At first I thought it was another case of hilarious miscomprehension of an English word (see David Jaggard’s “Paris Shop Signs” series on this subject), but one glance at the photo (below) on the Facebook page of the restaurant Balls shows that they know exactly what the word means. Just look at their attitude: ballsy.
Balls is part of the new wave of mono-product shops and restaurants in Paris. It does indeed specialize in balls, which really can’t be called meatballs because they don’t all contain meat. The menu offers five varieties: beef with parsley and onions; lamb with coriander, pine nuts and cumin; chicken with tarragon and lemon; and veggie with eggplant and chickpeas. They come in batches of five for €10 per serving along with the sauce of your choice, either tomato or yogurt with herbs. No mixing of types is allowed, although I don’t see why not. Side dishes – lentils with feta and zucchini, mashed sweet potatoes, creamy polenta, risotto with mushrooms or endive salad with citrus fruit – cost €6 extra.
We started with the beef in tomato sauce, which my friend liked more than I did. I
thought the meatballs were rather ordinary and the tomato sauce too sweet. I preferred the deep-fried (not at all greasy) chicken balls with the tasty yogurt sauce. The side dish of polenta was fine – and creamy as promised – but not very exciting. The risotto, also very creamy,
was better – and surprisingly al dente for a restaurant risotto – but was far too salty. We ate it anyway. When we told the waitress later, she graciously said she would inform the cook.
We tried both desserts on offer. The baked apple was good but could have used an extra
creative touch to make it more interesting. My friend thought the chocolate cake wasn’t chocolatey enough, but I enjoyed it and the homemade, not-too-sweet whipped cream it came with.
Balls knows its target audience. It’s a cheap and cheerful place for people (mostly young ones when we were there) who are not looking for a gourmet experience but want a hearty meal made with good ingredients at reasonable prices. That’s what it does well.
The decor is much the same as most recently opened Paris bistros: simple wooden tables, chairs and counter; industrial light fixtures; and a gray banquette. It is very noisy, almost unbearably so. If you’ve got the balls to tolerate that, it’s worth going to for a simple meal.Favorite