When I was setting up my new place, I spent a fair few of my lunchtimes walking up and down York Street in the Sydney CBD. My workplace is on Carrington Street, and I’d use my hunch hour to walk to almost Town Hall. I made quite a few pricey visits to Lincraft and Mitre 10; returning to the office with bulging bags of material or tools.
On these trips I’d take note of the cafes and shops I passed, as I always do. I’m continuously on the lookout for the new and quirky. And one that had caught my eye a few times was The Original Meatball Company; and so naturally I was quite excited when I was invited to go in and sample the menu one afternoon.
The Original Meatball Company, or OMC, is the brainchild of Dominic Lopresti and Jay Lyon. Dominic – the joint CEO of that little shop called Gelatissimo – was on a visit to New York to see friend Jay Lyon, and after eating their way around the star-spangled-bannered country, came up with the concept and brought a little bit of the Yankee lifestyle into Sydney. The master of the menu however, is award-winning chef James Kidman – he who has had eight years as being an executive chef at Otto Ristorante. From fine dining to the craft of perfecting a gourmet meatball? I was intrigued by what lay ahead.
The menu is laid out as it is. Heroes: Balls on a Bun, Salad bowls: Balls on the Green, Basic Balls, Sides, Cookie Crumble Shakes and Beverages. So many balls, everywhere. My lunch guest let out an immature snigger… I guess the tongue-in-cheek names are all part of the place’s charm.
I enquired about their decision to dictate set ball’ed buns rather than letting people customise their buns, and the simple answer is that it saves time and means they get the food out to you ASAP. Also, its been all thought about by an ex-exec chef – so why spend time agonising over what combinations may or may not work?
I decide to start first with two Heroes. Their most popular are The Yankee ($11.90) and Mamma’s Balls ($10.90).
The Yankee is my kind of deal. Beef balls with American mustard, ketchup, cheddar cheese, sweet pickles, onion, shredded iceberg lettuce, served on soft brioche. Buttery, soft, tasty, and of course it was deliciously messy to eat. Get that mustard and ketchup smeared all over your face. By the way, if you have any strong objections to brioche buns, they’re happy to change it over to a normal. If you’re really going to complain…
The Mamma’s Balls are a little more of a classic. Pork and veal balls with ragu sauce, melted provolone cheese, dressed rocket leaf, served on rustic white. It tasted lighter than The Yankee, probably due to the rustic white bun over the brioche and the addition of fresh rocket, but it was definitely no less satisfying.
One of the sides recommended to us was the Poutine ($7.90). Say whaa?
It was the first time I’ve ever heard of this stuff. The OMC Fries Poutine is fries topped with ragu, parmesan cream sauce and caramelised onions (add $1.90). It tastes like a lasagne on fries. Seriously. Very much s-e-r-i-o-u-s-l-y g-o-o-d. I have to say though, the classic Fries with Rosemary ($3.90) kinda paled a little next to it, but if you don’t feel like taking the bull quite by the horns…
For those of you who are carb conscious or don’t really eat bread, I hear ya. I personally have been skipping bread for quite a while because of its tendency to fill me up way too quickly and then make me hungry again way too quickly, so it was time to take a break. Let’s try some Balls on the Green, starting with The Italian Job ($10.90):
Pork and veal balls with pesto, napolitana sauce, mozzarella, served on mesclun leaf. It’s a hefty bowl of salad, by the way. I can guarantee you won’t be going hungry from this, just because you didn’t choose a bun.
They also let me have a preview of a new item they are going to introduce to the menu, the San Quack Bow (price as yet undetermined). Duck balls, fresh cucumber, coriander, sliced shallots and mayo all on mesclun salad.
While it probably didn’t taste too distinctively of duck, the difference between it and the pork and veal/beef meatballs was obvious and they were still amazingly tender and lean. All of the meatballs are lean by the way – not a single indistinguishable chewy bit. Hooray!
Now if you were truly American, you would know that you can’t consume a hamburger or a hot dog without a thickshake. OMC has got your back on this one. Cookie Crumble Shakes – a mix ‘n’ match cookies and ice cream to create an epic OMC cookie crumble shake. Choose your cookie: dark chocolate chip, macadamia and white chocolate chip, sticky date or brandy snap. Then you choose your ice cream: milk chocolate, classic vanilla, salted caramel or espresso. One cookie with one scoop will set you back by $5.90. Lunch mate selected the macadamia with white chocolate chip and the classic vanilla, while I elected for the sticky date with salted caramel. Ohhh yes.
And they’re proper thickshakes. As in “I’m-having-trouble-sucking-this-up” thickshakes. Which is just how it should be. But creamy, chunky and overwhelmingly good. I think I might drop by on the odd occasion just for one of these beauties.
OMC will be popping up around the CBD with more of their stores in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled and your appetites at the ready!
The Original Meatball Company
Shop 3, 56 York Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9262 9783