As I get older, I seem to find it harder and harder to come up with new ways to keep the kids amused or novel ideas for a night out with my girlfriends, that doesn’t end up with me missing a shoe in a drunken 3am haze! (yes, this has happened more than once…)
The iconic Great Northern building in Manchester is home to All Star Lanes and offers the perfect solution to my dilemma. Being a big fan of all things rockabilly and old school Americana, the idea of a 1950s style bowling alley with modern twist certainly appealed a lot more than my childhood days spent at a generic ten pin bowing alley, with a soggy burger and Slush Puppy thrown in if I was really lucky!
Adam and I have a rather competitive relationship. Board games and the like generally end with tensions running high, so I was pretty certain of how our afternoon was going to play out! (pun intended) We were greeted by friendly reception staff and shown to the bowing registration area. Here, we gave our names and swapped our shoes for the notoriously glamorous bowling footwear! I was wearing open toe pumps and had forgotten to bring any socks with me, however All Star Lanes had it covered and swiftly offered me a pair to use. It’s a good job one of us is organised, eh?
Heading to our lane, I was impressed by the decor and warm atmosphere of All Star Lanes, with old school vibes, subtle nods to the rockabilly era and pin up girl posters dotted around, along with a unique soundtrack – ranging from Elvis to Dick Dale – that made me feel right at home.The lanes were bustling with like-minded folk, enjoying their Sunday afternoon with friends and family.
We settled in our spacious booth and after taking a look at the extensive drinks menu, settled on a deluxe milkshake each. Adam went for Strawberry Cheesecake (strawberry and vanilla ice cream, topped with crumble) and I opted for the Oh Sweet Jeez (chocolate, caramel, peanut butter and banana) These were brought over to our lane and were as delicious as they sound.
Our game started out well. I got a strike on my first turn, which lead to cries of disbelief from Adam and a smug little victory dance from me! Sadly, I was very much the bowling equivalent of Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest this year. After a few impressive turns, my ego was soon brought back down to Earth when I completely missed my last 3 attempts! Not a single pin went down, much to my dismay.
Adam became the metaphorical version of Ukraine and swiftly trumped me to the top spot at the last minute. After a few expletives and a little sulk, I accepted the worthy defeat and we collected out shoes.I noticed the celebrity score board above the desk.
We were in good company, with the likes of Rhianna, Drake, Lady Gaga and Ashley Young all spending time at All Star Lanes in the past. The sweet counter, offering an array of American confectionery, didn’t pass me by either – one of my ultimate weaknesses!
Next up was our meal. We were shown to our table by our lovely server, James, and handed a menu each. All Star Lanes have come up with a brand new special for May. Designed especially for National Vegetarian Week, let me introduce you to the Courgette and Avocado Chilli Burger. Consisting of pan fried courgette & avocado slices cooked in a chilli spiced panko crumb, homemade tomato relish, jalapenos & chipotle mayo in a brioche bun, I was curious to give this a go.
Being a non-vegetarian, I would usually have gone straight for pulled pork, but the mention of avocado had lured me in. Adam went for a starter of Popcorn Squid, the Fried Chicken Burger main and a side of sweet potato fries. The Courgette and Avocado Chill Burger certainly gave my taste buds a challenge! I enjoyed the crunchy courgette and the soft brioche bun, however, the chilli panko crumb and jalapenos proved a little too much for my delicate palette and I had to admit defeat half way through my burger. Adam thoroughly enjoyed his meal and managed to finish every morsel.
As it was my birthday the day before, I decided to try another offering from the May specials – The Strawberry Gin Spritz. A blend of Bombay sapphire, fraise liqueur, elderflower cordial, lime, cucumber and fresh strawberries topped with soda water, this contained pretty much all of my favourite things in one glass. Beautifully presented and refreshing, the flavours worked perfectly for spring.
After our main, we were offered a peek at the dessert menu. Again, being a fiend for all things sweet, I had to take a look. After toying with the idea of Salted Caramel Cheesecake or Double Chocolate Brownies, I settled on classic American pancakes, topped with Nutella, bananas and toasted nuts. Despite being nicely full from our meal, Adam and I managed to devour most of the pancakes between us, which were insanely tasty.
We left All Star Lanes happy and will most definitely be back again soon. If you fancy unleashing your inner Stephanie Zinone or Johnny Nogerelli, then this is the place for you!