Laidback Vibes at the hidden Back Bar
We’ve recently raved about the sexy Spanish selection on offer at 22 Ships, but let’s not leave Yenn Wong (of 208, Duddell’s and Chachawan fame) and Jason Atherton’s second baby in the corner. Conceptualised three years ago, Ham & Sherry is the more reserved, sensible sibling of the colourful Mediterranean familia, but still serves up some seriously tasty treats in a mellow and airy ambiance.
It’s difficult not to constantly compare two restaurants of the same owners, that seemingly serve similar fare and are in such close proximity to one another. After sampling the new menus at both venues – within a matter of days – I can safely say: they’re sisters, not twins!
Although Ham & Sherry is set on the same street as 22 Ships, stepping into the cool, composed setting feels a million miles away from the electric energy of its raucous relative. Ham & Sherry feels much more easy, breezy – awash with blue and white tiled walls that just murmur #holidayvibes. The space is bright and welcoming, with larger tables tucked behind hidden corners for a more grown-up foodie feat. This rustic tavern is anything but basic though and still incorporates some festive features like the open kitchen, buzzing with busy chefs creating tapas-style dishes with seasoned cured meats and succulent veggies.
We were welcomed with a couple of shots of Andalucian gazpacho, alongside generous slices of Spanish manchego; the soup was slightly spicy, yet cooling and the cheese dreamily creamy.
Living up to its name, we were then introduced to a taster of the in-house sherry collection, as a palate cleanser between courses. I must admit that I have always associated sherry with old aunties at Christmas time but, I was pleasantly surprised by the sophisticated punch of my glass of Guita Hijos de Rainera Perez Marin. There are also a number of sherry cocktails available that sex-up this old lady drink even further, as well as a carefully crafted wine and beer list.
Of course, no tapas trip would be complete without the mandatory meat board and we went all out for the traditional Iberico ham compilation. The meats were razor thin slices of tangy, salty perfection that melted in the mouth and were completely mooreish. We paired this with a few slices of sweet tomato bread that effortlessly complimented the smoky undertones of the jamón.
We finished our appetisers with a bowl of crispy, velvety croquettes before indulging in house special meatballs, drowned in bravas sauce. Our waiter readily recommended the braised lamb – also topped with the bravas sauce – which was tender and expertly executed.
The meat feast was undeniably delicious, so we also decided to test Ham & Sherry’s seafood senses with the prawns and seabass. The prawns were mouthwateringly juicy, dipped in a luscious aioli and the seabass was crumbly and fluffy – exquisitely offset with a helping of crunchy asparagus and spring onion.
I had set my heart on the churros at the very beginning of the meal and couldn’t wait to try out Ham & Sherry’s version of the popular Spanish dessert. They were fingers of sugary, doughy bliss, with just a hint of cinnamon and even more sinfully good when soaked in the rich chocolate sauce on the side. Leaving behind all concern for our arteries, we took one last plunge with a pick of delicious Spanish cheeses.
You’re not going to opt for Ham & Sherry during a wild night, with a table full of rowdy mates, but that’s not the point of this laid-back spot. Ham & Sherry is comfortable in its delivery of good quality tapas and is not going to scream for your attention – nor, does it need to. The food and service speak for themselves and keep the crowds continually coming back for more. When you’re not in the mood for the sexy sister, 22 Ships, this venue is your best bet for subdued but satisfying Spanish cuisine. Just to be even more mysterious and alluring, there is a hidden Back Bar for discreet drinks and moody musings. Ham & Sherry, you had us at “hola”!
Ham & Sherry, G/F., 1-7 Ship Street Wan Chai, Hong Kong, www.hamandsherry.hk