The loyal readers among you may have noticed that a short while ago we posted a review of the bowling experience at All Star Lanes in their swanky new venue on Deansgate.
We were lucky enough to sample the food in that very same evening, so rather than bombard you with a hastily scrambled summation of the bowling, drinking and restaurant experience in one go, we broke it into two easily digestible chunks – of which this is the second.
Bowling and drinking at All Star Lanes, housed in the Great Northern building, is an altogether more upmarket affair than your usual ten-pin treat – however that’s to be expected based on the company’s pedigree and quality of its promotional literature.
It’s the food which could come as a shock.
Before you get up on your high horse, don’t worry, because it was a shock of the delicious, juicy, ‘I can’t believe this food is so good’, kind.
After all, I did promise that this review would include the sentence ‘…one of the best things I have ever tasted…’ but more of that to come.
On first glance, the restaurant looks to be slightly too open as you can gaze over the small walls whilst changing your trainers to your bowling shoes and stare at everybody’s food.
However, once inside you feel satisfactorily segregated, and the quirky décor of red and white art-deco plastic chairs, exposed steelwork and funky wallpaper is aesthetically pleasing.
The assistant manager recommended the steaks, as they’re cooked in some sort of flamboyant American grill, so I duly obliged.
First up, we had a small choice of starters, but more than enough to choose from for a restaurant of this kind, which offers relatively simple but intensely flavoursome food.
The calamari was served in a quaint cardboard takeaway box accompanied by garlic mayonnaise and the chicken wings arrived with enough to act as a main course.
Not one to ever shirk the challenge of a large portion, the whole lot was devoured.
The blue cheese dip was an unusual but pleasant partner to the barbeque wings, and this is the perfect starter if you enjoy a really big – or authentically American – meal.
At just £6 it’s fantastic value for money.
Our recommended mains arrived, and I’m half-surprised that the waitress managed to carry the enormous slabs of meet over to the table.
The ‘chargrill’ Ribeye 12oz steak doesn’t come with a side, but you can choose from a wide selection, which again, could act as meals on their own and at £3 for sweet potato fries this could be a thriftier way to dine as a couple.
At £27 the steak may initially seem expensive, however the tender meat was worth every penny, and as a group sampling the menu this would be your best way to appreciate the best of what All Star Lanes do.
But it was the BBQ Baby Back Ribs, served with coleslaw and fries, which stole the show.
ALL STAR: BBQ Baby Back Ribs and ‘Our Brownie’ with bourbon toffee and ice cream
Like a challenge from Man v Food, the portion was again huge but the ribs were, as I promised, one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.
Almost dripping from the bone, the glazed pork could even serve two, but that’s only if you could bring yourself to share the beauty with anybody else.
Dessert from the menu is standard American diner fare, but again it’s done so well.
The fun lies in choosing the dish, expecting one thing, and then being so pleasantly surprised by the depths of flavour that you’re left wondering how it’s possible that this cuisine is conjured in a venue which is first and foremost a bowling alley.
Those who can handle rich flavours after such a heavy meal must go for the brownie with Bourbon toffee and clotted cream ice cream as it’s the perfect way for anybody with a sweet tooth to sample a touch of All Star’s famous whiskey while still satisfying the inner chocaholic.
By 10.30pm on a Wednesday evening the bowling lanes were still busy but the restaurant was dying down, leaving just us and Manchester United’s Nani in the restaurant.
Perhaps that gives some indication of the quality of the food and the clientele All Star Lanes can attract, but we’re not ones to namedrop…
To find out more about All Star Lanes Manchester and to view a menu, click here.