Thursday, June 26, 2008

All Star Lanes, Bayswater

I seem to have been eating in American style restaurants an awful lot over the last couple of weeks.  Whilst this can be boring from a culinary point of view it does allow me to compare dishes whilst they are fresh in my mind.

All Star Lanes in Bayswater is the most stylish of the three I have visited (the others being The Diner and Dollar Grills and Martinis).  It is high end luxury bowling for grown ups, with a sideline in cocktails.  It also has a very cool, sleek diner overlooking the lanes, which is where our party of 16 ate last night.  Our booking had to be made a month in advance, which wasn't so much down to the eating, but due to the bowling (we wanted three lanes together at prime post-work time of 6.30pm).  We then made our way through to our table at 7.30.  The staff were wonderful.  They constantly passed by our bowling lanes offering drinks and removing empties, and then when our games finished earlier than expected we were able to take our table without any fuss.

I was very happy to note that big jugs of tap water with ice and lemon were placed on the table before we were seated and regularly refreshed without request - big brownie points for that.

To start I had the shrimp cocktail which consisted of about six huge, juicy shrimp which were sadly drowned in a ketchup salsa combo which managed to be spicy and tasteless all at the same time.  All this was sitting atop a sad pile of shredded, limp lettuce.  A bad start - but not for my colleague who had a big bowl of gorgeous salt and pepper squid.  Not greasy, exactly the right amount of batter, just fab.

It only seemed right to have the burger for main course, which needed sides ordered separately.  I went for shoestring fries and coleslaw.  We weren't asked how we would like our meat cooked, which was surprising (two diners specially requested rare, which was lucky as the rest were very well done).  They came in a sesame seed bap with some fresh lettuce and tomato and delicious relish.  The fries were great, served in a metal beaker with greaseproof paper: it was all very stylish and the attention to detail was very good.  The steaks ordered were fabulous and tender,  a vegetarian option of grilled vegetables with goat's cheese was a tad boring but apparently tasty.  It wasn't ground breaking or amazing but I enjoyed my food and we were regularly offered drinks.

Puddings were hard to choose between - New York cheesecake and brownie with hot chocolate sauce both sounded good but I went for a chocoholic sundae.  This came in a large round glass bowl with a stem and long spoon, three big scoops of icecream, topped with cream and decorated with chocolate sauce.  It was rich and indulgent, but could have been a bit more adventurous.  It was really more like plain icecream than an actual sundae.

Overall, I enjoyed myself and the food very much.  I wouldn't rave about anything individually but as an experience it was brilliant.  Give it a go.

Three courses and half a bottle of wine: £35 per head

Value: 7/10

Service: 9/10

Atmosphere: 7/10

Food: 6/10

SCORE: 29/40

All Star Lanes, Whiteleys, 6 Porchester Gardens, London, W2 4DB.  Tel: 020 73138363.

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