Review: Brooklyn Bowl London
We've been bowled over...
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Bowling is, apparently, going to be big in 2014. That said I’m reliably informed that ping pong was to be big in 2013 and I never so much as lifted a bat, never mind fired a small plastic ball across a room. Well, not in the name of competitive sport at least.
So this might, in part, explain why the large exhibition space at London’s O2 – the former home to artefacts from the Titanic – has recently been transformed into a huge bowling alley.
This third Brooklyn Bowl is the first to cross the Atlantic, following successful launches in New York and Las Vegas. Its mammoth scale will come as little surprise given that the entire enterprise is so heavily steeped in Americana.
The restaurant side of things - you don’t actually have to bowl - also reflects this. The food is mainly burgers and fried chicken and designed so that you can also eat in your lane, should you wish to. You’re encouraged to bowl with the other hand…
We chose to check out both sides of the Brooklyn Bowl experience and opted for the booth-based dining first. The milkshakes - particularly the one with nutella and a shot of Bourbon - are fantastic but will fill you up. Forewarned is forearmed.
As with the majority of the main courses, the (very reasonably-priced) starters are generally finger food buffet style options and leave you ready for the main course. We both opted for their classic burgers - though other comfort foods also looked extremely appetising. Their classic chicken burger – which was so popular I got the last one – was made up like chicken patty rather than your standard chicken breast. Served on a glazed bun, with all your standard fillings stacked to one side so as to allow you to build your own burger, it’s no wonder people across the pond have been calling it ‘the best thing I ever ate’.
Not to miss an opportunity to try a new dessert, I opted for chocolate chip bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. I’m ashamed to say that despite sharing it, it still beat me. Alas incredible pudding, our meeting was brief but I shall never forget it. In hindsight I should’ve taken it to the bowling lane and not given up the fight…
But at least some of those calories – at least I hope so – would’ve burned up after 90 minutes in a private bowling lane. Although I’m told that swinging your arm for maximum momentum is cheating.
Maybe it’s an age thing, but I was particularly delighted that Brooklyn Bowl isn’t lit like a hospital - the slightly darker venue lends to the great atmosphere.
There’s an enormous mirror ball that casts a fantastic shine across the main series of lanes, and huge screens play music videos throughout. When we were there it was country music because of a gig taking place in the O2, but after a few achy breaky heart numbers it felt strangely apt.
The bowling experience allows you to occupy a private lane for up to 90 minutes - during this time you have a waiter who will take food and drink orders, with your bill presented upon departure.
Even though I lost (despite the arm-swinging), I’d already begun thinking about who else might also enjoy an evening of beer and bowling, or what events might be good to celebrate at Brooklyn Bowl.
Maybe 2014 is the year of bowling after all…
Brooklyn Bowl London is at the O2, details here.
IMAGE: Jamie Smith