Monday, November 28, 2011

Where NOT to Eat: (Meat)Balls

**Editor's note: Since the posting of this entry, Meatballs has closed.

I have never in my life been so disappointed by balls in my mouth.

(And, ladies, we know how disappointing balls can be, AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT??? HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR!!!)

All sophomoric jokes aside, the much-ballyhooed Michel Richard homage to the spaghetti topper has a brilliant marketing ploy:


Plaster your restaurant with the word "BALLS" in ELEVENTY-MILLION-point font and watch 30-year-old customers with 14-year-old mindsets come streaming in from far and wide. It's a can't-lose proposition! (That's not the first time I've heard THAT today! ZING!)

Unfortunately, as Sassy Marmalade, our friend Ally and I found out after dining at Penn Quarter's newest that's-what-she-said joke last week, you can lead the ladies to the 'balls and you can dress up the 'balls all you want, but one time tonguing them is more than enough. Trust me.

For starters, I was less than impressed with the layout of the place as a whole. Everyone keeps throwing around Chef Richard's name, as if the Meatballs joint is going to be magically imbued with all of Central's lusciousness. Nope -- it looks more like a dirty Chipotle:

You stand in that line and order off this menu on the wall:

Is it just me or is "Pick your balls" less than appetizing?

You can choose a variety of different meats, sauces, sides and add-ons. When we went, the three of us all got the "Platter," which meant our meatballs were served over polenta, with our choice of sauce and with a side. I got the chicken balls, Sassy got the "classic" (read: cow meat) and Ally got a combination.

Chicken meatballs with red pepper sauce over polenta with some assorted vegetables and cheeses.

Let's start with praise: The polenta part of it was delicious. Ally said something along the lines of wanting "to marry it and have little polenta babies." I'd call that a pretty solid endorsement. And the sauce was OK, as well as the vegetables.

But WTF -- my meatballs were crusty on the outside, a telltale sign of overcooking. In fact, the meatballs were the least-delicious part of the entire meal... and when your restaurant is touting its "BALLS" in the aforementioned eleventy-million-point font, they probably ought to be goddamn delicious.

And even more upsetting, the three of us looked up at one point and went, "hey, weren't we supposed to get a side? We never got our sides!" Again, if you're a restaurant that has JUST OPENED, you probably shouldn't be forgetting what you're supposed to be serving.

So the place was disheveled-looking, they never served our sides, and the meatballs were blah. But the piece-de-resistance came next: a kitchen worker came through the main restaurant carrying a trash bag to throw outside. To pass my chair, he lifted said trash bag over my head... AND DRIPPED DIRTY, DISGUSTING TRASH WATER ALL OVER ME.

Holy fuck, I wanted to puke!!! And when Sassy Marmalade called the manager over to say, "Hey, that dude just dripped trash water all over her," the manager responded in a nonchalant manner and said that if the foul liquid didn't come out of my coat, I should bring it back to him and he'd have it cleaned.

Hrmph. No apology, no exchange of a business card, no offer of a coupon. When you fuck up as a restaurant, aren't you supposed to offer a coupon? He should have said, "oh I'm so sorry, here's $15, the next time you come back the meal's on us." That would have engendered goodwill in me and perhaps made me a repeat customer. But no -- all I got was blank stares and a trash water coat.

It got even worse when we went to leave the restaurant -- the manager made the poor kitchen worker chase after me on the street and apologize to me. I managed to eke out an "Um, it's OK," because, really, what are you supposed to say in that situation? Forcing this poor guy to throw himself on his sword didn't make me feel better; it just made me feel awkward. And there was STILL NO OFFER OF A COUPON.

Bottom line, Michel Richard's Balls can suck mine. I'm fairly certain this place won't be open very long.

**UPDATE: This place is now closed.

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