|Window gazing at the Meatball and Wine Bar|
My two cents for what it’s worth, is that it’s all about disclosure. It’s interesting to see the trend of bloggers consulting to restaurants continue and I reckon it would be pretty hard to work for a restaurant group and also review restaurants independently. But if you are going to try and walk that tightrope you need to be at least upfront and honest about it. As for bloggers and journalists accepting invites to try out restaurants, the established bloggers and journalists who don’t accept the occasional freebie are few and far between. That means that once again the key here is transparency – otherwise you’re simply being dishonest. I do accept invites to review places, it means I get to try some restaurants I wouldn’t get to otherwise. The policy I adopt on Gourmet Chick is to always make it very clear if I have been invited somewhere and have received a freebie, both at the start and end of the post. It’s all stated in my “about” section if you want more details. What do you think or is this just one big Twitstorm?
|Cheese board at Meatball and Wine Bar|
Now I’ve said my bit, I’ll get back to the balls. Meatball and Wine Bar has a real New York feel to it with exposed brick walls, dangling light bulb and a menu that bears an uncanny resemblance to that of the Meatball Shop in New York (even the font for the window sign is the same!). But hey, imitiation is the sincerest form of flattery and the concept of Meatball and Wine Bar is brilliant in its simplicity.
|Charcuterie and Aperol spritz|
The menu is really pared back, but what is done, is done well. To start there’s boards of charcuterie ($24) with silky prosciutto, fennel and truffle salami and slices of rich capocollo. Or there’s a cheese board ($24) which features three cheeses the best of which is the wet and loose fior de latte.
|Sliders at Meatball and Wine Bar|
It’s really all about the balls though – you get to choose your the type of ball (pork, beef, chicken, fish or veg), the sauce and “something for your balls to sit on” (ahem). You can also have the balls served slider style between mini brioche buns ($15 for three). The sliders were super cute with some tang from homemade green tomato pickles and sweetness from the brioche bun but they could have done with a bit more sauce to add moisture.
|Beef meat balls on polenta at the Meatball and Wine Bar|
Of the balls we tried my favourite were the pork balls ($14) which were filled with a mix of Kurobuta minced pork, fennel seeds, sage and a hint of orange. Simple stuff but bloody good. The plain beef balls with a thick red tomato sauce are also great in a classic Italian style. I wasn’t as keen on the vegie balls ($14) so if you are vegetarian, firstly I would ask what you are doing at a restaurant with the word Meatball in its name, but secondly I would suggest the seriously good huge mushrooms ($8) with melted taleggio cheese and a sprinkling of thyme rather than the vegie balls.
|A side of fennel salad with crunchy walnuts ($8) at Meatball and Wine Bar|
There’s only one dessert option, a Whoopie Mac ($11.50) which is essentially a giant macaron ice-cream sandwich. The macarons were a little chewy but the homemade ice-cream was really good with a smooth vanilla bean ice-cream and a buttery rich chocolate ice-cream. For novelty value alone you really have to order one.
|Whoopie Macs at Meatball and Wine Bar|
The wine list is very short but allows you to order by the carafe which is great. Try a spritz to start – prosecco with aperol. The reasonable prices of the food means this is the sort of place you can kick back and have a few drinks. It’s a casual and fun place and I liked the mash up of old school Italian with a bit of a New York edge. Sure I ate there for free this time but I will be happy to return and stump up my own cash.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of The Meatball and Wine Bar
Details: The Meatball and Wine Bar, 133 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000 (Ph 03 9654 7545)
Damage: Reasonable, but on this occasion I did not pay.