Review: The Meatball Bar, Mt Lawley

Words by: Michael Winsall

Balls. We all love them, some more than others. As is the case with the newly opened Meatball Bar in Mt Lawley, the latest saucy offering from the people behind the original meatball bar in Leederville.

I’ll admit that the reason I chose to review this restaurant is, driving past at 4 o’clock in the morning during the post-13 hour shift haze, seeing a lit up Broadway sign that appears to read “eat balls” was just too appealing. So, combining my hipster love of boutique gourmet items and making decisions based solely on vain appearances, I headed in.

As I walked in, I was motioned to the counter by the friendly waitress, a short but awkward conversation about where I would sit took place. I would say the fault for this uncomfortable exchange is equal, although I’m also willing to admit that I can be incredibly awkward in unfamiliar situations (just call me Tony Abbott). After sitting down and ordering a Pressman’s cider ($10 – a bit steep for what I would personally call a middle of the road and otherwise forgettable cider), I stared down the menu and soaked in the décor.

There exists a strange dichotomy in a restaurant that outwardly styles itself as a trendy, yet laid back 1940s venue with liberal use of antique filament lightbulbs, dark blacks and art deco typefaces, but then has items on the menu under charming names like “ball bags” ($15, a pork and red wine ball wrapped in puff pastry). You could say this place is the restaurant manifestation of Dandy from American Horror Story: Freak Show. You know, outwardly upper-middle class facade, inwardly a small child.

After a while, my food came out: Sticky BBQ, bourbon and espresso pork balls with creamy potato, bacon and pretzel salad ($29). Now, I am not a picky person. But I am when you advertise yourself as a higher form of cuisine, I will scrutinise you harder. So, here, we arrive at the meat(ball) of my review. TMB, if you are reading, this is aimed at you:

Your food is good. Not great, but good. The sauce on the above mentioned BBQ pork meatballs was too sweet; it really threw the balance of the dish off. Your potato salad, as novel and pleasing as the pretzels are, is somewhat bland and tastes a bit too much like store bought potato salad. Now, I am not accusing you of this, but I am saying that it lacked uniqueness. You really went unique with the meatballs themselves, and then fell a bit short on the sides.

In the end, the food was enjoyable. The complaints I have are small, however there is far too many of these small qualms for my enjoyment. TMB has taken a traditionally samey and cheap staple food and put a gourmet spin on it. But, at $64 for one person to have a starter, mains and two drinks and not be wowed – I feel it’s too overpriced. Meatballs and Potato salad do not cost a great deal to produce, so if you hope to charge $29 for this, you better hope your ball skills are on point. Sadly, TMB has just slightly missed the mark this time. Perhaps I will give them -12 months and try again, to see how (if at all) they have improved.