Sunday, September 8, 2013

Hey Meatball (Toronto, On)

You'll Love the Size of our Balls

HM SignIn the Spring of 2011 Rodney Bowers, the self proclaimed 300 pound Nona opened an interestingly titled if not concept-ed restaurant named Hey Meatball.
Having spent time in Eastern Europe and in particular Turkey, he discovered that for every burger place in North America, there was a Kofta (meatball) Shop in that north eastern Mediterranean region.

Bowers, who'd previously owned Rosebud, modeled his new venture on a business that failed to hire him. Chipotle Mexican Grill. Yep, the quasi Mexican mega franchise. Oft heralded as a top notch chain they certainly impressed Rod with it's branding and simplicity.

 
Hey MeatballRod didn't want to open just another burger place and really loved the meatball idea. He just couldn't envision it. Then came parenthood and the epiphany. Kids (and people) love spaghetti and meatballs. It's been a hit. Local television stations and media love this place and word has spread. So much so that the gang at Triple D followed Guy here During the winter of 2013. Hey Meatball was featured in the episode, European Inspired. He’s just recently opened a second location in TO’s east end and a kid centric place named Hey on Roncy.


HM InteriorSituated in Toronto's Little Italy the store is a contrast of basic and bold. A large window surrounded by white subway tile isn't the most eye popping store front. However if you add some assertive red graphics you have a visually catchy place.
Inside it's really all about function. A smattering of tables and chairs up front, a small bar on one side, a menu on one wall where the cutlery is and a order station in front of the open kitchen in back where the balls are handled.

So what about Bower's balls??

HM Sign1Well, they really are quite good. Made from pork and beef they hold together nicely and aren't weighed down with a bunch of competing herbs or other flavourizers. Just letting the meat carry them. They, like basically everything else are made from locally sourced ingredients and hormone and anti biotic free. You can order them in sandwich or plate form.


Let’s have a look.


HM Hot SauceThey offer 2 house made hot sauces. The green one appears to be pesto with some chilies involved. It looks innocuous enough but has a pretty good back bite. The orange was somewhat scary. What with habaneros being orange and all. It's not nearly deathly hot and has a pretty fruity flavour. Really quite nice and probably less spicy than the green.
Incidentally, the two combined is a nice mixture as well.

Rigatoni & MeaballsYou can get your balls with various forms of pasta and even polenta. Fresh Spaghetti, Mac n Cheese and even white board specials are some options and are quite tasty. The noodle itself in this case (Rigatoni) is quite good (although I could stand a bit more salt) and is cooked to al dente. The meatballs, as I said, are really very good. What I especially love is the basic red sauce. A simple tomato gravy with not a whole lot, in a good way, going on in it. Just let that great tomato flavour shine through. (It's essentially a mother sauce that can be altered to create something else). Some fresh parmasean adds a bit of background.

HM RodfatherThe Rodfather caught the eye of a local blogger and Guy sampled it during the episode.
It’s a terrific sandwich. Three meatballs on a grilled chiabata bun with pesto, tomato sauce and Parmesan. While I wasn't as enamoured as they were I still think it's an excellent offering. I was especially impressed with the perfect balance. No one component stood out but all added exactly the same amount of flavour to the whole dish. My only complaints are structural. The meatballs rolled out of my sandwich a couple times. So when I got to the last one I cut it in half and it gave me much better handling. Also, the bun was just slightly too tough for the innards. I had some issues with things squishing out the back when I bit in. It seemed like the bifurcated meatballs helped with that problem as well.

HM Pickled SaladThe sandwich comes with a salad on which I decided to pass. I was assured that it was a great salad and as such decided to go ahead and take it. Sure enough, it was. Lightly pickled kale, chard, dandelion and arugula tossed with chopped cucumbers and topped with fully pickled red cabbage and onion. Terrific as is I thought it was better with the addition of some Parmesan. I think it would be even better with something like pine nuts as well but that's just gilding the lily. 


HM SodasYour main option in the drink department is house made pop (or soda or drinks or soft drinks depending on you locale). All ingredients are extracted (squeezed, etc) from scratch, by hand and blended with soda water on site. I thoroughly enjoyed my Cream Soda. It has a more mild and clean flavour than the pink stuff in the can. The awful aftertaste from HFCS is missing and with it the heaviness of the drink. A lot of the same applies to the Peach (seasonal) as well. Blended with some apricot it has a very mild taste and I found to be a terrific palate cleanser and quite refreshing.


HM BrownieThey have some small dessert items that are made at their sister restaurant. I normally don't bother saying something if I don't like it but am open to make exceptions. Exception made. This brownie is down right awful. Now, there's absolutely no chance I'd like this. It's basically no sugar added so it tastes like baking chocolate and what's worse, it's gluten free. I gotta tell ya, I loves me some gluten. So if you're into the gluten free thing you could very well like it as I'm sure it's executed well. Just totally not for me.

So there you have it. Some great food in a cool little place.

You can find Hey Meatball at 719 College St. in Toronto, On.

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You can also find them on the webfacebook and Twitter
Hey Meatball on Urbanspoon 

Well that's all for now folks, we'll see ya next time in the food court.

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