Meatballs All Day – NINI Meatball House

Nini Meatball house

October 23, 2015

in Food, Griffintown, Reviews

Restaurants have been becoming more and more brave and creative in concept, from restaurants in Montreal with bacon-centric menus, to places with no menus at all. I recently stopped by Nini Meatball House in St-Henri for (if you couldn’t guess by the name of the place) a meal made up of different kinds of meatballs. Along the dark and moody lit establishments of restaurant row on Notre-Dame, you can’t miss this bright and cozy spot that’s flooded with all white everything and a whimsical decor that proves to be a lifestyle Instagrammer’s wet-dream.

The menu features 16 different kinds of meatballs all served with their respective sauces with gluten free and vegetarian options available. I’ve made meatballs before and exciting kinds of meatballs. I’ve got recipes that go further than your typical Italian meatball that often comes out like a meatloaf popper so I was kind of anxious to see if Nini’s would taste as good as my balls.

The appetizers were a great selection of salads, tartars and a random melon gazpacho. We looked past the starters and dug right into the balls. Tuna and spicy mayo – similar to a crab cake. The fried panko crust held the ball together nicely and gave each mouthful of tuna a great crunch. The spicy mayo wasn’t very spicy but did compliment the meatball well, as it does with most fried things.

Pork chorizo and chimichuri sauce – The meatball was unctuous and fatty, which was remedied by the sharp chimichuri cutting right through and brightening each bite. It was tasty, but the sauce separated leaving the parsley and garlic on top of the meatballs as it sat in a pool of oil and vinegar (which had started to separate as well.)

Shrimp and pork meatball with a Thai peanut sauce. Couldn’t taste the pork or shrimp as it was drowned in this thin peanut butter sauce – which I don’t know what rationalized it as being “Thai”. Peanuts? Might as well have called it a shu mai in Skippy hunan sauce. What tasted the best in the meatball was the delicious cultural appropriation and sweet sweet culinary stereotype.

Probably my favourite of the evening, beef cheddar [sic], bacon, and smoked BBQ sauce. It was hearty and tasty and most importantly, it was honest. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for different kinds of meatballs, but this one was executed most successfully because it was kept simple.

For sides we ordered eggplant caponata and mashed potatoes. The eggplant stew and mash was a nice accompaniment to the meatballs, and helped make the meatball experience feel more like a “meal”.

Desserts were a combination of ice cream sandwiches and small sweets made in house (or so we were told). A choice of four different ice creams to be sandwiched in between four different cookies to make (duh) ice cream sandwiches. Pretty basic, you can never go wrong with an ice cream sandwich – which more restaurants should do. The cookies were cold, as I imagine they should be to be able to hold the ice cream – molten chewy cookies would just disintegrate. We also had an unfortunate strawberry and rhubarb tartelette.

Since when was two squares of puff pastry layered with out of season fruits considered a “tartelette”? Maybe a mille-feuille… or “deux-feuille“. The compote was cold, sour and insulting. This thing was as much of a tartelette as it was a sweet fruit lasagna or patio furniture – none of the above.

The room was relatively full and of the 26 people there, I was one of four holding it down representing #teamtestosterone. It was a pretty space, delicate accoutrements on the walls, waiters with beards and top-buns… did I feel awkward and out of place there? You bet your balls I did.

NINI Meatball House
1752 notre dame ouest
Great for vegetarians and gluten sensitivity.

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