Who would have thought there would be such a thing as a Melbourne meatball ‘scene’? Well, the latest entrant on the meatball market is Meatballs & Sons in Fitzroy.
I first dined at Meatball & Sons through an invitation but I liked it so much that I returned with my family a few weeks later for Sunday lunch. This review is based on the latter meal.
The restaurant has been designed by Kano Hollamby (who also designed the look and feel of Miss Chu) and the double storey building is inspired by one of the owner’s grandmother’s general store back in Old Blighty. The tall shelves are stacked with jars, flour canisters and bread baskets, with a tempting penny lolly jar beckoning the kids.
Period elements have been retained, from the fireplaces to the tinted glass windows. You’ll find timber panelling and pastel tiles as well as a huge blow up of a vintage poster of a Victorian era ride with the word ‘meatballs’ emblazoned on it.
The ethos of Meatball & Sons is a commitment to tasty, wholesome food. The meat is organic, grass fed or free range, produce is mainly local and there’s even a herb garden for the kitchen in the narrow gap along the outside wall.
When I think of meatballs I usually think of Italian food but on the menu at Meatball & Sons you’ll find international flavours, all $16 for 5 balls.
As a benchmark we started with the traditional meatballs of slow braised beef. The kitchen brought out all the elements separately in case the kids didn’t want to include the spinach or have the meatballs rolling in sugo. An unexpected surprise of oozing bocconcini was found at the centre of each meatball.
Next up with the Achiote Mexican beefballs with a mild chipotle chilli sauceand soft mini tortillas. The flavours of garlic, onion and coriander gave the meatballs an aromatic base topped off by a hit of chipotle chilli sauce. Not spicy at all if you fear heat.
My favourite were the Thai meat balls. The loosely packed meatballs contained the classic combination of ginger, coriander and lemongrass but the highlight was the slice of crunchy tempura eggplant on which each meatball was placed.
You can pair the meatballs with a classic pappardelle or even better go for the decadent whipped potato mash. For a more unusual greens combo try the succotash, a Native American salad of warm broad beans and corn. Incidentally, all of the sides are $4-5 which I thought was very reasonable.
Lighter options include sliders and salads though M thought her chicken salad was pretty small for $16 and it wasn’t particularly exciting.
The house soft drinks ($4.50) come from giant glass dispensers, with a pretty cherry and basil crush and a minty lemonade on offer.
Desserts depart from the ‘ball’ theme, except if you go for the Rickett’s Point Ice Cream Cones ($12, 3 cones). The presentation was stunning and it’s definitely a dessert to share – the difficulty is choosing between cherry ripe, vanilla caramel and chocolate orange. The cones had been dipped in chocolate and nuts and inside contained cubes of jelly.
Meatball & Sons have taken a simple, homemade dish and made it restaurant quality. It’s a great local to have – you can pop in for an after work drink and a bite, enjoy Sunday lunch with the family or have a party in the private dining area. They even deliver to locals when the weather’s too inclement to venture outside.