Goodness, gracious, great (British) balls of fire. I totally have a little secret for you. If you want to find some big, tasty meatballs (oo-er) and vegballs near Covent Garden, you should definitely pay The Bowler a visit. This week I went along to a Yelp event at the restaurant where we got to discover some of their tasty treats. And drink some gin.
One of the things I love about blogging and being part of communities like Yelp is discovering hidden gems of independent businesses lurking the pavements of London. Honestly, I’ve definitely walked past The Bowler before and didn’t even realise it was there, or what it was about. You may well have done the same.
The Bowler started out as a street food business, with owner Jez Felwick selling meatballs out of a grass-covered truck called the Lawn Ranger. Be still my pun-loving heart. After gaining the support of Polpo co-founders Russell Norman and Richard Beatty, The Bowler was born. And it’s got some pretty big balls.
When we arrived, we were welcomed with big smiles and the ever-welcome offer of a drink. I was a bit skeptical of being offered tea from the fridge initially – but when team member Elliot told me to drink a little, then give it back to him so he could pop in some GIN, I was pretty sold. And it turns out that even without the gin, the ChariTea Mate (pronounced ‘mah-tay’, not mate as in U OK M8) drink was fantastic.
Instead of using sugar, agave syrup and fresh juices are used to sweeten this sparkling drink that gives you a caffeine-fuelled energy boost but is also super refreshing. The Fairtrade tea used to make the drink is from a cooperative in Argentina, and money raised by ChariTea is used to improve social, medical and education initiatives in the area.
And it does taste great with gin.
If you want to some Mate Tea for yourself, either head down to The Bowler, or if you’re not local, pick some up online here.
Alright – so this isn’t standard fayre for regular Bowler customers, but for this event, the team made us up a whopper of a meatball sub. At roughly 6ft long (at least), I was tempted to see if I could eat more than my own height in meatballs – although, probably very fortunately for my waistline, the mega-sub on the table before us was shared out between the group.
As well as the sub of dreams, we also got the chance to sample some of The Bowler’s other meatball delights. My favourite was definitely the Green Chilli Chicken – made with Thai coconut curry, chilli jam and coriander. It had quite a kick to the sauce, but the flavours worked really well together and it’s definitely what I’ll be ordering next time I’m down there.
I also had a nibble on a Beef & Chorizo ball – a more traditional meatball taste, packed with flavour and a brilliant consistency. One thing that really did impress me about The Bowler was how good quality their food is – I’ve had dried out, flavourless meatballs in the past and this was about as far off those as you could get.
In the name of research (and also eating as much as humanly possible), I also tried out the ‘Balafel’ – basically a vegetarian take on a meatball. Made with chickpeas, spinach and ricotta and topped with tomato sauce, mint yoghurt and parsley, these were an absolute delight. In fact, I’d even be tempted to choose these over the meat options – they were reminiscent of falafel, but more moist and crumbly and generally super delicious.
The Bowler definitely bowled me over with their ballsy street food fayre – top quality, a lovely, welcoming little shop and super nice staff make it a must-visit destination for all your central London edible ball-related needs.
P.S. I managed to do this blog post about balls without an innuendo in every paragraph, so I’m off to celebrate with meatballs and gin.
*I went to The Bowler for a Yelp event, with no obligation to blog!