Friends of Ham, Chopping Block and Roots

It’s sad that we’re too often writing about restaurant closures, the latest and most surprising being Friends of Ham in Leeds and Ilkley.

According to this report in the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, the two satellites – Ham and Friends in Queen’s Arcade and the Friends of Ham branch in Ilkley found it hard to get established and the original branch in Leeds’ New Station Street has suffered from a short term cash flow during this hot summer weather with no outdoor seating.

A local property and investment company Glentrool have stepped in to purchase Friends of Ham and plan to work with the creators of the business Anthony and Claire Kitching, so with any luck we will still be able to enjoy their craft beers, good ham and cheeses in the New Station Street location.

It’s good to be able to report two new openings in York which is fast becoming a hub for independents.

Michael Hjort, chef/patron of Melton’s of York’s and director of York Food Festival is to open The Chopping Block above Walmgate Ale House.  The space above the bar has been run as a bistro for a few years but Michael says “now is the time to up our game here and run a quality led informal restaurant.”

‘The Chopping Block he says will serve diverse modern food like aubergine stuffed with lamb and pomegranate, game burgers with roast venison and sea bream with Yorkshire cider, samphire and summer vegetables’.

Close on the heels of the Chopping Block but in Marygate on the other side of town is Roots, a second restaurant for the famed and Michelin starred Black Swan at Oldstead. Promising a changing seasonal menu of sharing plates that open with such modish dishes as cured trout, fennel kimchi and Meridian apple and ox cheek, cauliflower and kale. Skosh watch out.

The booking site opened a week ago and lines were jammed. Roots opens on 14 September. If you can’t get a table we will post our report. It’s what we’re here for!

Charity Flood Dinner

Sad to learn that the recently refurbished Walmgate Ale House & Bistro (formerly Melton’s Too) was badly flooded at Christmas, as were many homes and businesses in the area. True to form, the owner Michael Hjort is putting together a charity dinner to help the homes and businesses damaged by the floods. ‘We understand the struggle people are going through, so we wanted to do something to help raise money for the Flood Appeal.’

Michael Hjort

Michael Hjort

‘It’s been a terrible time for homeowners and businesses that have been hit by the floods’ says Michael. ‘We’ve been very grateful for all the help and kind wishes we’ve received whilst we’ve been clearing up and getting Walmgate back to normal.

The Walmgate Ale House is still not fully functioning but the upstairs kitchen was not affected by the floods and the dinner on Saturday 23rd January will be in the loft space at the top of the building. Local suppliers have donated ingredients including M & K Butchers, Fowler’s Fisheries and York Cocoa House. The Portuguese Wine Club and York Brewery are providing drinks.

‘We’ve been able to create a great menu with drinks and chocolate truffles using kind donations from suppliers and local businesses meaning that all of the money raised can go to the Flood Appeal.’


Game Bonbons – Served with Beetroot and a Horseradish Panna Cotta

Pan Fried Scallops – With Scallop Mousse, Cauliflower Puree and Sicilian Garnish

(v) Grilled Goat’s Cheese and Caramelised Onion – On a Puff Pastry Croute with Salad

* * *

Baked Coley – With an Olive and Breadcrumb Crust on a Ragout of Red Onions, Tomatoes and Fennel

Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb – With Mustard and Herbs, Seasonal Vegetables and a Fondant Potato

(v) Savoury Bread and Butter Pudding – Served on Vegetable Ratatouille

* * *

(v) Rich Chocolate Pot – with brandied cherries and vanilla ice cream

(v) Mulled Wine Poached Pear –  with vanilla Ice cream

(v) A Selection of Yorkshire Cheese – With Crackers and Chutney


The dinner will be on Saturday 23rd January at 7pm. Tickets cost £40pp. ALL the money raised will be donated to the Two Ridings Community Foundation York Flood Appeal.

To book tickets, please email Walmgate Ale House or call 01904 629222.

Calderdale Rising is a crowd funding campaign to help the many thousands of businesses and residents affected by the floods. Crowd funding allows people not only to donate, but also to buy rewards such as discounts in local shops. For more information, or to donate, please visit



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