(Warning: this article has come down with a sad case of innuendo. If you manage to read this all the way to the end with a straight face then you are far more mature than I am.)
Much like with the Mexican food boom that has arrived on these shores within the past year or so, or the plethora of burger-porn shots that have been popping up on Instagram from burger joints like Meat Liquor, Honest Burgers, Burger and Lobster et al, our cousins across the pond are also to be blamed (or high fived) for the growth in popularity of the humble meatball. But it’s bye bye Ikea café. To get a real juicy ball get yourself down to Meatballs at The Quality Chop House on Farringdon Road.
According to Wikipedia, yes I really did google “history of the meatball”, meatballs come from just about everywhere. From Afghanistan to Albania, from Italy to Indonesia, these small balls, whether made with meat, fish or, gasp, vegetarian have been giving oral pleasure for years.
Slightly removed from the hustle of Exmouth market, Meatballs is a place to enjoy your balls in peace. Think of it this way, instead of as a reward for braving that Swedish flatpack labyrinth, meatballs are now your prize for enduring the Circle, Hammersmith and City or Metropolitan line to Farringdon (just make sure you check the engineering works on the weekend though, will you?)
Meatballs’ menu offers regular balls beef and ricotta, Greek lamb, Thai chilli chicken, vegetarian courgette, and pork and rosemary, all paired with their own particular sauce, as well as a weekly ‘guest’ ball. On my visit the special/guest was a beef Provencal served with a red wine sauce. And like all good meatball establishments (hello The Meatball Shop in New York’s Lower East Side) balls can be served in various ways: on their own, as a slider, with a side and/or as a threesome. Unlike their American cousins, however, who request that should you want to try a threesome you stick to the same type of ball, Meatballs in Clerkenwell doesn’t demand that sort of commitment. Here you can sample three different balls, should that take your fancy. Although beware all you OCD types that hate different foods touching each other, if you choose to do this those sauces will mix.
Ever the commitment-phobe (and/or greedy guts), I went for a mix of three balls: the special beef Provencal with red wine sauce, the pork with rosemary and parmesan cream sauce, and the beef and ricotta with tomato sauce, all served on a buttery mash. The beef Provencal was the star, absolutely delicious, closely followed by the pork and then the beef with tomato sauce. The buttery mash was also a fantastic accompaniment. A friend ordered her trio of balls piled on spaghetti and was just as happy. And despite a moment of doubt when a small-ish plate went down I can promise you that three of these balls are enough to satisfy even a large appetite.
Meatballs at The Quality Chop House is a great example of good, honest, delicious (and filling!) cooking, and if that beef Provencal was made a regular I’d happily enter into a long-term commitment.
Tweeted Review Score: 4/5
Niki is a food blogger and currently undertaking the ultimate gourmand (read: greedy) challenge: 365 days of dinner blogging. Follow her journey (and plates) at http://dinneroftheday.tumblr.com/ and http://twitter.com/breakinglon