For some reason when the Meatball and Wine Bar opened up, the concept didn't surprise me. I was a bit ambivalent about it. Meatballs. Wine. Coolio. But then the more I thought about it, the more I came to realise how unique it actually was and what an odd little niche they had snuggled into amongst all the other eateries in Melbourne.
Brad and I visited for a quick nibble before wandering on down to see a friend's band play in the Melbourne Festival (have they seriously run out of festival names they just have to name it after the city?).
Brad was a lil suss at first: "Is this going to be one of those expensive hipster places?"
After I rolled my eyes at him, we wandered into the cosy space, which is just simply 'unrefurbished cool', opening up quite a bit at the back. We left our name and number with the friendly waitress and popped down to Gogo Bar for a drink while waiting for our table.
We didn't have to wait for as long as I expected, in fact we even had to ask them to call us when the next table was free as we were still midway through our drinks!
If you couldn't tell already, the Meatball and Wine bar keep to the K.I.S.S rule (Keep it Simple Stupid). It's all about the meatball. And just the meatball. Choose your ball (pork, beef, chicken, fish or veg), choose a sauce to go with it, maybe something for it to sit on, and maybe something to wrap around it.
So we got some drinks. Although not wine. That's not a crime at a wine bar is it? I go a bit weak at the knees when I know West Winds gin is on the spirits list though, so surely you can't blame me.
And then we got some balls. Some real good cojones. Teehee. This place is just asking for sexual euphemisms everywhere isn't it?
We got pork balls, with fennel, sage and orange, with white sauce, on a bed of Italian beans. Whilst a touch on the dry side for me, I did like the seasoning and the zest of the orange was particularly appealing.
Beef balls, which is 100% pasture-fed angus beef, we decided to get as sliders, and have them sandwiched between mini brioche buns with a bit of red Italian tomato sauce. My justification is that bolognese (to me) is typically beef and tomato sauce, so how could that formula go wrong?
And well, it didn't They were freaking delicious. I could have used a tad more sauce, but the buns were sweet and fluffy and the beef meatballs well seasoned.
We also got some mushrooms on the side, which were ginormous, with taleggio cheese and thyme. So delicious. Honestly, the meatballs were good, but could they just drape it in this bubbly, stretchy, melted cheese? That would be to die for.
To finish, I naturally HAD to have the Whoopie Mac. I mean. How could I not? Homemade ice-ream, sandwiched between two huge macaron shells. You could mix and match your flavours which was quite fun, so after some serious (or not) discussion with the waiter, I opted for a berry mac with chocolate ice-cream.
Now, when you order this, y'know it ain't going to be any fancy macaron. So you can't judge it agains that. It's all in the novelty factor, and as I love quirky, silly, cute, I am usually pretty happy to pay for that.
The whoopie mac was huge. Like. Huge. I couldn't believe when it was put down in front of me! The mac shells didn't have the texture of a typical macaron shell, no crispness, but much denser and chewier, which I actually kind of enjoyed. The berry flavour was a great recommendation and went so well with the chocolate ice-cream. Yah-um.
Did we leave The Meatball and Wine Bar full? Not entirely. We weren't hungry the rest of the night, but we figure that's also partially due to us drinking beer for the remainder of the night. Whilst the food is great, I did find the portions a bit small (60g a ball), even with something to sit on or between, and I was terrified that Brad would leave still hungry. (Fortunately he didn't) If you really wanted to fill up, you would need to spend a fair bit I would think.
However, I could quite easily imagine the place being a fun spot to hit up with the girls and have a couple of drinks and more nibbles to share. Or it could be a nice pre-theatre dining spot. It is a place that does what it does well and for that, it suits and caters to a bit of a niche market, which is totally fine in my books.
Would I come back? Totally, but maybe not with Brad. Maybe I will bring the girls along the next time though, and we will have wine and lots of inappropriate giggles. Teehee.
The Meatball and Wine Bar
135 Flinders Lane
View I'm So Hungree in a larger map