The counter is where all the action happens. As Friends of Ham do not have a kitchen they prepare all the food up front and it is certainly a feast for the eyes, displaying FRAM’s impressive selection of glassware and meats. Never has a giant slab of ham hanging from the ceiling looked so cool.
Last year FRAM were the winners of the 2014 Observer Food Monthly Awards for ‘Best Place to Drink’ solidifying their place as one of the most popular venues to enjoy craft ales from both local sources and wider cult offerings. Inspired by the microbrewing renaissance taking place in the US, and the enthusiastic reception here in the UK, drinking is taken seriously at Friends of Ham. The eclectic serving of ales is peppered from offers around the UK and further afield with a bottled selection that features cult US ales such as Left Hand and Brooklyn brewery which are already formidable names in the craft scene. Stronger brews on tap, which can be as potent as 10.5%, are served in thirds and halves instead of pints. The owners Claire and Antony ‘Kitch’ Kitching insist on an intimate knowledge of the brewing process, organising regular field trips to local breweries, allowing them to even develop their own brew with Kirkstall Brewery, a 5.9% Gin Beer ‘Hellkite’.
The ale selection is curated alongside a carefully chosen menu offering local and more unusually sourced cheese and meat boards and various other smaller dishes that make Friends of Ham an appealing alternative to a soggy lunchtime meal deal. The chic menu sits well amongst the European feel of the bar, with beautiful tiling, hand painted wall murals and a whole forests-worth of Scandi style furniture, FRAM successfully straddle style AND substance.
Their ‘shop’ section proves a great resource for those whose foodie friends and family have an imminent birthday. The selection ranges from a humble voucher, craft ale hampers, to a beautiful Serrano ham leg splayed glamorously on a wooden stand- carving knife included! Also on offer are various classes and tasting events including 'Meat School North' which is featured as part of Leeds Indie Food Festival. Friends of Ham are certainly riding the artisanal wave front and centre, which gives no sign of slowing down.