On Flinders Lane near 'it' restaurant Chin Chin, Meatball & Wine Bar is a fantastic niche with a simple and extremely well-executed concept: meatballs. Plus wine and other appropriate accompaniments for the two.
|Inside Meatball & Wine Bar, Flinders Lane, Melbourne|
There is a bit of a weird policy that tables at the front and side walls of the restaurant are not served main meals, but are only permitted to order appetiser/ starter type dishes and drinks – perhaps it's their way of presenting a bar menu but it's a little awkward in any case.
There's a four flavour selection of beef jerky available and we were swayed by the waiter's favourite of Samboy – that potato crisp brand that was big the 1990s and had an awesome barbeque flavour.
The dried beef, served cutely in a stamped paper bag, had a good, not-excessive chew and full beefy flavour and just a slight hint of additional seasoning that could have been any of the Samboy chip flavours but was meant to be salt and vinegar.
The fat-marbled capocollo cured pork shoulder and neck is usually a favourite charcuterie cut of mine but the sensationally lush, fatty prosciutto di San Daniele had it won this time with its silky soft, opaquely thin ribbons of cured pork leg.
|Pork meatballs with red sauce and homemade pasta|
Hilariously you also get a choice of sotto palle, "something for your balls to sit on": beans, polenta, potato mash, market vegetables or the homemade pasta as we did.
A couple of large sheets of silky pasta like bedsheets beneath the larger pork and fennel meatballs, which had a definitive fennel aroma. We elected the classic Italian tomato sauce, which came topped with shavings of parmesan cheese and fennel fronds, and another slice of foccacia on the side.
This is the kind of homely, hearty food I could eat every day, especially given the reasonable pricing too.
|Grilled mushroom, tallegio cheese, thyme|
This version featured both plain and chocolate sponge, soaked with a proper coffee hit and layered with liberal helpings of mascarpone cream and a heavy dusting of chocolate powder on top.
The restaurant and bar remained busy for the entire time we were there, showing the mass popularity of the concept and venue. Both the vibe and service are spot on, and given its price point, I think it's a place you could visit on a weekly basis.
I suppose I could say we were balled over by the experience at Meatball & Wine Bar and had a real ball.