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A Home From Home, West Hampstead
April 30, 2018
Ham is the old English word for home and Hampstead literally means “homestead”, so you can imagine what the owners of the new restaurant Ham in West Hampstead were aiming for with their new brainchild.
It is actually somewhat surprising walking from West Hampstead to the restaurant to find such a dearth of decent quality restaurants in the area, given the upscale nature of the neighbourhood.
The decor at Ham is light and breezy with the predominant colours being shades of cream and light green; in fact there is somewhat of a conservatory feel with tasteful foliage dotted throughout the room and in an extremely unusual design, the open kitchen is situated on the first floor overlooking the main dining space, which is extremely handy for the kitchen team to gauge the atmosphere of the crowd and whether there are any problems with the food service.
The team behind Ham is very far from that of a neighbourhood restaurant with Matt Osborne their head chef previously working at The Ledbury and General Manager, Alexandra Caciuc having worked at 45 Jermyn Street and Spring.
The food doesn’t overcomplicate issues with two to three key ingredients but with thoughtful combinations from a chef at the top of his game. Raw beef with wasabi mayonnaise isn’t difficult to find elsewhere but here it is specifically not in tartare form but in larger bites where you can really taste the premium provenance of the beef. Whilst the Devon crab is given careful textural consideration with the crunch of the macadamia nuts contrasting with the creaminess of the avocado and the briny strands of crab meat.
A word of warning, the courses do get progressively more exciting as the evening progresses, so do save space for extra courses. Devon beef main course isn’t just cooked colour-perfect pink but also imbued with an exotic mixture of black sesame and soy to flavour the steak; black sesame is used much more in Japanese cuisine and perhaps also a sign of head chef’s antipodean origins where they do tend to mix cooking methods of the West and the East with liberal ease.
Matt’s fondness for local produce is very much in evidence with his signature cod dish coming from the coast of Cornwall. The firm texture and the densely compacted flesh was indicative of the freshness of the cod and the acidic nature of the verjuice sauce really helped to bring out the flavours from the cod and the mussels.
With only 2 desserts on the menu, it might feel like an afterthought, but the exquisite nature of both dishes means the dessert courses are not to be missed here. Their buttermilk pannacotta redefines the meaning of silky, smooth textured desserts and their chocolate tart with blood orange sorbet is a marriage made in heaven. It is very much a case of “home sweet home” at what is undoubtedly going to be the hottest foodie destination in West Hampstead.
For more information on Ham, see here.
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