Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Meatballs, DC

UPDATE: This restaurant has permanently closed.

I know what you are thinking -- did I really go to a place called, "Meatballs?" Why, yes I did. Do they really sell just meatballs? Mostly, but there is a vegan lentil ball as well. This new restaurant has been overhyped to the max. There has actually been a lot of controversy over whether famed chef, Michel Richard, whose name backs the restaurant is really involved and, in fact, he came out and said that he wasn't, so one might wonder what this place is really all about.

Well, you can't miss the pink neon sign in Penn Quarter. They have a great location just around the corner from Oyamel and Jaleo, but that is about the only thing that is great about this place.

When I walked in, I felt like I was in a burger joint. The tables and chairs were reminiscent of a typical fast food joint and the decor left much to be desired. We walked to the back and took a look at the menu.

The first step is to pick your balls -- that was easy - lentil. The second step is to choose "how you like 'em."  I immediately asked the guy behind the counter if the polenta was vegan. He told me it was polenta. Wow - that was helpful. Thanks, Einstein. So, I asked the manager if it was vegan and got an unreassuring answer that it was. I asked some clarifying questions and he continued to tell me that it was vegan, but didn't really know what was in it. Oh, boy. I decided to trust him (big mistake!) and ordered the platter, which is balls served over polenta with a side. Third, you sauce 'em.  I chose the red pepper sauce because the morel mushroom sauce was not marked vegetarian. Come to find out it is at least vegetarian, if not vegan, but just isn't marked appropriately. The fourth step is to enhance 'em. The only vegan toppings were peppers so I chose to top it with some hot peppers.

Lastly, you choose your side. I asked if the spinach was vegan and the manager told me it had just a little bit of butter. He said it as if I could eat it because there was only a little bit. That annoyed me. I asked if any of the sides were vegan and he said the salad was, but the dressing wasn't. Great, so I'll take some plain lettuce on the side.

We tried to find a seat away from the doors, but no such luck. There really isn't any way to escape the cold air from the two doors on either side of the dining room. Why they don't lock one when it is below 50-degrees, I don't know. Anyway, as soon as I took a bite of the polenta, I was pretty sure it wasn't vegan.

I walked up and spoke to the manager again and he told me it was. I demanded to know what was in it and again he said he couldn't tell me. I went back to my table and tried the lentil balls. They were seasoned with curry powder so they had an Indian taste that I was not expecting. I had really expected an Italian taste. Neither one of us liked them. They didn't taste fresh, but considering that this place has no chef, that isn't surprising. Everything arrives pre-made. I think I started to look sick when one of the employees came over to ask how my meal was. I told him I was frustrated that I couldn't find out what was in the polenta and he told me there was dairy in it. Finally, Zach and I went up to talk to the manager again who said that it arrives in a bag pre-made, but it is vegan. He said that employee shouldn't have told me that because it wasn't true.

I left there feeling a bit sick and exhausted from all the back and forth.  Now fast forward to a couple days later when I was going to have the leftovers for lunch. As soon as I opened the container, I smelled butter. I immediately called the restaurant and said I have a dairy allergy and asked if there was any dairy in the polenta. The same guy got on the phone and said that the customers wanted something creamier so as of Monday, the polenta has dairy in it. But, as of Friday, when I ate there, it did not. I do not believe him at all. Not only does the polenta have dairy in it, but I wouldn't trust those lentil balls either. They almost certainly have some dairy or eggs in them. But, who would know? Certainly not the manager as he doesn't even know what is being shipped to his restaurant. And there is no chef. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen as soon as someone with a severe allergy steps foot in there and trusts what they are saying. For now, I'd recommend vegans boycott this place. They are not vegan-friendly and not worth the hassle. If only I knew how to force myself to throw up, I would have done so. Major thumbs down.

No comments:

Post a Comment