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Perhaps the only silver lining that came from returning to work on the 2nd January (Yup, that’s the day that follows New Year’s Day) was being able to fit in a lunch adventure thanks to our practically empty to-do list. The three of us (JP and YHL) decided to take a short trip into the city with a list of restaurants in mind. At the very top of that list was the Meatball & Wine Bar.
Walking up Flinders Lane towards the restaurant, we noticed that the city was significantly less busier than usual. With a good portion of the working population NOT at work, we were feeling more and more confident about securing a table at the MBWB.
Huzzah to spots! So many free spots!
On another note, the emptier restaurant was a stark contrast to the times I had previously walked by the venue and seen it chock-full of people.
The abundance of wooden tones and the layout of the interior reminded me of a modern-day and trendier Western-style saloon. Minus the cowboys and pistols.
Vegetarian balls (cauliflower, chickpeas, and coriander), with red Italian tomato sauce.
I wouldn’t have thought it for a place that has the word MEATBALL in its name but there is a vegetarian option on their menu!
Pork balls (fennel, sage, and orange), with green pesto salsa verde.
YHL’s pork with pesto combination was a super flavoursome one that makes me salivate even now. It was the fennel in the meatballs’ description that deterred me from ordering them (thanks to that icky liquorice-like taste) but as it turned out, it was also the fennel flavour that paired perfectly with the pesto. The combination resulted in one explosive party of aromatic flavours. The piece of focaccia bread (which comes with all standard meatball orders) was fresh and springy, and its crust was quite crisp. Perfect for dipping into the sauce.
Chicken balls (pistachio, muscatels, and parmesan), with red Italian tomato sauce. Served with super MB potato smash.
After swapping and trying one of the pork balls, the chicken meatballs and their lighter seasoning tasted comparatively bland. Think full blown out rager (pork) vs. a small dinner party (chicken). The pistachio taste was non-existent and its occasional presence could only be detected thanks to their texture. The mince itself was of great quality and perfectly cooked: tender and not too dry. The tempting thought to stealthily swap another one of my meatballs for a tastier pork one had crossed my mind but I was fairly certain that YHL would have noticed. The green color was a dead giveaway.
The accompanying smashed potato on the other hand was AMAZING. It ranked quite highly, sitting right alongside my memories of eating truffled mash potato. Now that’s really saying something! The potato was super smooth and fluffy but was a little more textured than normal mash thanks to the attached potato skin. The skin provided a thin crunchy chewiness. With a creamy bechamel-like sauce mixed throughout the potato and a sprinkling of herbs, each melting mouthful made me go mmmmmmmmmmm. Aloud. At first. Each subsequent mmmmm was made quietly in my head for fear of looking/sounding like a creep.
As succinctly put in the name of this establishment, the Meatball & Wine Bar is where you need to go if you’re on the hunt for some good tasting meatballs. And potato smash. Oh, and there’s probably some nice wines too for all you wino folks out there.
Meatball & Wine Bar
135 Flinders Lane,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9654 7545