SM Dad reviewer writes: “OK, sometimes doing this gig I get asked to cover stuff where – in all honesty – I am the only bloke there. So when the chance to review bowling, burgers, and beer at All Star Lanes in Stratford’s Westfield came along I did a little dance ’round the office.
All Star Lanes has become the hipster way to bowl (as opposed to a retail park destination for Middle Englanders) and being neither hip nor good at bowling I have been there exactly twice before. Once was with my five-year-old for a kids’ birthday party and most of them whipped my butt.
My five and three-year old sons got SO excited about the trip that they had made up a song about bowling in the car on the way (‘Bowling bowling, we love bowling!’) By the time we had parked in Westfield and gone up and down a few escalators they were so hyper I secretly hoped the natty bowling shoes you swap your own for might have lead soles.
My sons ran onto their lane – they had furnished themselves with bowling balls and the kiddy ramp thing (prob a technical term for this) by the time I had carried the baby in the buggy up a few stairs (I’ll add here that there is also a ramp and at least three members of staff offered to help me… but it was only a few stairs and I am a seasoned Dad!)
My missus is equally as competitive as the boys and to be fair, she started out with a pretty strong score. A few goes in and I was pointing out that I did actually put my shoulder out last week doing DIY. No need to worry though as after one sip of wine she was rubbish – and although the boys did actually notch up quite impressive scores (albeit with the aid of the ramp thingy and the lane gutters being gated) I did maintain my victory and therefore Dad-pride.
We were then escorted to our table by the incredibly cheery manager (who looked a bit like the DJ out of ’13 Reasons Why’ – hey, I know I’m sad, but really, what else is there on Netflix??) and the kids furnished with crayons and something non-valuable to draw on.
By this point, 5-year-old was on a bit of a sugar come down (one ginormous strawberry milkshake to blame for that) and refusing to sit down or eat pasta. In fact, he pulled a full-on teenage strop and demanded a medal for his bowling effort – to my surprise (and huge gratitude) said manager produced a medal for each boy.
Normally, I have a stealth tactic when we go out for dinner. Ordering a starter and suggesting to the missus that we split it, then letting her eat it mostly means she doesn’t finish her main and it’s all the more for me. But this backfired a bit because she ordered truffle fries – and she LOVES truffles.
For ‘diner style’ food, the new Summer menu is pretty impressive (and imaginative) – with wagyu and lobster tail making appearances. The range of gins is also awesome (some fab boutique ones on there) but as it was 3 pm I stuck to their beers.
For once, not only me but the kids also were too stuffed for pudding. And with my lot, that really is saying something. My three-year-old had chomped through a whole plate of fish goujons, five-year-old had chicken pasta and the baby sucked on some bread and a bit of popcorn fried shrimp.
For anyone who worries about taking little ones bowling; fret not. It is very family friendly and loads of fun (although you may have to explain the concept of ‘being a good loser’). At 3 pm on a week day, All Star Lanes Stratford wasn’t crowded (presume it would be full of hipsters later at night) and a far cry from being a stomping ground for misguided youths using the cover of darkness to get to second base.
It was a brilliant day out and I’m still singing the bowling song under my breath…”
With thanks to All Star Lanes, Westfield Stratford City.