|Jamon baked eggs with avocado and toast.|
With a two shop space, brothers Harry and Mario's deli cafe - HAM - feels like walking into your friendly regular for a cuppa and more. There are baked stuff on display, outstanding coffee blends and meals with a definite Mediterranean flavour and inspiration. There is a homey feel with indoor plants, a rustic yet modern feel and seating of various kinds to suit your mood and preference.
To start the day, there are two breakfast plates available, one with Jamon Serrano and the other emphasising smoked salmon. The Jamon or dry-cured Spanish ham from the sierras or mountains has a distinctive taste and bite on the palate when compared with softer ham varieties.
The most attractive of the HAM breakfast menu to me is in their wide choice in fibre grains, including Acai, Quinoa, smoothies, Granola and Chia versions.
A deconstructed Yeros for lunch time has a lamb shoulder lovingly cooked for twelve hours and then served with a quinoa Tauboli and Tzatziki dip on rosemary scented pita bread, garnished with tomatoes and garlic for an uplifting experience. In contrast, there is a Persian herb Fritata for light eaters, served with Tzatziki.
For takeaway, there are home made loaf options in pear, banana with raspberry and apple with rhubarb.
The staff remain smiling and friendly despite a busy morning. Service is fast and one is not kept waiting.
Maybe more people prefer to sit on the pavements ala Sydney style, but it is enjoyable sitting inside as well, watching two main counters and their activities. The coffee blend of the day is written on a chalk board and mine was Ethiopian in origin - strong and flavourful. The barista said, "Yes, I can do that for you", which underlined their customer engagement. The lady staff taking care of the tables asked if there was anything else she could bring - instead of just clearing the finished stuff.
Pastizzi, which is the national baked icon of Malta, is found here with chicken, spinach and ricotta or chili con carne options , all accompanied by chutney. This is not to be confused with the Pastitisio, a Greek lasagne creation - this has ingredients like shredded Parmesan cheese; tomato based Passata; beef mince; Penne Rigata pasta; bread crumbs; crushed garlic cloves; coarsely chopped onion and ground cinnamon.
For those on the run, toasties come with pork, turkey, ham, veg, salami and tuna, amongst others. I am eyeing the ham hock with a fried egg roll and Cheddar sauce for my next visit! I am curious about the Portuguese toast with a berry compote for breakky - is this a southern Euro version of the French toast? I understand that yesterday's breads are buttered and then put butter side down on a pan to become golden brown before serving.
Cheese, dips, croissants and cured meats. Wraps, Feta, salads, Ricotta and breads in the Mediterranean tradition. The bay is not far away, walkable across the road and park. The cafe and deli is sited within a fashionable hub that has access to Cronulla Mall with all its shopping, surfer lifestyle and village atmosphere. Now I begin to understand why even Sydney siders holiday here, with so many things to do, from snacking on good old Aussie pies to savouring Greek and Italian culinary offerings.
Two illustrative offerings illustrate the expanse of the HAM menu. Chicken pies, filled with mushrooms, herbs and roasted veg, recall visiting an aunt's home but wiht a Hellenic twist. More complex is the Antipasto Platter from HAM, lavished with Burrata d'Buffalo ( fresh mix of Mozzarela cheese and cream), Jamon Serrano, olives, mixed marinated vegetables, pistachio Pesto and Nduja spread on sourdough. Nduja is of Italian inspiration in the world of charcuterie, it is just a spicy spreadable salami and used on sandwiches and even pizzas.
There is also a Breakky Panini stuffed with proscuitto, baby spinach, lemon Aioli and egg on the panini. Do not mind the probable exoticness here - there is Worchestershire sauce on the lamb wrap! Plus you can have your Biercher Muesli as well.
HAM is located at Shop 3/17 Gerrale Street, Cronulla Beach - a 45 minute drive from Sydney city centre.
Opening hours are from 7am to 6pm every day.
Contact +61 8521 7219
HAM also provides catering.