Bar 31k has just opened up it’s doors down in Hockley serving Meatball and Cocktails, a most curious pairing of food and drink options and one well worth exploring. I popped in for lunch to see what they were all about, and of course to get some meatballs and a drink. I don’t just randomly walk into places to be nosy (well perhaps not all the time any way)
On their Facebook page they say that they wanted to “create a great place in the city for great people to gather in” and that they are “planning to bring you great cocktails, great beer, great meatballs and great music in a (you guessed it) great atmosphere at a price point which works for everyone.”
I liked what I found, the meatballs were good, the guys who run the place are all very welcoming and they also served real ale (I know I should have had a cocktail, but I didn’t I had a pint!)
Lets just look at what I had to eat 🙂
Beef Meatballs, Arrabiata sauce, pasta, and mixed green salad
I was playing it safe on this first visit to 31K picking a sensible combo from the menu, I ordered the Beef meatball and arrabiata sauce with pasta and mixed leaf salad. This was going to be pretty much my go to meatball supper that I cook at home. No pressure then 🙂
The Beef Meatball was described as ‘a spicy classic Italian meatball, locally sourced in Nottingham‘, so that wasn’t giving too much away. It was a really good well cooked meatball, the texture was spot on, a solid bite yet slightly crumbly so that you knew it was freshly minced meat. There was a hint of chilli and a nice bit of herb flavouring, nothing too overpowering. I had chosen to mix this with the arrabiata sauce which they describe as a ‘tomato sauce with garlic, chilli, basil, oregano and balsamic’. This was a really good choice on my behalf!
It was a seriously good version, there was just enough heat from the chilli to keep your mouth warm as you ate, but not too much to takeover. The same could be said of the tomato, it was sweet and packed with flavour, sometimes with a tomato sauce you get that tinny taste, but not here this sauce was really very smooth on the palate. I was pretty impressed it’s one of the nicest I have had for ages. In fact it failed to live up to it’s Italian name as I wasn’t ‘angry‘ at all, perhaps it should be renamed ‘contento‘:-)
The pasta which was ‘giant pennoni, served al-dente and dressed with fresh herbs‘ and the mixed lead salad of ‘rocket, spinach and ruby chard with house dressing‘ were excellent bedfellows in the box with the meatballs and sauce. I found that the sauce mixed into the pasta really well as it gets inside the ‘tube’ and made a lovely coating. The crisp and crunchy salad leaves added contrast and a nice light freshness that took away a little of the chilli heat from the sauce. The house dressing on the salad also added something a little extra, I was picking up some sweetness and also a little bit of pickle, but that might have been from the thinly sliced red onions that were slid in amongst the leaves.
It was all good, I was quietly impressed as I was not sure what I was going to find. I mean I am always hopeful of a good meal, and this time my hopes were fulfilled as I found somewhere serving up some really decent meatballs (which I totally love) at a pretty good price.
Pork balls, Mash, Gravy and Edamame salad
As I was eating some of the 31K guys, Will and Lau came over to ask what I thought, I had thought I had flown in under the radar, but apparently not, so I told them pretty much what I just told you, next thing you know Lau was wanting me to try a taster of the Pork meatballs which was very kind but also I said not necessary but then again most welcome as I was curious about their other combinations.
So he made me up a small bowl of the Pork meatballs which they describe as ‘lightly spiced mince flavoured with mixed Italian herbs‘, with a side of the Mash ‘fluffy and creamy Maris Piper mash laden with salt and butter‘ topped with the Gravy ‘rich-textured gravy with chicken and beef stock‘ and with a side of the Edamame bean medley ‘with green beans, peas and butter beans. I was thinking this is a most generous taster!
I was glad that he had offered this bowl, the pork balls were very different to the beef meatballs. They were much lighter and less meaty (if that makes sense) the texture was a very fine mince almost more like a mash inside. They were fried though so you get a crispy coating with a soft filling. It probably did not help that I had just had the spicy arrabiata sauce though and the beef balls which were more flavoured (and that I was already full) so perhaps that was why I thought that they had less flavour.
I liked the edamame bean medley and honestly I would probably have never ordered that as part of a future 4-way-combo but I will say now that I will have it on a another visit. I really liked the addition of the butter beans, they really made it a little different.
Now the Mash and the Gravy? yes these were really good. I mean the menu does say that the mash is laden with ‘salt and butter‘ and that it is ‘fluffy and creamy‘, “Very Creamy and Buttery” would be the best way to describe it, very smooth almost silken, you don’t often get mash this good in a bar! The gravy was also most excellent, full of soft onion and loads of rich meat flavours I am not sure that I can eat the mash and gravy at Ikea ever again 🙂 (and yes I had checked out the combos to see if I could get something close, I know I am such a heathen!)
There are 16 different items on that menu to chose from, I cant work out the math to tell you how many different meals you could contrive, I can tell you that there may be some weird and perhaps wonderful possibilities depending on your personal tastes and level of inebriation perhaps.
The beef, arrabiata, pasta, and mixed salad that I chose seemed to jump straight out at me as I am a fan of the Italian meatball and all variations on a theme. looking at it now I am thinking that the Pakora might go well with the Tzatziki, the pitta and the mixed leaf salad. The arancini? I reckon maybe the salsa and the pickled veg. and probably with the pitta too. I would be most interested to know what gets picked with what over time, and also what does not get picked and how the menu evolves over the next few weeks and months
It was good to see vegan and gluten free options on the menu too
I do know that I plan to pop back for a lunchtime bite sometime as it was a pretty cool spot that I found by the window to people watch and to get a quiet spot of lunch
Bar 31K is located at 31 Goosegate in Hockley Nottingham NG1 1FE.
I first bumped into these guys a month or so back when they were just renovating the space at 31 Goose Gate in Nottingham, back then it was just a shell but now it is looking pretty good. Inside it is casual yet cool, you have stools by the window and benches to sit at, and also a raised mezzanine up top where you can chill out. I purposely didn’t take pictures inside, go and take a look yourselves.
I knew from earlier Instagram posts that they were going to be selling meatballs, but I didn’t know back then where the inspiration came from, I didn’t even know today as I was eating but I read an article from the Nottingham Post as I was researching a little more where it said that co-owner Lau, who was firmly installed in the kitchen when I visited, had been inspired by visits to The Meatball Shop in New York.
I wish I had read that before, I had also visited the Meatball Shop in Lower Manhattan several times, and I have also been inspired to cook my own meat balls after that and also after talking to Daniel Holzman at a food event last year in Chicago. This is MyFoodHunt
Man it is such a small world. I really need to go back to 31K to talk meatballs now with Lau 🙂