Young and Hungry

Gut Reaction: Michel Richard’s Classic Balls Taste Like Meat At Least

This is not a formal review, but rather an off-the-cuff first-impressions-style riff on a brand-spankin' new D.C. restaurant.

Michel Richard's hugely ballyhooed Meatballs had barely opened (I counted 17 people in line, 13 seated at tables) and already staffers were telling folks that they had run out of the lentil variety around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. No worries. Y&H wasn't particularly interested in that particular type of orb, anyway. I came for the real deal, ordering up the classic beef ball (four of 'em per order) on a garlic-y grinder. The seasoned bread came pre-toasted and already charred along the edges. Adding mozzarella meant it was headed back into the toaster to melt the cheese, making for one crispy, crunchy baguette when it was finally ready. Maybe too crunchy.

My biggest concern, however, was the meatballs themselves. I'd previously heard good things about the pork and chicken meatballs at the also greatly hyped ShopHouse and walked away rather underwhelmed: the spheres didn't taste like meat at all—they tasted like falafel. Thankfully, Richard's version stays true to the fine print of his storefront signage ("meat") in addition to the bigger brash descriptor ("BALLS").

Total price of sandwich plus fountain drink: $12.41.

Photos by Chris Shott

  • ben stein

    hey Chris,
    I got some tender meat tasting balls for you to put in your mouth.

  • Wrack

    Wait... so was the sandwich any good? WTF kind of review is this?

  • NovaNicole

    Agree with Wrack, what's the verdict??

  • Chris Shott

    Sorry, folks, our "Gut Reaction" feature is not a formal review, but rather "an off-the-cuff first-impressions-style riff on a brand-spankin' new D.C. restaurant." Forgot to stick in the italicized explainer earlier. It's there now.

    The verdict is: the meatballs taste like meat. That's a good thing.

  • Mario

    Can anyone argue that this is the most talked about new restaurant in DC history? It's truly amazing...and saddening that any a-hole with a smartphone and a 9th grade vocabulary is now a "foodie." Not you, Chris! Just in general. But it is not good when amateurs are trying to "scoop" each other with so many tweets, retweets, and blogs that all they're doing is most likely bringing far too much attention to a mediocre establishment. That's why I want to hear from a professional.. Looking forward to the full review, Chris.

  • dcrat

    I think Wrack wanted to know if the sandwich was good not the restaurant as a whole and, if that is the case, I kind of agree, was the off the cuff impression a good one?

  • Chris Shott

    Fair enough, dcrat. I was pleased that the meatballs tasted like meat. So on that note, it was a good impression. Was it the most mind-blowing grinder I've ever tasted? No. The bread was a tad over-toasted and I kind of wish that I'd added some Frito's (yes, those are offered as toppings). I will be interested to try the lamb balls with tandoori sauce. Maybe those will prove transcendent.

    Anyone else tried Richard's balls? Thoughts?

  • Bruce

    I went there today. It was fine, maybe even good, but overpriced. $12.41 is a lot of money for four golfball-sized meatballs, some bread, and a fountain soda. I'm intrigued by their various flavors of meatballs, but prices would have to drop by a couple of dollars for me to go back to try them anytime soon.

  • http:/ suicide_blond

    i tried a sampler.. one of each balls... over the whole wheat pasta with mushroom sauce...
    the balls were good.. prob wouldnt order crab again tasted yummy but too expensive ... chicken was meh.. the lamb and "meat" were the best of the lot and were meaty/tasty the weird bit was the pasta which is shaped like a fat spaghetti but is a tube (don't know the official name) so you wind up with and forgive me i don't know a better way to say it... a lot of "air" in your mouth when you don't expect it..if you "slurp" the noodle like spaghetti its a tube and you get air.. :-) not that that is bad (i prob shouldn't be slurping my noodles anyway i blame toki u) but it was just a bit weird..
    im looking forward to trying the grinder...
    and gonna get the fritos on top...
    im THAT kinda girl

  • Dan Riley

    @suicide_blond - i think that pasta was bucatini. It's a Sicilian thing I believe.