Most diners aren’t something to shout about. They’re somewhere you associate with workman pit stops and lukewarm weak filter coffee served up by a waitress with a perm called Cindy.
With its mouthwatering dishes and pulp fiction swag, All Star Lanes begs to differ.
Born out of a desire to recreate the traditional bowling experience, with a nod to nostalgic Americana, it’s a slick and urban space with a dining room that looks like a film set and a bar area dripping in so much retro swag it would make ol’ Blue Eyes jealous.
From the chrome-edged bar stools to the slide-in plush leather booths, All Star Lanes looks like to your perfect, all-American, roadside restaurant. It looks as though it’s been picked up from Route 66 and popped right inside the retro warehouse.
Everything about the place feels cinematic, from the nostalgic TV commercials playing on the wall screens to the music which is heavily led by 70’s and 80’s rock. You’ll want to sit here all day, drinking bottomless cups of coffee or, when the time comes, a specialty hand spun thick shake with a dash of bourbon. Why the heck not.
First things first. Chicken wings. These bad boys (£6) arrived to the table in a piping hot skillet, sizzling and drenched in a sticky sweet gorgeousness.
The crispy chicken meat steamed as you pealed it off the bone and popped it into your mouth. Ahh. Your cheeks and tongue will feel the full force of the Buffalo hot sauce first slap tickle whack to the taste buds followed by the soothing tang of the sour cream dipping sauce as you go in for a second round.
I popped a piece of popcorn squid (£6.50) into my mouth as I looked around the spacious venue. John Travolta and Uma Thurman wouldn’t look amiss sipping an old fashioned at the slick dark wood bar.
The art deco flooring, industrial ceiling space and posters on the walls all nod back to a time when binge watching film noir and smoking indoors was socially acceptable.
The popcorn squid was so good that I reached into the cardboard box for my next morsel to find they were all gone. The flaky and chewy sweet fish encased in a crisp salty crunchy batter proved too good to savour. They’re addictive, I tell you.
I ordered myself a hand spun strawberry shake at this point as I’d been eyeing one up since I arrived. My pre-Christmas diet was out of the window at this point. It came to the table properly chilled and not so thick as to demand a hydraulic pump to get it up the straw. Delicious.
Next, the mains.
The King Pin burger (£11) came highly recommended so we had to try one. It’s the sort of burger you’d eat on a street corner in the Flatiron District of NYC and you’d savour every morsel.
6oz chuck steak and rib cap patty, lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayo. This is topped with Montgomery Jack cheese, treacle cured bacon, and a croquette made entirely from mouth-scalding mac and cheese. It’s one cohesive unit of human joy. Almost nothing else will ever come close to this and that’s perfectly okay.
The pizza fries (£6) were our side of choice. We could have opted for the more sensible truffle fries, sweet potato fries, reuben fries or even just plain old play it safe skinny fries but we didn’t. We’re go hard or go home kind of people and pizza fries were firmly on our try list because, let’s face it, isn’t this just the greatest food hybrid ever?
Echoing experiments you conducted as a young dreamer where you’d grab a happy meal from Maccy D’s and top the chips with pizza Lunchables, this side dish is sheer pure innocent joy. As you might have guessed, the fries come topped with melted mozzarella, a pepperoni and basil marinara sauce and grilled pepperoni crisps. Don’t leave All Stars without trying it.
I opted for the 24 hour marinated buttermilk fried chicken as my main. The tender chicken bites came to the table thoroughly covered in a batter that achieved just the right levels of crispness and seasoning. While it doesn’t need any help, dipping it in some of the All Star delightfully spiced jerk gravy that came with it isn’t a half-bad move.
We were stuffed at this point but, as I may have alreadymentioned, we’re go hard or go home sort of people so we opted for the ‘spoilt for choice’ dessert option. Salted chocolate fudge brownie, M&M cheesecake and a key lime pie shot.
So which was my favourite? According to Fabienne in Pulp Fiction, “Any time of the day is a good time for pie.”
The key lime variety served up at All Star Lanes is probably some of the tastiest this side of the Atlantic.
By the way, All Star Lanes maintains its old school soda fountain style but serves its Coca-Cola in bottles.
It’s old school reinvented. It has an air of a well-worn neighbourhood institution refined with a high quality modern twist.
The music creates a great atmosphere and the food hits the right notes too. The perfect love letter to our overseas American neighbours.
Click here to book in.