When Ed Balls Day comes around again, we know there is only one place to celebrate this great occasion, Curveball in Balham. There are more balls in this cosy restaurant than probably the whole of the House of Commons. The humble meatball gets a much-loved makeover here with exotic interpretations based on the co-founders and head chef’s travels around the world.
The gentrification of Balham continues apace with this new restaurant. The decor here is suitably easygoing with calming, hanging baskets aplenty on the ceiling and a giant Dutch wall map of Europe showing where the best produce comes from (if you can get your google translate working from Dutch to English).
This is as welcoming a place as you will find in Balham on a Sunday lunch time with flavoured tap water at the ready and an army of crayons ready to entertain the young ones. Although, I have heard rumours they have a dark and seductive cocktail bar in the basement, which I must come back and visit for some weekend libation.
Typical Sunday brunch drinks are on the menu ranging from bloody mary to Mimosa and Brazilian lemonade. You could easily see them offering bottomless brunches further down the line.
Starting with the less successful dish, the veggie Tony soprano promised a lot with lentil, ricotta and oregano balls in the veggie ragu baked with rigatoni and cheeses but was disappointing in terms of the portion size. At £17.50, Tony himself would have expected a better deal and the pasta was overcooked with very little al dente textures.
However, the small plates we tried were much more successful and had an interesting breadth of tastes from across the world. The messy mutha used top quality Cumbrian beef and free range pork for their meatballs and combined to heavenly effect with sourdough bread and melt in your mouth cheeses.
Flavours get more exotic when you order the ‘roccan-roll, the lamb was superbly well-marinated with intense spices rubbed onto the meat and had a gentle heat from the harissa yoghurt and an excellent contrast in taste and texture with preserved lemon relish and pomegranate.
I was transported to the Far East with their yakitori glazed free range skewered chicken thighs; the sauce was very strong if slightly salty. It was somewhat enchanting watching the Bonito flakes make their customary waves in the air. The chicken meat was extremely tender and the dish was topped off with some ginger and sesame.
Curveball is still a work in progress, but for all meat and veggie ball-lovers out there, we hope they hit a home run soon.