The Meatball and Wine Bar is the new kid on the block in Flinder’s Lane, where all the hip kids seem to hang out these days.
After spending the day watching the tennis, J and I wandered up to Flinders Lane thinking that 5:30pm would be a good time to dine, as places wouldn’t have started to fill up just yet.
Think again! Meatballs was packed! It isn’t the biggest of spaces so it wouldn’t take much but we were still surprised. Thankfully, we were able to get seats at the end of the bar (another staff member got us sorted after the hostess told us she would find space for us and then never returned). Though this meant we were right where the till was and where staff collected drinks, and they did seem to congregate there a lot.
Communal tables are down the back, with the kitchen on the left and the door to the toilets on the right.
The front section has high tables for four to the left of the entrance, and tables for two, plus higher bar like seating along the wall.
As the name suggests, this place specialises in meatballs, or balls as they are referred to. There are small balls, or balls in a slider or in a ciabatta roll, but the main event is balls and sauce for $15, or balls and all for $18, which is balls, sauce and something for your balls to sit upon.
But first, there is something to start with, cured meats or mozzarella. I did not take much notice of the mozzarella section but we ordered the charcuterie board which consisted of four of the five meats available.
From the top left, we had truffle salami, fennel salami, prosciutto and capocollo. All meats are served with warm focaccia bread (which was a very decent version, oily and salty, but not overly so).
The salamis were the pick, so much flavour! J expressed his delight with the prosciutto, saying he is normally disappointed by it when he gets it on a charcuterie board, but I preferred the capocollo. I love how something so simple, like a piece of meat, can be so darn good.
And then we had balls!
The first decision is what type of ball you want; pork (fennel, sage, orange), beef (pasture fed angus), chicken (pistachio, muscatels, parmesan), fish (market, dill, lemon) or veg (cauliflower, chickpeas, coriander). The origin of all ball ingredients can be found on the back of the menu.
The next decision is the sauce; red (Italian tomato), white (creamy) or green (pesto salsa verde).
If you are willing to stump up another $3 you can select something for your balls to sit on; Italian, beans, creamy polenta, super MB potato smash, homemade pasta or something green (market special).
All balls come with a piece of focaccia bread and grated parmesan.
J selected pork, red and potato smash.
I had beef, green and Italian beans.
Loved it! The salsa was super fresh and the balls were super moist.
J also enjoyed his and this was one of those occasions where we both preferred our own dish to the other person’s. I thought the flavours in the pork balls were too dominating.
There is only one option for dessert, a whoopie mac. I think this is traditionally an American dish which is slowly creeping into the Melbourne conscious. It consists of homemade ice cream sandwiched between two macarons. We were told that today’s macaron flavours were almond and strawberry and we could choose two out of the four ice cream flavours, which that day was chocolate, toffee, vanilla bean and macerated cherry.
I chose chocolate and J chose cherry.
A huge serving and I am glad we were sharing. The macarons didn’t have much flavour but the chocolate ice cream was superb.
Service was a little slow and I think the staff need to be mindful of what they are saying and doing when there are customers sitting right next to the till, but I liked The Meatball and Wine Bar. It is a little expensive for it is, but the food was good, and it is something different. Always god to see a new place that isn’t Mexican! (not that I have anything against Mexican food)