Saturday, 21 September 2013

Casual Dining - The Meatball Company

Its amazing how serendipity works. In my recent travels to New York, one of the hottest spots around Manhattan was a rustic and cool little restaurant called the Meatball Shop. I was so enamoured with this very popular and awesome little place that I dedicated a post to the humble meatball (see post here). It was while stomping around New York and seeing how fashionable meatballs had become that I wondered why we didn't have something similar in Brisbane, I mean, how hard could it be?  This is where the world works in mysterious ways.  In my email inbox was an invitation to come and check out a new dining experience coming to Brisbane, you guessed it The Meatball Co.

Chance?  Coincidence?  Serendipity?  I just thought it was awesome that something new and exciting was opening in Brisbane.  The Meatball Company is actually part of the redeveloped Fox Hotel over at South Brisbane.  The Fox Hotel closed it's doors a while ago and had gone under major redevelopment and part of that redevelopment is the addition of the New York style eatery.  I had so loved my experience at the Meatball Shop in Manhattan, I was hoping that the Aussie version would live up my lofty expectations.

The Fox is located on Melbourne Street and is hard to miss but the Meatball Co is tucked away at the back of the Fox on Hope Street.  As I walked up to the entrance of the little diner I could see that a major transformation had occurred and a funky looking restaurant was lit up like a beacon.  The front of the Meatball Co is dominated by huge wooden sliding doors that open up to reveal the restaurant inside. The restaurant has been designed by local architect Angus Munro and has a very modern feel to it with red tablecloths and  exposed red brick walls.  What I really loved was the interesting artwork by Adam Lester plastered all over the ceiling, which gives the place an almost whimsical feel, at least when you are looking up!  The kitchen is tucked away down the back and looks quite large and of course being part of the Fox, there is a fully stocked bar by the entrance.

I had been invited along to sample the menu with a few other blogger and media types and was pleased to see some of my blogger buddies that I bump into regularly around town.  We had a couple of large tables down the back and side of the restaurant, so we were all seated together to sample the offerings from the Meatball Company's menu.  Given that it was a share dining experience, we each got to try samples of the different types of meatballs, which is a good way to sample items that I might not normally order.  

The menu unsurprising centres around meatballs, but there is a diverse range of meatballs on offer, with the meatballs usually coming with three large meatballs per serve for $14 dollars.  There are also sides available for $8 dollars and Rabbit Food (vegetarian salads) for $9 dollars.  The menu is finished off with a charcuterie plate, cheese plate and desserts, which consist of ice-cream sandwiches.  

The first combination of meatballs that I sampled ended up being my favourite.  The pork and veal with a chilli, tomato and roast pepper sauce most reminded me of the tasty meatballs I had in New York.  I love pork and veal as a meat combination, the flavours just seem to go together so well.  The tomato sauce was not overly spicy and had just a hint of heat and it worked well with the meatballs, which were moist and full of flavour.  The tomato and chili sauce seemed in short supply and I would have loved more of the rich sauce to mop up the meatballs with.

Another combination that I quite liked was the lamb with garlic and rosemary with tomato and olive sauce.  Lamb is another protein that is especially great as a meatball and is often considered very traditional, with a unique flavour that is quintessentially lamb.  The hint of garlic and rosemary worked well with the tomato sauce and I didn't even mind the olive in the sauce, which I normally would avoid. Again, there was probably not enough sauce with the meatballs for my liking, as I love to cut up meatballs and then mop up the meat with the sauce.

The beef served in a smoky tomato sauce suffered a little by not having much of the beautiful smoky sauce that tasted great and worked wonderfully with the beef flavour.  It was becoming a bit of a trend that there were these beautifully moist meatballs of different flavours with great sauces but not enough sauce for each dish.  This was perhaps the biggest difference I was noting between the meatballs I had in New York and here in Brisbane, the meatballs were swimming in sauce in New York, which I absolutely loved.

I thought I wouldn't like the seafood meatballs but they ended up being another of my favourites.  The cod, prawn and scallop meatball with a saffron and tomato broth was superb.  The blend of different seafoods worked well together and I could pick out the different flavours and textures of each.  What set it aside from the others was the abundance of the tomato broth, which I soaked over my meatball, which totally enhanced the flavour.  

Finally I sampled the vegetarian version of meatballs, not sure what you would really call a vegetarian meatball....  Just balls?  They were actually more like arancini balls made of risotto and sitting atop of a bed of mushy peas.  I was pretty reluctant to try the 'balls' because I am a self professed carnivore and try to avoid vegetarian food where possible.  I was convinced by Julie (from Scrumptious Reads) to give them a go and was happy I did.  While I am never going to be a convert to the vegetarian movement, the 'balls' were quite tasty, especially with the mushy peas (of which there was an abundance)

After our meatball experience was finished and the plates cleared away, numerous ice cream sandwiches were delivered to the table.  The sandwiches are made on premises with ice cream purchased from local suppliers but there are plans afoot to have the ice cream to also be made on premise.  I only sampled one of the many flavours of sandwich delivered but the chocolate hazelnut sandwich was quite yummy.  The biscuit was firm, yet yielding to the spoon and the chocolate ice cream was excellent.  There was a rustic feel to the desserts that suited the restaurant and worked well. I was afraid that they would resemble store bought ice cream sandwiches, but these were far removed from those.

So, my Aussie meatball experience had come to an end and of course I was asked the difference between my New York and Brisbane experiences with meatballs.  I found that the New York Meatball Shop was far more casual than its Meatball Co cousin.  In New York there is a real gritty and earthy feel to the dining experience.  The Meatball Co actually feels a little more like a restaurant experience with more options and more sides.  The biggest difference though for me was the difference in the accompanying sauces, in New York the meatballs came swimming in delicious sauce and in Brisbane you were left wanting more sauce.

I'm not sure if the sauce issue related to the sample plates that we were getting as a group of bloggers, with the usual meatball serving being three and our sample plates coming out with four.  The meatballs themselves are lovely and moist and everything you want from a great meatball.

We were really well looked after by the team at the Fox and the Meatball Co so I can't comment too much on the service, save to say it was excellent for our group.  The restaurant was open for general business on the night we visited and the staff seemed to pay just as much attention to regular diners as they did us, which is a good sign.

As the night was wrapping up and with a few cocktails consumed, the inevitable jokes started to fly around about balls.  There were some pretty risque and raunchy jokes flying around and on the twitter feed, with much encouragement from the Fox and the Meatball Co.  This was great and shows that there is a sense of fun with the place.  I'm super stoked that there is  Meatball Co now open in Brisbane, its just another sign that Brisbane is expanding it's culinary experiences.

**I was a guest of the Fox Hotel and the Meatball Co for this meal

There is a great range of cocktails available also, this one was described as like a soupy bloody mary and was served in the Campbell's soup can.  Andy Warhol, eat your heart out!
I loved the charcuterie plate, which looked quite refined.  The chorizo was lovely and the pickled vegetables offset the salty meat nicely
The wild rice, pearl barley and quinoa was a popular side with the table.  I quite liked it even though it was vegetarian!  Don't let that get out!
The roast beetroot salad with walnut and rocket
I didn't get to taste the chicken and sweetcorn meatballs that came with iceberg lettuce and creme fraiche
The house made pasta was al dente and would have mixed well with the meatballs if there was just a little more sauce
The roast potatoes (sweet and regular) with rosemary salt
The coffee tiramisu ice cream sandwich
The coconut and lime ice cream sandwich
The strawberries and cream was the most popular ice cream sandwich at our table.  It was a spoon off to get this one!
The inside of the Meatball Co is a mix of old italian and modern cool
Starting to fill up
Look up!  There is cool artwork all over the ceiling
The very well stocked bar with lots of beer on tap

The Meatball Company on UrbanspoonMeatball & Co


  1. My friends brought me there and all I can say that their stewed meatballs are so tasty.

    1. You have great friends to take you out for Meatballs :)


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