Tag Archives: stratford

Dad Diaries: Our trip to All Star Lanes Stratford

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. 

The playground at Westfield

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.

Stroller Days Out: Little Birdies at Roof East

If you’re an Eastender you might have ventured to Roof East last Summer for a skyline cinema experience. This year the venue (which is situated on top of a car park) is also offering crazy golf – which on weekend afternoons is an option for little putters too…

One of our Dad-writers investigates…

“Growing up in Scotland right next to a famous golf course, trotting ’round the green was all the rage for us kids. Obviously for my own boys (living in earshot of Bow bells) the sport isn’t even on their radar (except as an explanation for why Grandpa sometimes wears silly trousers). So I was quite chuffed at the fact that there is a crazy golf not ten minutes drive from me (right by Stratford station if you take the train/bus/tube/DLR) – a good intro into a gentleman’s sport, I thought…

I took my kids (four and two) after they had already been for a swim on a WP_20160626_12_59_46_Pro Sunday morning – totally forgot any sort of healthy snack or drink but Roof East has an amazing selection of hot dogs, fries, nachos etc – all loaded with American style cheese sauce (not an Organix bar or fruit kebab in sight, but you’ll be Dad of the year if you proffer the cheesy chips!) The kids thought driving all the way up to the top floor was awesome (in a sort of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang way) and were also pretty smitten with the cheery security chap on the door, who had more enthusiasm than I did of a Sunday…

The course itself is nine holes, a mix of ‘trick shot’ ones (like a loop the loop) and tricky angles – but all very manageable even for a two year old (with a bit of patience). My eldest son got a bit tired and grumpy (we had to have a little chat about sportsmanship…) but soon perked up again when he saw the impressive sportscars with trees and plants growing in them (no, really, there are!)

WP_20160626_13_01_57_ProTotally would recommend this – especially if you’re looking for a Dad-date playdate idea (or you want to bet a fellow parent that you can show them a car that’s been made into a shrubbery…)

If you’re heading to Roof East with kids I’d suggest: 

  • Pack sunscreen (it is very exposed, so even when cloudy there’s a lot of sun)
  • Take cash (for cheesy chips etc)
  • Don’t wear a hat that will blow off (or it will blow off the top of a multi-storey carpark)
  • Have a little chat about flora and fauna being our friends (there are lots of well nurtured bits of urban horticulture right at child level…)
  • Don’t expect a serious game of golf… “

Stroller days out: Brunch at Forman’s Fish Island

As our readers know, we love it when fabulous restaurants also extend their fabulousness to the dinky ones and to that extend we absolutely take our hats off to Lance Forman and his staff at their Fish Island restaurant – it is delightful, sophisticated and very child tolerant!

Editor writes: if you love the idea of a NY style brunch but you have children, then – let’s face it – it will probably never happen. That magical pairing of fluffy eggs and a glass of something fizzy enjoyed whilst perusing the papers is all but a pipe-dream when weekend breakfast has sunk to soggy weetabix on the sofa at 6am in front of Milkshake. By the time 11am arrives you’ve either a) gone back to bed or b) broken into the Xmas chocolate stash.

But once in a while – heck, you deserve it – pile them all into the car and bribe them with Kinder eggs. Brunch is a lovely thing, and having children in tow doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed somewhere ‘grown up’.IMG_7711

Forman’s Fish Island is the restaurant of the Forman family, who have been smoking salmon in London for four generations. Located right on the bank s of the Olympic stadium, not only is the view spectacular but if looking at it through the pristine glass windows wasn’t enough then there is also an outdoor deck area. Very exciting for little boat lovers too as the canal is full of some beauties and narrowboat owners tend to be quite liberal with their waving.

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The brunch menu is traditional (fish, eggs, meat, fizz) but incredibly well cooked, with delicious homemade sourdough bread – and of course the famous London cured smoked salmon. We adults paired ours with a glass of Chapel Down English Sparking wine and the kids had a plate of salmon goujons (huge portions, happy kids), a super thin crust pizza and some fizzy water.

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Afterwards, my children (who had gotten their eggy, buttery fingers all over the clean glass tables and chairs already) were invited to see the smoke house – lifted up to view the fish being hot and cold cured and hence smearing butter all over the windows. 

Not only was the whole experience (food, wine, view, service) impeccable but the staff did not once tut or bat an eyelid at any of the antics from my troupe of monkeys. Highly recommended (I even got to read one whole page of The Independent) and a surprisingly enjoyable family outing.