘nduja, a spreadable, fiery Calabresian sausage that is desperately addictive. I buy mine online from the Ham and Cheese Company, because that is where Friends of Ham acquire theirs. So when we went to check out the breakfast menu last Sunday, the choice of ‘nduja toast topped with avocado, coriander and lime was an absolute no brainer, and very good it was too.
The breakfast / brunch market is definitely becoming a thing - which I quite like, especially when you get places like Friends of Ham offering something a bit different from a bacon sarnie on sliced white. D had a Chorizo Monsieur, a pleasing fusion of Spanish spice with French indulgence. Other offerings included smoked mackerel and cream cheese and Portobello mushrooms with poached eggs, spinach and béarnaise – which actually sounded like a really nice dish rather than a tacked on, obligatory veggie option. They don’t have a lot of kitchen space at Friends of Ham, so it’s mostly a variation of things on toast, but it is nice things on excellent, nutty toast, washed down with good coffee.
One very small thing – I do NOT understand why you would serve hot coffee in a glass with no handle. It is unnecessary and impractical. Since I am generally drinking good local ales or wine when I’m in there, I’m not going to let it bother me too much. Any place that sources and serves such consistently yummy things is one worth treasuring. Not to mention that any place that is good enough for Jay Rayner is surely good enough for me.