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Dog Bowl: The Complete Night Out

David Blake on how bowling answers the night's BIG FIVE necessities

Published on October 22nd 2014.

Dog Bowl: The Complete Night Out


SINCE 1607, when we English established our first North American colony and laid the foundations for the most powerful nation in the world, the Americans have given us a number of things in return...

Much like golf - another of the world's most annoying sports - bowling shows absolutely no signs of incremental improvement. One minute you're Bill Murray in Kingpin, the next you're Mr Bean firing at tin cans with a Blunderbuss.

Transistors, rock'n'roll, swivel chairs (invented by President Jefferson, by the way) Ernest Hemingway, jeans, skyscrapers, urinals, Sandra Bullock, all-you-can-eat-buffets, mobile telephones, Curb Your Enthusiasm, someone to wade in when things got out of hand, and, of course, ten-pin bowling.

Dog Bowl, Whitworth Street WestDog Bowl, Whitworth Street West

The Americans didn't invent bowling, mind. The Egyptians did 5000 years ago, or the Germans a few thousand years later, it doesn't matter. But they did make it much more American: TV slots, foam hands, hot dogs like gondola poles, they even replaced the small child with an automatic pin-setter.

They also did what they've always done best, introduced gluttony. They attached fast-food outlets, dive bars and nightclubs to their alleys, meaning bowling became one of very few sports (darts included) where chuffing a beer and burger in between turns was not only acceptable, but could even make you better.

And it's for this very reason that the modern and trendy rebirth of the bowling alley - of which Dog Bowl on Whitworth Street West is a fine example - might just be the most complete night out on offer.

No really. Stick with me...

There are five necessities for a successful night on the town: eating, drinking, entertainment, bonding and... you know, bit of the 'ole Sid James. That's the perfect pentad.

Let's start with the eats. Dog Bowl has gone for full-tilt, shameless Americana: Nachos swamped beneath sauce, burgers piled to the brow, smoking fajitas, fried chicken and wings so hot they could brand a cow's bottom. The only way the food could be more American is if it was served with John Goodman sat on top.

The pornographic DB burger %28%26#163%3B15%29The pornographic DB burger

Dog BowlDog Bowl

If you're looking for a showstopper, something that could stop even Goodman in his tracks, you'll struggle to find anything in the city as daunting as Dog Bowl's signature, The D.B. (£15). This is a pornographic amount of food: triple burger, pulled pork, smoked brisket, Monterey jack cheese, smoked bacon, bourbon bbq sauce and onion rings, held together only by sword.

Cooked with the help of imported smokers and three different types of woodchip, it was, as Accountant Dave (looking a little Bruce Bogtrotter) summed up: "As if the chef has emptied an entire livestock farm into the barbeque and closed the lid for three weeks. It's unfinishable." Perhaps share this one between two, or seven.

The southern fried chicken (three pieces for £6) was similarly sturdy, with creamed potatoes and lashings of gravy. There's healthier options too, the veg fajitas (£9.50) got ravaged.

Joints well-oiled by trays of Brooklyn beer and the odd boozey milkshake (£5.50 each, the bourbon banana smash carries more punch than you'd think), we collected shoes, ribbed the guy with size seven feet and took to the lanes.

Dog Bowl has only five lanes. Which, when chancing your luck late on a Friday, can be very annoying. However, if you've booked (which you should always do from Thursday through to Sunday), the reduced lanes trump those 25 lane Hollywood Bowl behemoths for two key reasons.

Firstly, there are plenty of balls to go around. So no scrambling for the twelves. Secondly, there are less people to witness you do this (and he's a pro)...

Games last roughly an hour (with six players) and are a rollercoaster ride of unexpected highs and utter destitution. Much like golf - another of the world's most annoying sports - bowling shows absolutely no signs of incremental improvement. One minute you're Bill Murray in Kingpin, the next you're Mr Bean firing at tin cans with a Blunderbuss.

And that's what makes it so bloody great. The unpredictability of it all, the episodes of outlandish bravado followed by public disgrace, the string of three perfect strikes (lucky that one, Dave) followed by a gutterball, the high-fives, the head in hands, the point-and-giggles.

No other night on the town, not the theatre, not clubbing, not the cinema, not a gig, no other boasts the same breadth of human emotion, action and voracity as bowling. And that's the reason you'll not find a more complete night out in the city, under one roof at least.

And the final ingredient of the perfect petrad? Dog Bowl can't help you with that one...

Dog Bowl, Whitworth Street West, Manchester, M1 5WW. 0161 228 2888.

Offers available here.

Dog BowlDog Bowl

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