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Meatballs, 6th and E Streets in Penn Quarter - Meatball-Based Fast-Serve Sandwich Shop - Closed


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More information from Zagat:

High-end chef and restaurateur Michel Richard (Citronelle, Central, Michel) will enter the fast-casual food world with Meatballs, a spiffy counter-serve prototype opening in the Penn Quarter in two-to-three weeks. Lamb, beef, chicken, crab and even a lentil-and-oat version will be doused with the customer’s choice of sauces (marinara, mushroom, alfredo and more) and nestled in hoagie buns, or over pasta or salad greens – all for under $10. Beer and wine should be available soon after it opens (624 E. St. NW; 202-393-1083).

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Was in the Penn Quarter area today around lunch time and decided to stop into Meatballs. You can't help but laugh at the big window sign (and painted on the brick inside) that says:

Meat

Balls

Purveyor of Rounded Meats

It's counter style ordering, with 15 or so tables inside for eating. My main non-food complaint is that the napkins are way too flimsy for how messy the food can be (especially if you order a sandwich). They really need thicker, better quality napkins, and maybe even wetnaps. The soda machine is also in a bit of an awkward space without a good flow, so if it's busy I could see it being a problem (although with the size of the restaurant I'm not sure where else to put it).

The base price for everything at Meatballs is $8.99. The choices you're faced with include what type of balls (classic, chicken, and lentil, or lamb and crab for an upcharge), what type of conveyance (grinder, regular or whole wheat pasta, salad, polenta, sliders), what type of sauce (marinara, roasted red pepper, alfredo, mushroom, tandoori), and what types of toppings (sweet and hot peppers, provolone, fresh mozz, parm, and oddly, fritoes). You can also add a side for $2.99 (spinach with garlic, tator tots, collard greens, or white beans with bacon).

My +1 and I both got grinders with classic meatballs. You're offered a choice between plain or garlic bread (we both chose garlic). I had mine topped with marinara, parm, and sweet and hot peppers. He had his with roasted red pepper sauce and provolone (which they stuck under a little broiler/salamander to toast and melt the cheese). They are rather large sandwiches and quite filling. The garlic bread added a nice dimension to the sandwich, although the bread was a little chewy and difficult to bite off. Both sandwiches were so overstuffed that stuff was falling out all over the place. The meatballs themselves were good and well-seasoned, but I'd be curious to try some of the other meats (and even the lentils). As messy as the sandwiches were, I think I would likely opt for pasta or polenta bowls in the future.

We also split a side of the spinach which was so hot (temperature-wise) it was impossible to eat for the first few minutes. Once it finally cooled off enough to eat, neither of us really loved it. I would probably pass in the future.

The only dessert option available on this trip was a pumpkin whoopie pie, which looked good, but we were too full to indulge.

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I think this is a terrific idea--not original, but so what. Michel is, however, spreading himself very thin. He must have huge college tuition bills to pay.

Really? I wouldn't think this is up your alley at all based on your own cooking prowess.

I heard about this place and noticed that Michel's name was attached to it and gave it a try today while I was in the area. I agree about the decor and outer-signage. I don't know if it's meant to be a joke, but if it is it's juvenile and really silly. If it's not, they missed the mark as it comes across very amateurish.

Went as simple as you can get and ordered the classic beef with marinara and parm on a plain hoagie bun. Verdict: MR should stick to bistro and fancy French restaurants. It was the very definition of 'meh'.

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Tom's First Bite.

"The best thing about lunch at Meatballs," he said an hour later, "is going to lunch afterward at Rasika."

Well, I agree that Meatballs doesn't compare to a four-star restaurant ;-) What I had today though (2 lamb and 2 classic meatballs over creamy polenta, red pepper sauce and fresh mozerella, with a side of white beans and bacon, just under $10) was on par with, say, Pret a Manger. The portions are huge for the platter. Would certainly blow Quizones out of the water. Would be schooled by a Mark F run G Street Foods.

The meatballs today did have some sear-age which Mr. Seitsema said was lacking, and were decently spiced. The service line was a bit frazzled, even with dealing with just 5 customers, burning sandwiches and mixing up orders. So clearly they are still feeling their way around.

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I feel a bit silly posting about Meatballs and my $25 bill for two there, when everyone else is dropping a couple benjamins a head down the way at Fiola. But I happened in here on Saturday, and added it to my databank as an answer to the incessent, impossible 'I'm going to be in Penn Quarter, where can I get a cheap meal?" question.

"Classic" beef meatballs over salad with a combo marinara-roasted red pepper sauce was as good as anything else that I've had at that price point, with fresh mozz, cherry tomatoes, and crumpled Fritos. My wife chose the bucatini, which she felt was a bit rubbery, but she made quick work of all four balls that came her way. Ahem.

Between Tom Seitsema's First Bite, and from what a friend who lives in the Clara Barton describes as a "building boycott" of the establishment due to its incredibly bright and "un-neighborly" neon sign, I wonder if there will ever be a second Meatballs. I've been a fan of pretty much ever restaurant that has occupied space in that building (Potato Valley Cafe [closed], Luke's Lobster, and this), but for whatever reason, nothing really seems to really rock 'n roll there, at least when I visit.

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No DaRiv18, this is what DonRockwell is all about!

I really like the subs and the tator tots. I had lamb meatballs with red sauce and banana peppers. The choice of meat in your meatball is nice, I like the toppings, the staff was really nice. The lamb meatballs had some interesting spices in them that I liked. And you are right, sometimes it is key to get a quick bite in this area before a show when you are running late or etc. I love meatball subs, in a way I am almost ashamed of. I even like the Sheetz ones. But these are definitely better. Not like life changing, but a good sandwich. And really tater tots are hard to not be good in a school lunch awesomeness type of way. I will definitely be back.

Hubby had meatballs with mushroom sauce on pasta that he really liked. I would suspect they probably do a good weekday lunch business, it was pretty slow when I was in before a movie at the IMAX on the weekend.

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and from what a friend who lives in the Clara Barton describes as a "building boycott" of the establishment due to its incredibly bright and "un-neighborly" neon sign, I wonder if there will ever be a second Meatballs. . . nothing really seems to really rock 'n roll there, at least when I visit.

Same friend tells me today is their last day of operations, fwiw.

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Now how did he fuck this up? We passed the Meatball Shop (the original one) last night and it was packed. It has spawned 2 other locations, with a 3rd in the works, as well as a cookbook. What's so hard about making decent meatballs and selling them for a decent price?

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Now how did he fuck this up? We passed the Meatball Shop (the original one) last night and it was packed. It has spawned 2 other locations, with a 3rd in the works, as well as a cookbook. What's so hard about making decent meatballs and selling them for a decent price?

Depends who "he" is - neither Richard nor Bucher have been involved with this project for awhile now.

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I don't quite get it either. I had it in a heavy rotation on the weekends, where I could take my toddler and infant to Portrait Museum courthouse to play in the shallow pool and head over for a decent, cheap bite. I guess now we'll head to Teaism. But they really upset the condo by installing that neon sign. How you can be successful when 500 units above you have agreed amongst themselves not to give you their business? Not saying that was the over-riding factor, but it was certainly the most visible one.

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When are the "owners" going to fess up to this miserable failure?

This could have been a big success - it was a restaurant without a stove top (think: airports). I'm under the impression that they were shooting for the moon, and missed.

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What Id like to see is someone to take accountabilty for the total lack of quality control and oversight. Two groups, one pretended to own this, and the other pretend not to, just tell the truth and they may have been able to have success. If you have a bad experience and you want to give feedback in order for a place in your neighborhood to succeed who do you give it to at this place? Better yet, who would even take the responsibility to make things better. Places shut, yes, however, this seemed like more of a get rich quick, then a thought out idea,

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What exactly are you hoping to hear? The place is shuttered - what more do you need to know?

Have to agree completely. Nobody was willing to take accountability for the place while it was in business. Don't hold your breath waiting for someone to take responsibility after the fact.

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What Id like to see is someone to take accountabilty for the total lack of quality control and oversight. Two groups, one pretended to own this, and the other pretend not to, just tell the truth and they may have been able to have success. If you have a bad experience and you want to give feedback in order for a place in your neighborhood to succeed who do you give it to at this place? Better yet, who would even take the responsibility to make things better. Places shut, yes, however, this seemed like more of a get rich quick, then a thought out idea,

(Speaking as a regular old poster here ...)

I have absolutely no idea who the owners of Meatballs were, but I can't imagine them coming forth and confessing to ... what, exactly?

I'm not sure I've ever seen a demand such as this before unless there was some type of crime committed, or maybe some type of government waste - not that there's anything wrong with it, mind you; it's just new to me. Did something happen?

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Did that renowned neon sign just say "Balls"? If it did, I have some empathy with the condo residents. How bad was it?

No, it said Meatballs. I would estimate the sign as being 9 feet tall and about 2 feet wide, in bright neon. It's not as bad as the big TV screen on the corner of 7th and H, which also caused an uproar with the Gallery Place condomnium right there, but I wouldn't want that sign right outside my bedroom window.

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What exactly are you hoping to hear? The place is shuttered - what more do you need to know?

This could have been a big success - it was a restaurant without a stove top (think: airports). I'm under the impression that they were shooting for the moon, and missed.

Have to agree completely. Nobody was willing to take accountability for the place while it was in business. Don't hold your breath waiting for someone to take responsibility after the fact.

Agree. There's no requirement for anyone to take accountabiiy for bad decisions or a business failure. Just like there is no legal requirement for an owner to even identify him or herself publicly. Taking it one logical step further, noone has to seek, accept or embrace any feedback from anyone about anything if they don't choose to do so. All that said, that type of insular and detached leadership more often than not correlates with arrogance, bad decision making, and bad outcomes. Not always. But usually.

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the business failed, get over it. No explanation needed. Simply put, we have no idea why or what happened and no one should have to explain.

Absolutely. This isn't government where citizens rightfully demand transparency. This is private enterprise with the emphasis on private (as in "balls").

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the business failed, get over it. No explanation needed. Simply put, we have no idea why or what happened and no one should have to explain.

Although I'm sure the piles of mediocre to bad reviews, as well as the tenuous value proposition, had more than a little to do with it.

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No, it said Meatballs. I would estimate the sign as being 9 feet tall and about 2 feet wide, in bright neon. It's not as bad as the big TV screen on the corner of 7th and H, which also caused an uproar with the Gallery Place condomnium right there, but I wouldn't want that sign right outside my bedroom window.

I can't help it, but the description of the sign immediately made me think of this. :ph34r:

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