It's probably unusual for a food blogger to review a bowling alley, they are not particularly famed for offering the highest of good to gobble produce. The offerings are more often than not lacklustre, greasy, cooked up by spotty teenagers who (let's be honest) don't give a flying f**k about the food or the job that their doing they just want their cash at the end of the day to whirl back in to the company as they try and get the highest score on their favourite arcade game. I think I have even frequented a bowling alley where the food offering was a Wimpy. A Wimpy, do they still even exist? The connotations of eating in a alley aren't great either with the drifting smell of sweaty feet from the overused bowling shoes and powdered substances floating in the air as they try and dispel the smells from the shoes, an asthmatics nightmare.
Hollywood bowl invited me for a night of 'VIP Bowling' in their newly refurbished venue in Kirkstall, normally I'd say no... because, well I'm a food blogger and also these events tend to be filled with young students or graduates who get a lot more Instagram likes than I, because well... their young (attractive) students or graduates with a much higher (word) social circle than my own. Unfortunately all those *friends* you used to have start to drop off one by one as you get older, and as you get older you find yourself waiting for one or two to drop off so you no longer have to converse with them. I'm clearly becoming cynical and grumpy with age, but I think we've established this before.
Any how, as you can probably guess I accepted the invitation to go to Hollywood bowl. Along with the refurb and the VIP bowling they were also boasting a new food menu, set to be worlds away from what we know and hate of regular bowling alleys. Let's be frank, with the opening of the likes of Roxy Lanes in the city centre, albeit smaller, Hollywood bowl were going to need to up their game to entice people over to Kirkstall.
Hollywood Bowl have spent £500,000 on the refurb, which is a corker of a sum. Although the layout is almost identical to what it was before the place just feels a lot 'cleaner'. The seating has been ripped out and replaced with new leather seating with looks a lot smarter and less typical of the ageing alley.
More focus has been paid on the food than ever before with handmade burgers on offer, hotdogs served in a brioche roll, some more options for vegetarians and ..... You can eat at the new 50s diner (complete with a sawn in half car that you can dine in) or at the lane as you bowl. We tried a few bits and pieces out whilst we were there including samples of the popcorn chicken (has a little kick), halloumi (served on sticks but usually in a burger), hotdogs (I approve of the brioche bun), and the burger (tasty patties sadly missing the brioche buns on this occasion).
The food isn't Michelin star worthy, it would be an odd accompaniment if it was, but it's certainly a lot better than it was and than it is in some of the traditional bowling alleys, it's easy to eat food that you can grab a bite of between strikes (or more likely spares in my experience). It's child friendly too with a smaller selection for the kiddie winks.
Desserts come in the form of American classics (on theme) such as banana split and key lime pie, although if I'm going to recommend anything I would suggest their milkshakes. The milkshakes are thick and creamy (probably not wise to consume if your arteries are almost fit to burst) and come in some interesting flavours such as Oreo, Nutella and amaretti biscuit.
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The advantage Hollywood Bowl has over Roxy Lanes is that it's not restrictive in the evening to under 18s, it's a more family orientated place rather than lads on the lash, 30th birthday celebration venue close to the cities bars.
One of the things I will continue to promote about Hollywood Bowl is their accessibility policies, Hollywood Bowl is not only a bowling alley that caters to families, large parties, couples on dates, students (see their website for discount rates) but also for those who sometimes find things a little more difficult than the rest of us. Ramps are present on most lanes for those players in wheel chairs or with limited mobility, they run sessions during the week that are catered for those with learning disabilities and if you're diagnosed with epilepsy they will shut off the lanes flashing lights for you. If you need any other amendments just give them a call and they will see what they can do to help.
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