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The Bowler (CLOSED)

Restaurants, Fast food outlets Seven Dials

Time Out says

A tiny meatball specialist on the northern border of Covent Garden, the first permanent site for a successful street-food operator.

Please note, The Bowler is now closed. Time Out Eating & Drinking editors, September 2016.

Jez Felwick may end up as a case study in the street-food module of the Business Studies A-level. Work in day job fails to satisfy completely; brief formal training in cookery is followed by various gigs in the street-food biz; finally hits on a proposition he can make his own: meatballs with globe-trotting flavourings. Cue busy schedule catering at events, festivals, etc. Cue cookbook. Cue: ‘Adios, day job!’

And now cue a permanent site, in a location packed with hordes of hungry office workers. It’s a tiny space, just ten or so stools at the window counter and a couple of tables outside. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in ballsy impact.

The Bowler offers five regular options at lunchtime, plus a daily special and a few breakfast dishes. They come in pitta bread, on rice, or on salad, at prices starting from £4.49 for the vegetarian ‘Balafel’: chickpeas, spinach and ricotta partnered with bulgur wheat, tomato sauce, mint yoghurt, red onion and pickles. Weighing no more than a smallish rhinoceros, it was total sensory overkill. And I died with a smile on my face, even if the excellent pitta fell apart completely by the end.

Green chilli chicken balls lacked wowiness (underpowered accompaniments), but beef and chorizo balls and lamb and feta kofte were both tip-top. Extensive sampling has convinced me that it’s better to wrap the balls in bread rather than rest them on rice. The sole dessert is a yum yum, the ever-popular twisted doughnut.

The Bowler is already popular (not surprising) and when it’s rammed, the smiling, helpful service can slow down a little. Which is fine if you’re sitting down but not so hot if you need to grab and run. At the time of writing they were planning to open a service hatch which should take pressure off service in the room.

The Bowler is not the West End’s first balls specialist. That would be Balls & Company in Soho, which we took to enthusiastically. Bowler is a different bowl of balls, a fast-casual/takeaway whereas B&C is a proper sit-down restaurant. There’s room enough for both approaches. And don’t be surprised if someone tries to put a third ball in play: the whole world seems to love these globes.


Address: 1 Monmouth St
Transport: Tube: Covent Garden or Leicester Square
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