Home > Beer > Friends With Benefits: Friends Of Ham, 4 New Station Street, Leeds City Centre

Friends With Benefits: Friends Of Ham, 4 New Station Street, Leeds City Centre

Friends Of Ham is a new bar in Leeds city centre, on New Station Street close to The Brewery Tap, Layne’s Espresso and, um, Yates’. It’s the labour of love of Claire and Anthony Kitching, who decided to move north from London and open a craft beer bar-come-deli in West Yorkshire.

The slightly enigmatic name relates not to the comrades of the biblical Ham, the son of Noah who was disowned and cursed for seeing his drunken father sprawled in the nip. Rather (if I recall correctly) it’s a pun on a Spanish tapas bar called something like “Amigos Del Jamon”.

The bar itself is over two levels and is remarkable. A small shopfront ground floor has legs of ham hanging from hooks above the bar. The basement, whilst cosy, must be twice the size and contains sofas, long tables, a porcine gallery and a shuffleboard table. The decor is eclectic, welcoming, quirky and thoughtful.

Whilst the bar is full of little touches that signal a unique attention to detail, the selection of food and drink shows similar care and a particular attitude. Those of us who have been following Friends Of Ham’s progress on Twitter and Facebook know that there has been a dedication to finding the best products from the best suppliers that has involved a number of gruelling tasting sessions and advice from experienced Leodensians such as staff member Tyler Kiley (formerly of Mr Foleys) and Neil Walker of Eating Isn’t Cheating (who has posted about the bar here).

Cask beers on the preview night included Red Willow Smokeless and Quantum Bitter and the keg beers included Kernel Amarillo IPA, Magic Rock Clown Juice (a delicious wheat IPA), Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Lakeland Lager and Delerium Red (a Kriek). The back bar had a box of Ampleforth cider and the fridges contain a great range of interesting beers, from Orval to Redchurch East India Pale Ale. Interestingly the licence application included their decision not to stock spirits at all.

The food appears be good, simple and tapas style, will include a range of excellent meats, cheeses and, most excitingly for me, Scotch eggs from the Handmade Scotch Egg Company, including their amazing black pudding version, “Black Watch”. Bascially, exactly what you’d like to eat whilst enjoying an Orval, an Ampleforth cider or a glass of red wine.

Friends Of Ham is a bar and an idea that deserves to find a devoted following. It will be enjoyed by beer geeks, wine buffs and foodies. It is also a welcoming and stylish space that should appeal to a wider demographic that enjoys socialising in a relaxed atmosphere but finds little of interest in the microwaved meals, worn carpets and skidmarks of many traditional pubs.

Read more about Friends of Ham from David at Broadford Brewer here, from Mark at Opportunity Hops here, from Zak at Are You Tasting The Pith here and from Neil at Eating Isn’t Cheating here.

[UPDATE - Friends Of Ham is open as of 10 July 2012 and will be building up to offering the full food menu.   Currently it's selling a range of meats and cheeses.]

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  1. July 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I can see it getting packed out that near the station though! Salivating now…

    • July 9, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      It’s quite stealthy: downstairs is hidden, basically a speakeasy. A speakeasy full of cheese. I think you might like it.

  2. July 9, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    It’s looking like another cracker for you lucky Leodensians. I may consider moving house…

    Nice review Nick

    • July 9, 2012 at 10:38 pm

      I went and spelled Leodensians wrong, didn’t I?

  3. July 9, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Humph – Lades gets another quirky, eclectic, well thought out enticing looking watering hole. Never mind us poor Escafeld types, already broken financially by traipsing endlessly round Sheffield’s fair delights, we’ll have to spend even more money now travelling all the way to Leeds over and over again. Sorry, but I can’t put a positive spin on jealousy…

    • July 10, 2012 at 11:33 am

      I’m not full of sympathy, what with all your Thornbridge pubs, the Sheffield Tap, the Fat Cat etc.

  4. steve th
    July 10, 2012 at 8:51 am

    sounds a lovely space, two things put me off 1) i fear this may be pricey. (i like my quality ale but leeds has a lot of competition ) and it looks like wed really struggle to find owt in there my wife would drink! – guess im going to have to check out next time im in leeds on an afternoon ( which isnt that often )

    • July 10, 2012 at 11:32 am

      I can’t assist on the prices just yet. I recall that I thought it was reasonable (considering craft keg, Belgian bottles etc) but also that the preview night may not have had the same pricing as the final opening menu. I’ll take a view when I go back.

      If your wife doesn’t drink wine, cider or beer (for example if she only likes spirits, spirits with mixers or cocktails), then yes I can see that could be a problem.

    • July 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Further research shows that the cask beer is reasonably priced at £3.20 a pint, the Ampleforth cider is £2.50 a half (which is great for that particular cider) and the craft keg seems priced at the usual level for craft keg.

  5. July 10, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Like the sounds of this place and hearing about the pricing for beer and cider it seems no dearer then the sheffield tap over here and that can be hard to find a place to stand at times. On top of that then add great sounding quality food, think they have a good thing going on. Looking forward to calling in on my next day trip down. Any assitance on average food costs for sanwhiches, scotch eggs etc?

  1. July 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm
  2. March 15, 2013 at 11:01 pm

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