I like the TV food programme Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives because I like the presenter, Guy Fieri, and the no nonsense way he digs into the food. Also the places he frequents aren't fancy fine dining by any means, just simple no nonsense fooderies which won't break the bank. Any time I see a place triple-D frequents, I make a note so I can try it myself. Hence my visit to Hey Meatball in Toronto a couple of days ago.
The TV programme made it look like the place was big and jammed with people all of who could give 5 minutes on any food items major ingredients. I can't do this very well. To me its just yummy or not. How it gets to that point escapes me in the main so don't expect much in the way of detailed analysis of this ingredient or that technique. Just yummy or not. OK?
Its on College Street in the Little Italy district and I did expect it to look slicker than it was. It actually looks a bit like an old launderette from the 1980's -- pretty bare and white. What gave it away was the big red Hey sign out front. I missed the small clapboard sign on the pavement and wandered in.
"Hi, man," screamed out one of the guys from the back.
Notice I didn't say 'the kitchen' because there wasn't one. Simply an L-shaped counter behind which were a couple of sweaty looking cool dudes, one of whom had called out to me. No table service. You order at the counter.
It was also empty.
Mind you it was around 1.45 pm so after the lunch rush but if it was that good you'd expect there to be someone there most if not all of the time.
"What's your name, buddy?" Now I'm English so reserve comes naturally to me. This was a shock but I did confess my name was Mark.
"Whaddya want Marky-Mark?"
I hate it when people call me that. My mum called me Marky when I was in my thirties and it was agony. This wasn't going well. But I persevered and asked what was good.
"Meatballs are good." Well of course they are, or rather have to be. This is a meatball shop for goodness sake. If they were rubbish you wouldn't be in business.
I asked for spaghetti and meatballs as that was what Guy Fieri had on DDD along with a side salad and home made soda. I asked which was nicest.
"They're all nice of course. Mind you lime is probably my favourite," which rounded out the meal.
I sat myself down and few minutes later Marky-Mark's salad appeared soon followed by the spag + meatballs and soda.
The salad was half a lettuce chopped into 4 parts with blue cheese dressing and bacon bits drizzled over the top and was really nice. The lime soda was great and the spaghetti and meatballs simply awesome.
It wasn't a big bowl to be sure but it was really hefty so very filling indeed.
I asked the guy about the TV show and he was vague about it. "That was months ago now. Yeah, they came in with about 20 guys and pretty much filled the shop. They hung around for hours too filming all over the place. Our customers couldn't get in. The guys seemed OK to talk to." Not really that informative then!
Mind you he did offer that business was so good they're opening another store out East, presumably near the Beaches in eastern Toronto.
Pretty good for $20! You go here for the food not the decor!
719 College Street
Tel: 416 546 1483