Bowling Night Out at All Star Lanes in Bayswater
Published 15 February 2011
I’ve heard about the mythical promised land that is All Star Lanes from friends, colleagues, and even random strangers on Twitter. Like an oasis amongst all the cricket and soccer and scones and fish & chips, once you walk through that door and down the stairs into the cavernous basement, its like flying across the pond.
All Star Lanes is a quintessentially American diner and bowling alley. After years of hearing this and that about it, I finally had a chance to visit the All Star Lanes branch at Bayswater, courtesy of the lovely peeps at Qype! Located underneath the Whiteleys Shopping Centre, the entrance is a small unassuming doorway around the side of the shopping centre.
Inside, I was amazed at the size of the place. I easily counted 6 full size bowling lanes, a massive diner area that could be a restaurant on its own, as well as a private room to the side (complete with its own bar and two bowling lanes). Compared to the tatty and chav-dominated Queenway Bowling just a few minutes walk away, All Star Lanes was like bowling nirvana. The lanes were bright, the walls were white and not grubby. The bowling balls were clean and smooth, the floor even and well waxed. No more blaming the ball or an uneven lane for poor bowling then – the pressure was on!
First though, I had dinner with a lovely bunch of bloggers and Qypers. A special selection from the All Star Lanes menu was available for our group. For starters, I went for the chicken, cilantro, and jalapeno quesadilla. You know you’re in an authentic American diner when they use the word cilantro instead of coriander! When it arrived, I attacked it like a ravaging bear, and wasn’t disappointed. It was good – although lacking a bit in flavour and spice. Would have liked to have more cheesy flavour in it and that cheesy stringy texture – but nevertheless, it was good! However, I think the star of the starters had to go to the spiced BBQ chicken wings with a celery and blue cheese dip – they looked incredibly yummy, and from the empty plates at the end, I could see that they were thoroughly enjoyed.
For mains, I decided to eschew the more complex and delicious-sounding dishes to go for the baked macaroni with 3 cheeses, topped with bacon and jalapenos. I figured that something that simple – on this menu – had to be exceptionally great or prepared with a twist right? When it arrived, I tentatively put a forkful in my mouth – it was probably the tastiest mac and cheese I’ve ever had. Although to be honest, the bar wasn’t very high as I’ve never had mac and cheese in a restaurant – the classiest venue was probably the cafeteria at Imperial College! However, I was slightly disappointed after that first bite – the dish tasted and looked like classic mac and cheese, and I was expecting something out of the extraordinary.
During the main course, I eyed the massive bourbon glazed baby back ribs, apple & slaw sitting on the plate next to me, a well as the All Star Lanes prime beef burger and fries! Oh well – those two mains would have to wait for my next trip back to All Star Lanes in Bayswater.
We took a break after the starters and mains before proceeding with dessert. Reflecting on my two choices so far, I had gone full American and was disappointed. But my disappointment stemmed from my expectations of them prepared with a twist or differently – but here I was at All Star Lanes, which tries to create as an American as possible atmosphere. So I realised that perhaps I was being too harsh, and that really, the food did excel in one regard – it managed to be good traditional American fare, served in London, which is no mean feat.
We proceeded with a bowling competition to work off some of those calories and to create more space for dessert – which was served in the private room at the back. Complete with 2 bowling lanes, a karaoke machine, a private bar, and some big lounge sofas, I can see it being the perfect place for a Birthday bash – might be dropping some hints for friends soon!
Our desserts came out canapé style, with the sin city chocolate mousse taking top billing – just so velvety and rich! The New York cheesecake and the All Star chocolate fudge brownie were also outstanding, although the mini waffles were a bit disappointing, as they were chilled and hard by the time they were served.
Overall, I think All Star Lanes is perfect for a night out – they have great bowling alleys and a really good bar, as well as private rooms if you have a big group for a celebration. In terms of food, its the perfect place to head to if you are craving for some very traditional American food – although going there just for the food without taking advantage of all the other things on offer there will be a pity.
All Star Lanes – Bayswater branch
Address: 6 Porchester Gardens, Bayswater, London W2 4DB
Booking/enquiry Tel: 020 7313 8363