The Meatball and Wine Bar is an Italian style restaurant located on Flinders Lane past Russell St, near to Chin Chins. As the name suggests, its main attraction are the meatballs, which come in a range of five different types (beef, pork, chicken, fish and vegetarian), along with three sauces (tomato, creamy and pesto) and five bases (Italian beans, creamy polenta, Super MB Potato Mash, homemade pasta and a vegetarian one). You can mix and match these combinations to your liking, for a total of $18 for three meatballs, or $15 if you don't want a base.
The interior design of the restaurant is very much of a New York style, with the brick walls, lighting, rustic feel and the decorations. Even the staff were dressed accordingly, with a vintage retro style, and this was also reflected in the music played. The general atmosphere was great, and felt like a nice place to relax on the weekend or wind down after a long day. We went on a Saturday for lunch around 12:30, and was surprised to find that it was quite empty. I'd had friends who went for dinner and had to wait over half an hour for a table of two or three, so I'd assumed it would be the same for lunch. We were lucky enough to be seated in the only cushioned booth of the restaurant, which was more than enough space for the three of us.
To get a good variety of meatballs, we decided to go with three of the five, on the three different types of sauces on two bases that we thought would work best. This included the beef meatballs with red sauce on mash, pork meatballs with pesto on homemade pasta, and chicken meatballs with creamy sauce on mash. Each meatball dish came with a slice of foccacia bread on the side and parmesan cheese on the top. The foccacia had good elasticity, and was soft on the inside and had a nice crunch on the outside. It went well with all the different types of meatballs and sauce, though probably the tomato and pesto sauce moreso than the creamy.
The beef meatballs are made from pasture fed Angus Beef, with an Italian tomato sauce on Meatball and Wine's own mash. There was a good, strong beef taste to the meatballs, which weren't too dry or tough. It tasted pretty good, probably partially because beef, tomato and mash is quite a good combination itself. The mash was really great, with actual potato bits folded into the creamy smoothness, for added texture. There weren't any particularly distinct flavours however, and compared to the other two meatball dishes, this one was a little on the bland side, but still tasty.
The pork meatballs included fennel, sage and orange, with a salsa verde pesto sauce, on a thin sheet of homemade pasta. The meatballs themselves had a thin, lightly fried outer layer that added a slight crunchy texture, and the sage flavour came out nicely though wasn't overpowering. The pesto sauce combined deliciously with the pasta, which by itself actually tasted a bit bland, for a light and refreshing base for the meatballs. There was a good chilli hit to the pork meatballs for extra flavour, and it too wasn't too dry or tough. Even one of my friends, who isn't a fan of pesto, thought it was a good combination with the pork meatballs and the pasta. This was probably my favourite combination out of the three, and I'd highly recommend this it if you go.
The chicken meatballs were made with pistachio, muscatels and parmesan, with a creamy sauce on the mash. The chicken meatballs were extremely crumbly and did not hold together at all when cut into, maybe because it isn't very well suited to be cooked as meatballs. The meatballs felt a bit dry and quite salty and peppery, and was my least favourite of the three. However, the creamy sauce was perfect with the potato mash, as it was smooth and creamy, with a nice buttery taste. The potato bits and potato skin in the mash gave the dish extra texture that I really enjoyed.
To go with our dish, we decided to order lemon lime bitters ($5), as one of my friends had been before and highly recommended it. However, when our drinks arrived, we found that they were quite sour compared to normal lemon lime bitters. With the food, it made for a nice refreshing drink, but when you had it by itself whilst waiting for the food, it did not contain any of the sweetness of the usual lemon lime bitters, which was disappointing. I later brought this up with my friend, and we discovered that it was because it was a different bartender who had made our lemon lime bitters, so this was a bit of a let down in terms of consistency.
As we went for lunch as opposed to dinner, just three meatballs each on the different bases was enough to leave us feeling quite full. I would definitely come back again, perhaps for dinner, to try some of the starters, as well as some of their desserts. In particular, I'd been told the ice cream sandwich was really great, as well as the sliders. Sliders are mini brioche buns, with one meatball and sauce of your choice in it, and kind of looks like a small burger.
The Meatball and Wine Bar is definitely one of my new favourite restaurants, and I would highly recommend it to anyone for either lunch or dinner. The staff were friendly and helpful, and the overall atmosphere of the restaurant is great. The only slight downside was that even though we went when it wasn't busy, it did take quite long for our food to arrive.