My boys are typical blokes. Anything with a ball makes their hearts pump faster.
So they were giving each other high fives and shouting ‘Awesome!’ when I told them we’d been invited to Bowl & Dine at All Star Lanes in Westfield Stratford.
All Star Lanes, the US-style restaurant and bowling alley, is sort of a Brick Lane institution and their outpost at Westfield is even larger, offering 14 bowling lanes and 120 cover seating.
The design is retro American hipster with sporty posters on the walls, waitresses in short, ’50s style dresses and swinging ponytails, and a long shiny bar where they claim to shake up some of the best cocktails in town.
But tonight, we bowl (Grease 2 reference, people). Ezra couldn’t wait to get into some bowling shoes even though he had to make do with a size up from normal.
I’d only ever gone bowling once before when I was pregnant and had what I can only describe as major coordination issues. I was skeptical about how we’d manage with two complete novice kids and one adult recovering from shoulder strain.
Luckily the game rules seem fairly straightforward, the assistant put the gutter barriers up to make things easier and they had special ramps to help the babes get rolling.
It was peak time so we could only book 40 minutes of play but that was enough to turn the boys into mini bowling fanatics. You should have seen Jed’s bottom lip when our game time was up.
He perked up soon after when it was time to eat and he could do some colouring.
The All Star Lanes menu is typical Americana fare with a few funky twists – e.g. Jerk. There’s a special kids meal deal that includes a game of bowling, a main dish, drink and dessert all at £15. The main kids’ dish on its own is reasonable at £5.50.
Ezra had a burger and fries with baked beans, plus vanilla milkshake for dessert. Jed went for fish fingers, chips and peas, with chocolate sundae to finish. Their meals got four very enthusiastic thumbs up.
I wasn’t quite so successful. We’d munched through a plate of BBQ chicken wings for starters (a bit dry but well sauced) and I ordered what sounded like a mouthwatering baked soft shell crab in a basket with sweet potato fries.
First my crab turned up battered in a bacon burger (wrong order), then when the actual dish arrived I was disappointed by the crab to chips ratio (teeny crab, way too many chips). Jed helped out with the sweet potato fries though and I made up for it with dessert — a proper vanilla sundae, all swirling chocolate and nuts and creaminess. Lush.
The best part of my meal was liquid. I’d picked a Gin & Elderflower Julep Jar cocktail (£6.50) containing Bombay Sapphire, elderflower cordial, apple juice and mint and it was a heady experience — not because it was strong, but it was so delicious I could easily have drunk 4. Dangerous concoction!
All Star Lanes has a buzzy vibe and makes a great evening out with the kids (bowling is fun for ages 4+), but I recommend avoiding peak times, as the service went a little downhill when more diners arrived.
My meal wasn’t ‘all star’ but next time I’ll choose wiser and overall, the babes were bowled over.
Check out the Food Explorer promotion at Westfield Stratford with meal deals including Kids Eat Free, child cookery classes, free recipe booklet and more tasty offers.
All Star Lanes Westfield Stratford is open 11am-11pm, Mon-Sun.
**Westfield provided us with a gift voucher to enjoy dinner and bowling at All Star Lanes, Stratford.