Harrogate has quite the reputation. Known for its fancy water, fancier tea rooms and for housing most of the North's posh people, it is not the place you would expect to find achingly cool eateries serving up, as they put it, delicious meaty balls. Sometimes places really can surprise you.
Emma kindly invited me for dinner with her at the newly opened The Yorkshire Meatball Company a couple of weeks back. Their rustic website prepared me for wooden tables and a surprisingly varied menu. It didn't prepare me for the coolest restaurant interior that I think I've ever laid eyes upon or for the incredible feast that was about to be served to me. You guys, the light fittings were made of graters and colanders. It was so cool.
The concept is simple. You choose your balls, you choose your bed, you choose your blanket. Or, in layman's terms, you choose your meatballs (or fish balls, or fake balls made of chickpeas), you choose your side, you choose your sauce. There are a seemingly infinite number of possibilities and we spent far too long deliberating over the menu. Thankfully we wanted wine rather than beer or else we'd have been there all day; there's a long list of local beers chalked on the wall but wine comes in just two varieties - house or posh.
Despite all of the exciting variations, for me, a meatball is not complete without pasta. So I opted for linguine, a spicy sauce and their standard balls for a rather traditional dinner. Emma opted for her balls to come with mashed potato, gravy and a Yorkshire pudding - the latter of which I was rather envious of! Rather oddly, the linguine came on a side dish to the meatballs; I would have perhaps preferred for it all to be piled up together but there was nothing stopping me doing that for myself so it's only a little niggle.
The best word I can use to describe the food is 'fresh'. There's something about incredibly fresh tomato sauce with pasta that stands out in my memory and this was one of the freshest I've had. The linguine was perfectly cooked and, of course, the balls were exquisite. Perfectly cooked and seasoned, incredibly tasty and locally sourced. There's not much more you can ask from a ball than that, is there?
However, although the main course alone would have me taking the (incredibly fancy) bus journey back to Harrogate on a moment's notice, the dessert has been keeping me up at night. We were pretty full after the main but elected to share a portion of the Cheesecake Balls - strawberries and cream cheese rolled in biscuit. Oh. My. God. If you do go to The Yorkshire Meatball Company, do not leave without having some of these - they were heavenly. They had a beautiful mousse-like texture, a light flavour and were completely more-ish. So so good.
I cannot recommend this restaurant to you enough; having spent the past half hour writing this, I am begging Paul to drive me over to Harrogate. It's such a great example of how paring back your menu and doing one thing really well, rather than trying to a jack of all trades and master of none. With restaurants like this popping up, and the street food revolution that we're currently enjoying, it seems that this is what the people want. Plus, it's fun to say balls. Right?