A restaurant dedicated to meatballs? Say it isn't so! Originally we were meant to visit Chin Chin on Flinders Lane but the waiting time was 45 minutes long for a Saturday lunch. We were walking around the streets of Melbourne for a while and there were three hungry guys with me. Plus after the queue at The Hardware Societe earlier that day, I was not too keen on waiting in line again. When I notice that The Meatball and Wine Bar was extremely close by, we decided to head there instead. However with three guys in a place dedicated to meatballs, you can expect a lot of dirty jokes. Let's just say, I have not looked at this restaurant in the same way since thanks to the euphemisms.
It was quiet when we were there for lunch but since it had a bar-like atmosphere and it closes at 1am, I could imagine this place would be quite busy at night. The staff was friendly and helpful with what we wanted to order which was a bonus for us. The innuendo jokes kept on going once we had a look at the menu (e.g. "let us feed you our balls", "something for your balls to sit on", and "balls may contain nuts" in the disclaimer). Not even making this up. At least it's awesome to see that the Meatball and Wine Bar team have a good sense of humour.
"Balls and All" - Beef Meatballs with Red Italian Tomato Sauce and Homemade Pasta ($21.00)
The concept for ordering the meatball dishes is simple. Choose your ball, choose your sauce then choose something for your balls to sit on (they are talking about the base...of course). You get a choice of beef, chicken, pork, fish, and veg for your ball.
For this dish, we picked the beef ball which was made of pasture fed black Angus beef. We then decided on the traditional red Italian tomato sauce and homemade pasta for the base after getting some advice from the friendly waiter. The homemade pasta was thickly cut and well-cooked so they had a nice bitey texture. While we found that the beef meat balls were a tad dry, we still thought it was very delicious and full of flavour especially when paired with the rich and tangy red sauce. We didn't eat much of the bread since we had enough carbs but it would most likely be necessary had we chose other bases like creamy polenta or white beans.
Pork Meatball Sliders with Green Pesto Salsa Verde (3 for $18.00)
The guys were curious about the sliders so we ordered the pork meatball sliders with green pesto salsa verde. The concept was similar to the "Balls and all" plate except that the base was a mini brioche bun. This was a tasty combination but also a mouthful trying to balance the components without everything falling apart. The pork meatball was juicy and flavoursome thanks to the fennel seasoning. My only criticism was that I wish there was a bit more green sauce because that was amazing stuff!
Mini Balls ($14.00)
Just when you cannot get enough balls, the guys and I were even more intrigued by the mini balls on the menu. These were actually a combo of beef, pork and chicken balls which was a great way to try a bit of everything. While it's perfect as a snack to share, I thought that the mini balls were pretty dry though the sauces helped to season the overall flavour. Plus we were getting full from eating too many balls (did I just wrote that?).
Trio of sauces - Green Sauce, Wasabi Aioli, BBQ Sauce
Bad innuendos aside, the guys and I had an enjoyable time at the restaurant. The service was lovely and the food was tasty. In terms of pricing, it's not the cheapest eateries unless you are with a few friends to share a few dishes or you want to try one dish on your own. They do have a breakfast menu when they open at 8:00am on weekdays and a daily late night menu, which is convenient if you happen to be in the area. I wouldn't mind coming back to try some of the other items on the menu including the cured meat plates, mozzarella cheese board, veg balls and fish balls (T and W: "veggies have balls?"). It's an interesting concept that I could see happening in Sydney eventually given the casual dining trend these days including places like the fairly similar Buffalo Dining Club and the Drink n Dine joints.
The Meatball and Wine Bar
135 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9654 7545
Mon-Fri: 8:00am - 1:00am
Sat-Sun: 11:00am - 1:00am