ALL STAR LANES- ALL STAR ENTERTAINMENT
I’ve never thought much of novelty, themed restaurants. I’m a naturally suspicious person and when a restaurant screams “Look how fun / wacky we are”, it makes me think they are trying to detract from the food. However, after spending an evening at All Star Lanes in Bayswater, my opinion was about to be changed.
All star lanes is a chain of American diner themed restaurants in and around central London with the unique feature of having its own private bowling alley for diners to enjoy alongside their meal. I walk along Queensway and it is hard to miss the neon lights guiding me to All Star, I should be cringing but I’m excited about what awaits and my Lanvin heels can’t get through the door quick enough.
The reception area is covered with memorabilia from various eras of American History & a hostess dressed as a Pink Lady from Grease, and I am expecting her to burst out into song any second. Unfortunately I just get a warm welcome minus the musical.
I almost refuse to swap my killer heels for the unflattering red & blue Velcro pumps, but I am not a party pooper, so reluctantly accept and we are guided through the restaurant to our private bowling lane. With 70’s & 80’s hits, diner style seating, and a personal waitress to take drinks orders- this is definitely a cut above your standard local alley. As well as offering more cocktails than I thought was even possibly, I was pleased to find rare treats like root beer and real cream soda, I had finally left London and have been transported back in time to the American Rockabilly era and I don’t want to return.
With a lethal ‘Zombie’ cocktail in one hand and a perfect 300 game under my belt, my partner and I were ready to eat. We are shown to our 60’s style dining booth and are greeted by another energetic waitress who guides us through the copious drinks menu. The food menu does not need much explaining as it is a simple 1 page laminate. The menu is typically American Grill and as an ex- red meat lover, I was about to have a relapse. There were also 4 fish dishes and plenty of vegetarian options available. However the meat dishes scream ‘Eat Me’ with BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Uptown 8oz Steak Frites and Sirloin 8oz of mouth watering heaven. At this point I am fully foaming at the mouth, my partner shoots me a concerned look “remember you have given up red meat for your diet”, at this point I can see his mouth moving but the sounds coming out are certainly not registering.
10 minutes later… my meal consisted of BBQ wings, BBQ baby back ribs, smokey glaze and baked maple apple, salt & pepper soft shell crab with a side of sweet potato fries and Asian green vegetables. As you would expect, portions were generous and I can understand why they need enormous booths. The soft shell crab was a particular highlight and was cooked to perfection. The rest of the meal was appetizing and definitely filled a gap, but it did seem slightly generic. The chicken wings and baby back ribs seemed to be made from similar sauce bases, and this illustrates my point perfectly. It would have been a delight to have more variety in tastes, as when I finished my perfect game and believe me it was, I did work up quite the appetite, and I found my taste buds yearning for more or maybe I just need a second visit to savour every moment?
On paper, a bowling alley in a restaurant is a terrible idea, but All Star Lanes have made it work, which management should take great credit for. The concept means that the occasion can be enjoyed for any social occasion, whether it be with close family or casual acquaintance. Another advantage is that the cost is very reasonable, and is without doubt cheaper than doing both separately.
Although I had a great time at All Star Lanes, there is still some truth in my wariness of themed restaurants. Judged solely on the menu, All Star does not match up to other popular Grill restaurants in the area without the alley, however I do love the exclusivity of the All Star Lanes restaurant, knowing I am paying for a quality standard of customer services that seems to be taken for granted and lacking in many of the Bar and Grill restaurants scattered in and around London. If you are any like myself that can be the deciding factor whether you return or avoid a food venue like the black plague.
With a few more signatures dishes, like the delicious crab, would go along way in its favour. However, as it is, All Star Lanes is a fabulous evening’s entertainment, and you will be certainly bowled over by the experience!
For more information, please visit www.allstarlanes.co.uk