Thank God it’s Monday

Mix up some mince with an egg, a sprinkling of garlic and a Monday night and what do you get? Meatball Mondays, that’s what.

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Published: Fri 22 Oct 2010, 9:34 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:28 PM

Meatball Mondays is a culinary movement originally trialled by recession-stricken chefs in America who laid on meatball-only menus to entice customers on the quietest night of the week. Several staff members from Gallery Mess Restaurant at the Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea, arrived back in London with the idea after trips to New York brought meatballs to their attention.

Rhubarb, which caters for the restaurant, concocted the first two-choice Meatball Monday menu. The options will rotate monthly. On offer are Spanish albondigas, but there will also be spicy Thai and Moroccan lamb versions before the month is up, according to the gallery’s spokesperson, who says anyone can enjoy them. “With meatballs, because they are so versatile, chefs can be endlessly experimental. It works well with any cuisine or country. We started with Italian but we have plenty more in the pipeline.”

Gallery Mess is not the only place to have transported the mincemeat trend over here. In 2008, Nicholas Lander wrote about “a novel approach the owners of [New York’s] A16 are taking with Meatball Mondays,” inspiring Charlie McVeigh of London’s Draft House pub chain to fire up the stoves at his Battersea branch, The Westbridge, last year. McVeigh introduced a more authentic plate of spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce to his Monday menu, which soon guaranteed a nightly intake of starving students from the Royal College of Art opposite the pub.

Nigella, Jamie and Gordon Ramsay, who have each devised recipes over the years, highlight the British appeal for homemade meatballs, but it is not hard to spot modernist interpretations in the capital. Near Goodge Street, you can try Sicilian-style meatballs at Pure California and Scandinavian Kitchen, while Garbo’s, Marylebone’s Swedish restaurant, is known for its generous platefuls.

Hip new American diner Tiny Robot, in Westbourne Grove — sister of Clerkenwell’s Giant Robot — hosts a daily “balls, sauce and side” menu from around £5 (Dh25), and all four London branches of Ikea heat up Swedish varieties — £3.85 (Dh19) for 10 — in a polystyrene box as sustenance for weary shoppers.

Henry Dimbleby has served meatballs at wholesome food deli Leon since its early days and agrees that there are two reasons why London has a special place for them: “First, the flavour is great. Something happens when you put mince and tomato sauce together where the fat comes out of the meat into the sauce making a homely, rich, comforting flavour. Secondly, they have emotional connotations, like being at home with the kids, as well the cooler, Sicilian Godfather vibe. Either way, they go down a treat.”

— The Evening Standard

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