I am back from my Eastern European travels! I'll give some thorough food analysis of what I ate there soon, but I must first post about my dining experience at The Meatball Shop last night.
Here's the thing about hype. It creates this preconceived notion that your dining experience will be phenomenal and that what you will eat will put you in a state of pure bliss. I must admit that the only reason that I even considered trekking to the Lower East Side was because of the very inspirational video that I happened to come across awhile back. I was intrigued by the passion, the camaraderie, and the fun in the meatball business.
I got there at around 9pm (after the Stanton Social stupidly sat me and my brother in the lounge, though he is clearly not even close to looking like a 16 year old, and we had to leave because he was underage and the wait for a regular table was 1.5 hrs. I'll get to you soon, French onion soup dumplings and Kobe sliders!) and the only available spots were a very cramped standing section next to the storefront window. I was hungry, and I was already there, so I made us take the standing spot.
After unsuccessfully discussing with our waitress how many ounces was in their glass of Sixpoint Wheatball beer (she had no numerical idea of the difference between a glass and a pint), we waited patiently for our meatballs. In the meanwhile, a party of 6 decided to crowd around the standing table behind us (note: my brother and I were already feeling more than cramped standing together, imagine the situation now). Yes, I realize it's 9pm on a Thursday night and that you're all here waiting for a table that you're not going to get until 11pm, but this is not a bumping nightclub. There is no need to push and shove as if you were fighting to get a barista's attention. Everyone else around you is trying to enjoy their meatballs and 16oz beers.
--Sidenote. Let me comment on how so many places in this area serve Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. I honestly don't get it. It's gross. Who knew that I was also a hipster because we would sometimes opt for PBR over Natty Light to save a few dollars on beer pong nights. ...Someone bring be back to the Czech Republic PLEASE.
The meatballs: incredibly underwhelming. I bit into the naked balls that were slathered in parmesan cream and served over spaghetti, and I was just not impressed. They were rather dry and flavorless. The crust of flatbread served with it had quite a stale texture. I ordered two sliders, a recommended vegetarian ball with tomato sauce and their special for the night, which was a Reuben with thousand island dressing. Again, I encountered an unexpected dryness and blandness. The vegetarian ball just tasted like straight up grounded white beans, and the coat of tomato sauce was so sparse, that it even added to the dryness. I couldn't handle it with the cold bun, my throat was next to parched. The Reuben evoked similar sentiments, and I also noted the luke warm temperature of the meatballs that were served. Now, I'm no meatball expert, but I really don't think they're supposed to be served on the cold side with stingy amounts of sauce. (Or maybe I just came back from Istanbul, where their kofte, meatballs, were consistently flavorful and succulent.)
The redeeming factor of the meal was the ice cream sandwich. The special of the day was orange cream, so my brother and I decided to pair it with a snickerdoodle and ginger snap cookie. The cookies were definitely well made and the texture was perfect to hold together the sandwich.
My brother wants to go back to try the mushroom gravy, but honestly, I do not know if I want to go back. I hate it when places have great service but poor food. Talk about hype.
The Meatball Shop
|84 Stanton Street|
New York, NY