Swan Street. It’s changing. Dimmey’s – long time beacon of Richmond and magical emporium of crap – is now a hollow construction site, while across the road, the new breed of eateries are moving in.
Meatmother is causing a frenzy with its ribs, bourbon, and soul and a few doors down you’ll find yourself in the queue for Meatball and Wine Bar mark two.
Matteo Bruno only opened the first MBWB outlet on Flinders Lane a year ago, but Melbourne went nuts for the restaurant-bar-diner hybrid. Turns out all everyone wants is a cool space, decent drinks and a menu of simple eats – meatballs, sliders, ice cream sandwiches – and that's what this joint delivers.
Richmond offers the same menu as the CBD flagship plus a slightly sharper fitout – checkered floors; white walls with “I’m a baller baby” emblazoned across them in neon lights – and just as many ball jokes.
Booze is a big part of the MBWB draw. Between the Italian Nebbiolos and Victorian wines that mostly weigh in at $40, you’ll find Stone and Wood’s Pacific Ale, and a lot of Lambrusco. Yep, they’re joining Ombra and Rosa’s Kitchen in reviving the retro red Italian fizz. On Friday nights, the place is heaving indoors and out with people downing plates of prosciutto and pitchers of Aperol Spritz.
Along with their usual golf ball sized balls of pork and fennel or chickpea and cauliflower for embellishing with tangy tomato sugo or fresh salsa verde (all the herbs, whizzed with lemon and oil) they do the odd special like peppery, juicy duck and beef balls showered with a healthy dose of Parmesan and riding high on a plate of cheesy chunky potato and pea smash. They braise a good rib too. Lamb riblets are tenderised in red wine and crisped up for some sticky finger action and served with a jumble of buttery Brussels sprouts and dark cavalo nero.
This may not be Melbourne's most groundbreaking menu, but a bowl of balls and a scoop of vanilla ice cream wedged between chewy chocolate cookie discs is the kind of simple, tasty gear you want for nights when you’d rather go out than go home.