My partner in the office, Kat, and I decided to take our staff out to bowling after a long day of training. Downtown Toronto has been long void of a bowling alley, but this January a new lounge/alley opened up in a former restaurant down in the entertainment district. We decided this would make for a great social.
Inside the place was pretty swanky - this is not your average bowling alley. We walked in with Michael Jackson playing over the crash of pins. Even though it was just after 5, the place was packed. The lanes cannot be reserved (first come first serve basis) so we were in a wait for 45 minutes. We decided to go upstairs and grab a bite to eat from the restaurant.
It was quite wide open inside, centralized by a large bar. While the place has a classy lounge feel, there are huge screens everywhere with sports on. So sports bar meets lounge meets bowling alley.
There are lots of bowling themed elements to the place. Some tables were painted like the bowling lanes, or my favourite, the bowling pin chandelier.
Several of us sampled from their menu. Kathy went with the Cobb Salad.
Here is Sally`s Veggie lasagna with salad and toast.
My non-flash photo (looks like something a camera phone takes) is of onion rings. Yes those are onion rings. Someone mentioned they look like doughnuts they were so big and puffy.
Kat ordered deep fried pickles. However I have never seen DFP like these. Instead of using dill pickles, they used whole gherkins. While a gherkin is a fine pickle on its own, it was NOT appreciated in this incarnation. Kat even asked the waitress what people have said about them, and the waitress said the reaction has been mixed.
There was also a plate of Spiced Sweet Potato Chips. Cut super thin and very crispy, these were very tasty. The common consensus was that these were over salted though.
The Nachos were shared by Matt, Maansi and Melanie and everyone seemed happy. Matt mentioned the long plate allowed for better coverage of cheese and topping instead of one tall mound. Salsa, sour cream and guac came on the side.
Of course, the first thing on the menu was wings, so you know what I got.
The wings are tossed in sauce, then grilled over an open flame. They are not cheap (over $1 a wing). There was a nice warm aroma from the wings mixed with the smell of flame kissed chicken.
They were accompanied by celery and carrots sticks and dip. The carrot sticks and celery were sliced super tiny - like toothpicks. When I looked at the dip, I didn't know what it was at first, being slightly yellow. But once I dipped in I found chunks of blue cheese. It was creamy and tasted good as blue cheese dip, just a slightly different colour.
The wings were medium in size, and a medium in meatiness. The first wing or two I ate, all I could taste was the char from the sugary BBQ sauce that caramelized and burned on the grill. But once and a while there the underlying hint of sweet BBQ sauced.
Since the Hellfire! sauce is served on the side (for an extra $2) I decided to get the wings BBQ flavoured and I could dip them in the Hellfire!. For the BBQ you have the choice of heat, and I asked for hot, but no heat came through. I think these would really have been better with a final glaze of sauce on them.
The Hellfire! sauce was, as Jemy described, like a chutney. It was a paste of chilies and heats and spices. It was thick and did not apply to the wings well. It definetely had a kick. Jasmik and Jemy, two people who can eat spicy found it hot. I did too - it was a slow burn. At first you think there is nothing, but it grows and grows. Flavour wise I did not like it. It was earthy and it had layers, it wasn't for me.
Eventually we got to go bowling. Let me tell you, you are paying a premium for playing downtown. One lane on a Saturday evening for one hour of 10 Pin bowling was $73. Plus shoe rentals for $5. And with only 9 lanes, there is a guaranteed wait time.
That being said, it was a lot of fun. Rocking music, leather couches to sit on, and some star bowlers. I was doing ok, but I was playing with an injured hand. Ya, that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.
FINAL SCORE: The bowling was fun, the place was cool, but the food was hit and miss. I feel like they were trying to go with a 'classy' chicken wing with grilling and special super heats, but they didn't work for me. And again, dill pickles are the appropriate choice for DFP's. 4.5/10
145 John Street, Toronto ON