all star lanes manchester
On my very first trip to Manchester after moving ‘Up North’, All Star Lanes caught my eye. Situated just off of Deansgate in The Great Northern Warehouse, the building simply can’t escape your attention.

Last weekend, The Manfriend and I finally booked in for date night (avec balls, burgers, and bowling shoes).

All Star Lanes is rather slick from the second you step through the door. The open plan bowling alley-cum-restaurant has also done well to become the epitome of an ‘all-American’ establishment, all the way down to the lines of Big Red gum decorating the bowling counter.

Intrigued by the amount of mega-heeled platforms lining the wall of bowling shoe swaps, we changed into our complimentary kicks and shuffled off towards our lane.

As far as bowling goes, I’m nothing to blog about (…yes, I lost. Yes, I got a gutter ball or five) but I loved the experience nonetheless. Each of their eight lanes are manned by waiters, so whether you and your best mates want to get silly on Blue Moon en masse (hello, lane seven!) or you believe you can manage a full cookie-crumbled milkshake before dinner (guess who), there is something for everyone.

Defeated and less hungry than I would have liked to have been, I changed out of my bowling shoes and joined the winning party in the restaurant for some a starter, a main, and a hit of caffeine.

My favourite part of the entire meal (and the immediate apple of my menu-reading eye) was the Smoked Mac & Cheese Croquettes with roast onion and balsamic dip. Between this genius comfort food creation and a nibble of one of The Manfriend’s crispy and ridiculously saucy BBQ chicken wings, I would have been happy to end the meal there.

And perhaps should have. This is not to say that anything was wrong with my main (buttermilk fried chicken and sweet potato fries), I simply had no appetite left for it after the aforementioned milkshake and starter.

You guys, I even refused a bite of a brioche-bunned Monterey Jack cheeseburger from the other side of the table. THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

Guiltily leaving more than half of each plate behind, I have since vowed to return at a later date and refuse all milkshake temptations until all food has been given a fair change (I am kicking myself for missing out on their warm cornbread with jalapeño salsa, nacho cheese and chilli jam – this is Indiana ON A PLATE).

My vote? Go. Eat. Play. Stay ’til 2am on Saturdays, if you dare (a little drunk bowling couldn’t hurt, eh?).

all star lanes manchester
all star lanes manchester
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hello may
May feels kind of like a ‘nothing’ month, doesn’t it? While the UK gears up for festival season, sunshine holidays and weddings galore, May just kind of sits there…looking pretty. With your varied interests in mind, I thought I’d drum up a little list of UK-wide (and slightly special) things to do over the month of May…

1. Eat at City Social
On the 1st, Jason Atherton finally crashed into The City by taking over top of Tower 42 (‘the National Westminster Tower’, to some of us). As well as hosting something of a jazz club on Saturday afternoons, the menu reads better than any Atherton restaurant to date; theCumbrian beef tartare, with sour dough crouton, goat’s curd, truffle dressing, and dried vinegar sounds absolutely unreal.

2. Experience West Side Story in Leeds
The Leeds Grands Theatre is being taken over by the gangs of New York’s Upper West Side from the 20th to 31st of May. While I’m obviously talking about West Side Story, the UK revival of what I only know as a very American musical (based on the Bard’s Romeo and Juliet) is too intriguing to pass up.

3. Rock out with Nine Inch Nails
Following the release of Hesitation Marks, Nine Inch Nails are going to be melting faces at The O2 on May 23rd. Literally recording music longer than I’ve been alive, the band’s 30-million-plus album sales say it all: this concert is going to be larger than life.

4. Visit The House of Peroni
The House of Peroni is back again – this time showcasing four floors, three bars, one temporary restaurant and a laundry list of amazing small workshops in an unassuming Holborn townhouse over the month of May. As well as a mix of street food, music, Peroni (obvs), and more, one of the most sold-out events is a recurring fashion workshop that teaches you to own designer-esque silk scarf. Book in while you can!

5. Do al fresco cinema at Spinningfields
Thursday nights at Manchester’s Spinningfields have gone all Hollywood on us. Each week until August 21st, patrons are welcome to pull up a deckchair (provided) and enjoy a classic cinematic experience on The Lawns. Only costing £3 (and surrounded by plenty of food and drink options), Spinningfields have just become date night perfected.

almost famous burgers manchester
Sometimes I really hate reviewing food.

Not that I’m ungrateful (far from it!) – I simply have a problem sitting down to start blogging after a tough workout and healthy breakfast, only to develop an insane craving for a dirty-as-they-come burger.

I think my mouth is throbbing. And I’m blaming Almost Famous.

This restaurant is so wrapped up in burger hype that I felt it be sacrilege not to order one…or two…with loads of fries…and crack wings….and cocktails. Ahem.

Though almost all of the burgers on Almost Famous’ menu start with a double cheeseburger base, each and every one is met with a flurry of – slightly insane – toppings. My best friend couldn’t take his eyes off of the River Phoenix; the double topped with bacon, BBQ fried onions, frazzles, baconnaise, chipotle ketchup, BBQ sass, and fresh chilli. With the trifecta of bacon (and bacon-esque) toppings on offer, it sounds much more sickly than it actually is. Somehow, the high-low mix of ‘ingredients’ like fresh chilli and Frazzles worked.

Jumping off the deep end, I went for what I was most intimidated by: the super saucy Baddaboom. While this burger was topped with just one slice of bacon, the other ingredients (chorizo, onions, marinara, famous sauce, frenchs, parmesan, and chilli) maxxed out all available space inside the garlic butter brioche. Beautifully so. The chilli and chorizo added another dimension to what I’m sure is a disgustingly calorific food mountain.

Deciding to share some ‘Winning’ fries (heavily house seasoned skin-on and sweet potato fries) in between bites of their ‘Crack Wings‘, I was in Americana heaven. The wings come in ‘Suicide’ (HOT!), ‘Redneck’ (BBQ) and the soy-based ‘Pho-king amazing’ sauce. I went for the latter, and fell in love with the asian sensation (I’m positive the sauce had some sriracha in it).

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about Almost Famous was ordering at the bar. While I don’t expect much ‘service’ from any restaurant I go to, I have had low-key table service at restaurants/cafes that cost less than half as much. Waiting ten minutes to order food, another few minutes for cocktails to be made, and then having to carry them – and a purse – back to the table? It prevented me from ordering more drinks. It’s a disservice to an otherwise awesome establishment.

Note: Like all good burger joints in this day and age, Almost Famous has a no booking policy that means two hour waits are not uncommon on a Friday or Saturday. If you can’t hack a queue, don’t think you need to write it off. Lunchtimes are still buzzy (but queueless), and a Thursday evening visit will keep you in a happy food coma until the weekend arrives.

almost famous burgers manchester
almost famous burgers manchester
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