Many 14th Street residents were hesitant when they first heard about a restaurant that had a big sign stating “balls dropping soon” on the facade. When The Meatball Shop finally came to fruition, people flocked to the scene to check out a classic comfort food presented in a unique form.
We didn’t think brunch would be on their radar, but we were shocked to find that meatballs may actually be our new favorite way to enjoy brunch.
The Meatball Shop’s vibe is casual, with modern, industrial decor. There’s an interesting juxtaposition between being family-friendly and a little rowdy and millennial-ready all at the same time. The restaurant looks small upon entry but extends back towards the kitchen, creating more space ideal for groups and gatherings.
The staff is incredibly nice and eager to show you exactly what these meatballs are all about. The menu features a great list of appetizers, salads, and sides that are complementary to their meatballs. Additionally, they have awesome seafood, vegetarian, and gluten-free alternatives so they are not confined to meatballs’ restrictive name.
The cocktail menu is short and sweet, with our favorite American classics. We were tempted by creative creations of rum sold by the pitcher and inventive Jello shots for $4, but opted for the Mr. Tangerine Man and the Devil’s Juice Sangria .
Mr. Tangerine Man should forever replace all mimosas. I said it. I’m not sorry. Made with Bulldog Gin, fresh tangerine juice, and rosemary, this was so delicious and boozy, without the fizzy, overly filling Champagne. This drink felt more intentional and special. The sangria consisted of red wine, brandy, apple, pear, citrus, and cinnamon. This was a really lovely winter sangria that wasn’t suffocated by syrups or mysterious liquors—very well executed and simple.
We started with their special snack, which was an avocado toast on that Saturday. We decided to continue the meal with the Breakfast Smash and the Lobster Eggs Benedict Balls, then finished it all off with an ice cream sandwich.
The avocado toast came as strips of multigrain bread with avocado smashed and scooped into a ball formation. This dish was well-dressed with onions, lemon juice, and crispy, grainy bread strips. While we appreciate the dedication to the brand, we wish they did more with the avocado rather than just scoop it into a ball—we were hoping it would be rolled in breadcrumbs or inside a bagel hole. We may be onto something here…
When our mains came to the table. there was a minor mix up but was quickly remedied by the server. While this mistake was unfortunate, a restaurant is as good as it knows how to fix its mishaps. Once the order was corrected, the flavors in the breakfast smash were pretty much a bacon egg and cheese, but of epic proportions—with sausage meatballs as the main meat component.
The lobster eggs Benedict was very tasty and I was skeptical as to how this dish would figuratively and literally take shape. The lobster balls had a slight chew, like lobster usually does, but was tender, juicy, and not fishy at all. The Hollandaise was delicate and sweet, despite it covering a large amount of the bowl’s surface area. This version of eggs Benedict was not served on an English muffin or any bread for that matter. At first, I liked this touch, but then I realized I needed some sturdy carbohydrates to soak up the egg yolk and Hollandaise—a fork simply couldn’t capture all those flavors.
Similar to the cocktail menu, the dessert menu is straight to the point. They offer a variety of cookies and ice cream flavors for you to have your dream ice cream sandwich. We went classic with a double chocolate chip cookie and vanilla ice cream. I love the feeling this entire meal evoked. It was something of sophisticated adolescence. I indulged in a childhood favorite, but was indeed a mature adult and customized it myself. Oh, and you can roll your sandwich in Fruity Pebbles and sprinkles. Next time.
The Bitches say: four Champagne flutes for The Meatball Shop, D.C. We desperately needed a conceptual, but casual, restaurant like this one. We’re happy these balls dropped in our hood.
The Meatball Shop serves brunch Saturday and Sundays from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.