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Today, it’s all about meatballs. A few months ago it was dude food and before that, real burgers. Yes, the latest food trend to visit our shores is the good old fashioned meatball. Keep up! Type ‘meatball’ into the search engine and you’ll see what I mean.
Last week I was invited* to attend a TwEAT Up to celebrate the opening of the The Meatball Company at the Fox Hotel in South Brisbane. The Fox started life as the appropriately named Terminus Hotel at South Brisbane station. It was where the trains from southern Australia terminated as there was no rail bridge across the river to the city. Though a bridge was built, the Terminus continued to trade in one form or another until it was re-badged as the Sly Fox Hotel in the late 1990’s. It’s had another reinvention, this time as the Fox Hotel with a huge, modern renovation throughout though it still retains some of the character of its 1930’s bones.
The Meatball Co is tucked at the back of The Fox. It’s a casual restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere. Simple, bright furnishings and some quirky touches such as a painted ceiling add to the fun vibe without being gimicky. There’s a simple menu with half a dozen meatball options, some sides, substantial salads and desserts. Meatball flavours include Beef in Smokey Tomato Sauce; Pork & Veal in a Chilli Tomato Sauce (my favourite of the evening), and Chicken & Sweetcorn with Creme Fraiche in a deceptively spicy coating that is reminiscent of the Colonel’s. The balls are served in a tapas style dish with a good dollop of sauce so you might also like to order a starter serve of Bread w Smoked Butter ($7) to mop up with. The beef, pork and lamb versions work best – after all, a meatball is a meatball. They are moist and well seasoned and the sauces are rich and savoury. Sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Beef in Smokey Tomato Sauce
Vegetarian’s are taken care of with a Green Pea, Arborio Rice & Manchego ball in the form of an arancini on a bed of crushed peas as well as some very good salads and sides. It’s surprising to think that one of the best salads I’ve had in ages came from the kitchen of what is essentially a meat restaurant. The Wild Rice, Pearl Barley and Quinoa side ($8) looked attractive, tasted nutty and toothsome and had a mysterious little crunch in it that had us all guessing. I also recommend the Fried Broccoli w Manchego ($8). I’m not a huge fan of broccoli but you really can’t go wrong when something’s fried and dusted with breadcrumbs and cheese can you?
Green Pea, Rice & Manchego
Meatballs are priced at $14 for 3 but these aren’t three little cocktail sized balls. These are rustic, fist sized balls. A serve of meatballs and a side would be more than enough for most. Of course, the concept and the food lends itself to sharing with friends so with a group you could have the run of the menu. If you do go as a group, I suggest also trying the Charcuterie Plate ($26) to share. It’s one of the best I’ve had recently with pork hock, salamis, spicy nduja, pickled cauliflower and more. Top it off with an ice cream sandwich (Strawberries & Cream is the pick) – happy days.
I’m sure Sunday sessions will be legendary as the days warm up, the afternoons stretch into evenings and people will be looking for fast, filling food. You’ll need some meatballs after a Bloody Warhol cocktail using caramelised onion vodka and smoked tomato with beef jerky and pickled onions. A surprising palate pleaser. This is in no way refined dining. It’s simple food, in a relaxed environment and there’s nothing wrong with that!
*TIFFIN attended The Meatball Company TwEat Up as a media guest of The Press Garage.
The Meatball Company
The Fox Hotel
71 – 73 Melbourne St
South Brisbane Qld 4101
Visited: Tuesday 17th September 2013 – Dinner Service
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