Restaurant Review: 1831 Tavern
Regarding 1831 Tavern: thank heavens they changed the name. The Balls idea, though punny, was maybe better for a Hooters type of establishment. And since the staff at 1831 seems to be well-covered during visits, you’d hate to disappoint aficionados of exposed body parts.
As consolation, there’s still lots of room for balls references on the menu. The restaurant’s offerings are centered on meatballs in different flavors, so balls do, in fact, prevail.
And, as tempting as it is for a writer to include balls-puns in a review project, there will be no puns today. It’s just too easy and too obvious… and overdone. So, eyes up here, on the table, to discuss the meatball menu.
In the interests of science, we took all four types of meatballs for a test drive. The restaurant offers them in four flavors: sausage, classic, veggie and chicken.
The most obvious way to try the meatballs is in Bowl offerings, they’re custom designed to compliment the meatball ingredients. For example, the Midwest Bowl ($13) consists of classic meatballs, potato wedges, mushrooms, a down-home grandma gravy and broccoli. Perfectly steamed, the broccoli was a small surprise, in the middle of all that heavy, hearty stuff. As such, it was also a welcome surprise, and it held its own in the mix.
As for the classic meatball that headlined the option: it’s a fine-textured, mild meatball, easy to slice with a fork, with a very homey flavor. It’s appropriate for the combo.
Alternately, the sausage meatball is showcased in the Spicy Italian Bowl ($13). The sausage makes for a much coarser meatball, and it creates a small internal conflict whether smooth or coarse texture is more desirable. The case for smooth meatballs is that smoothness brought by breading is what differentiates meatballs from regular meat. The case for coarse meatballs is that you can tell the origin of the ingredients. Order both and host your own internal war to decide.
Anyway, the Italian bowl was also filled with penne and a spicy, pulpy red sauce with loops of long-cooked green pepper (a personal fave).
Moving beyond the land of bowls, you can also put meatballs ($2 each) on a customizable house Salad ($7) based on mixed greens. This seems promising for a Veggie Ball. The combo is sort of odd, but the ball itself was fabulous. It has a dense, bready texture, like a cousin to falafel.
The chicken ball was tried as part of a Slider ($3). Like the sausage ball, it was coarse-textured. Not particularly chickeny, it was the least favorite of the meatballs.
1831 Tavern is about more than balls though. There’s Lasagna ($10) on the menu, and with a side salad, it’s a bargain. With a tightly packed layers of cheese, sauce and pasta, it’s nicely done.
There’s wine and beer to team with your meal. Or, for those who want to continue the balls theme right into the bar, there’s a drink called Angry Balls that’s a combo of Fireball and Angry Orchard Cider.
The joint is kinda downscale, and a little weird, but 1831 Tavern is alright for a bite Downtown. You can find it at 22 E. Mound Street.
For more information, visit www.1831tavern.com.
Photos by Mollie Lyman of www.fornixphotography.com. Photos are taken at a different time than review, so discrepancies between photos and review may occur.