When Andy Williams sang It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, he could have been singing about the menus which are released during the festive season.
Autumn chills have transformed into winter thrills and as the streets become aglow with holiday cheer, store fronts get a makeover and Christmas menus start to appear.
I was lucky enough to try the Christmas menu at All Star Lanes, Manchester.
The restaurant was decked with jolly decor and Christmas clobber. Friday patrons filed in hungrily, filling up the booths and tables, giving the restaurant a jolly feel.
We began with cocktails under the expert guidance of our server Jack. An intensely, creamy Pumpkin Egg Nog and a Cinnamon and Spice – essentially an Old Fashioned with a Christmas hat on and my personal favourite – whilst we perused the festive feast on offer.
We kickstarted our meal with an order of Salt Beef and Pickle Fritters. Crackling-ly crisp nuggets of soft, shredded beef with hint of pickle crunch. Excellent when paired with a fiery dollop of horseradish dip, these went down a treat and were undeniably moreish.
The Smoked Haddock Chowder was packed generously with veg and hunks of haddock and topped with truffled croutons. This creamy concoction might not blow your mind, but will certainly warm your winter chill and is a satisfying starter ahead of the main event.
Each year, All Star Lanes launches a seasonal burger to celebrate yule tidings, and this year’s has revealed their strongest contender yet.
A turkey, cranberry and chestnut patty, topped with duck-fat-roasted potato salad, treacle cured bacon and Applewood cheese, finished with a sweet kiss of cranberry and crowned with meaty hunk of sausage and apricot stuffing. Like Boxing Day in a bun, this masterful creation showcases the favourites of a Christmas spread and is truly something special.
The tator tots worked their magic as accompaniments to the burger. Better suited than chips, these mini roasties lined up like soldiers ready for battle, wearing crispy coats over soft whips of mashed potato. A great partnership.
If you’re after something a little more refined, the Braised Pork Shoulder is just the ticket. Sticky, slow roasted meat which falls apart at the first sight of the fork, brewed in its own rich, meaty goodness and served with Cajun spiced bacon, buttered greens and BBQ bean casserole.
A symphony of flavours, a dollop of mash would have really turned it into a ten. But this way, you still have room for pud. Trust me, you really should leave room for pud.
The Christmas Sticky Toffee Pudding was a rich and gooey affair, perfectly portioned for one and served in a pool of bourbon-infused, sweet golden nectar, complemented by a delicate scoop of soft vanilla.
If you’re looking for something a little more novelty, I highly recommend the Egg Nog Creme brûlée. Devilishly sweet, creamy and wondrously light, the brandy-infused custard adds a wickedly good, tummy-warming flavour to this Christmas special. Topped with a bitter bite of cracked caramel, it’s definitely one for the naughty list.
If you can’t stomach a full dessert, the Mince Pie Milkshake is a sweet solution. Add a shot of spiced rum if you’re craving some extra Christmas cheer. It’s quite a bizarre creation that should almost definitely not work, but I assure you, it does.
By this point, you should be feeling more stuffed than a Christmas turkey. If this is the case, I highly recommend burning off some bites over on the lanes situated only a moment away.
Take your tipple, swap your shoes and show off your skills – or lack of in my case. If you strike lucky, you could end up winning a round of beers for your buddies.
If you strike lucky, you could end up winning a round of beers for your buddies. Either way you can guarantee a laugh or two or maybe more, depending on how many gutter balls you get.
All Star Lanes are offering their Feast Package at £39 and £45 for a two or three course meal per person, which is inclusive of a game of bowling and half a bottle of wine each.
It’s the perfect place for a Christmas do with a difference. I highly recommend a visit for one helluva feast and an evening that will totally bowl you over.
By the way, they’ve got a new spectacular Happy Hour that includes 2-4-1 on delectable cocktails and amazing offers on beer and bubbles. Head there Friday 3-8pm or Sunday to Thursday when Happy Hour will be available until a jaw-dropping 10pm!
235 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN