BAR BOMBON, 133 S. 18th Street
I have eaten a vegan “meatball,” and I have survived.
I can’t tell you that I loved the $9 soy-based “albodingas” appetizer at Bar Bombon, but I didn’t hate them either. And I consider myself the ultimate carnivore.
First, I’ll tell you that this hipsterish Center City bar has a fun vibe, a strong bar selection and a “plant-based” menu that eschews all animal products. If you want to try pisco, a hard-to-find Peruvian liquor, it’s here. But beef, eggs or dairy? Not on the premises.
So the meatballs are a little dense and a little dry, as soy tends to be. They’re spiced up with garlic, parsley, coriander and most of the other usual suspects. By themselves, no so great. But what makes this work is the “Romesco sauce” that they’re bathed in. it’s a snappy mixture of red peppers, smoked paprika, garlic and agave. There are also some chopped hazelnuts tossed in, along with lemon zest and espelette, which is a Central American chili pepper.
Really, there’s so much fun in the sauce that you can forget you’re eating a big ball of soy. Well, almost. And at Bombon, they give you a few slices of garlic bread so that you can scoop the last molecule of that sauce out of the bowl.
Don’t tell anyone, but I thought the whole thing was decent.