When it comes to bowling alleys, this brings back memories of fun and arcade machines with monochrome blue pac man style graphics from the television screens displaying the scores. Balls and pins would regularly get stuck requiring someone to retrieve errant balls and lodged pins. Food and drink were simple affairs yet satisfying to the young like slush puppies and hot dogs and fries.
How things have changes since the good old days. Technology has moved on and punters expectations have risen exponentially. Despite only being in my twenties I still found the razzmatazz of the Manchester branch of All Star Lanes took some getting used to for this 80s child. Flat screens with cartoon animations now replace the big chunky blue screens of the past with Catchphrase type graphics of turkeys following a series of strikes. One thing that hasn’t changed though is that I’m still awful at bowling, starting off with three gutters and with only one strike all game.
Growing out of hush puppies one of the good points of All Star Lanes is its drinks menu with a variety of cocktails, beers, shakes and other non-alcoholic beverages on offer. Recent Halloween cocktails such as midnight margaritas and Dracula jars were on offer at £5 a pop so didn’t break the bank either. After a few drinks we moved on the shakes/non-alcoholic menu with a bacon Elvis and banana colada.
After working up an appetite the restaurant offers up an American menu. For starters we ordered buffalo wings and popcorn squid. The chicken wings were some of the smallest we have seen, and plumper ones would be much more satisfying, not too hot either. The popcorn squid is served in a small oriental takeaway type box with some unnecessary chopsticks. It’s a shame that they were dripping oil otherwise they would have fared quite favourably.
Moving on to mains which were much better, the full rack of BBQ baby back ribs looked like it came from a dinosaur, it was humongous I was glad I refused to order a side of chips when I saw how big it was, anyhow it come with a small dollop of obligatory veg in the form of coleslaw on the side. I struggled to finish the whole rack but the meat was tender and moist coming off the bone with ease. Blackened salmon was also a generous portion of two fillets with nice crispy skin, served with crush Cajun sweet potato which was different and welcome.
We were glad we chose to bowl before eating as we weren’t able to move after, not helped by washing down our food with shakes. Whilst the prices are reasonable for drinks, coupled with food and bowling the cost soon mounts up, it is easy to rack up a bill of nearly £50 each for a game of bowling, a couple of drinks and a two course meal. Good for a night out for a group but expensive to kill a couple of hours for two.