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All Star Lanes Food Review

Gordo is bowled over by chicken wings in BBQ sauce with a serving of the Stones

Written by . Published on August 12th 2013.


All Star Lanes Food Review

ALL Star Lanes is a bowling alley, an Americana restaurant and a cocktail bar, all rolled into one, housed in the slow-to-get-going Great Northern Warehouse.

The pork fell apart with the fork, a manageable chunk dipped in the sauce, topped with a couple of beans introducing the fat one to a little bit of heaven whilst the Stones were bangin’ out Doom and Gloom. This experience was anything but.

It has as much to do with bowling alleys in places like White City and Belle Vue thirty years ago, as Wimpy burgers has to do with the Northern Quarter burger guys such as Solita today. Rock all.

This venue is slick, the feel is contemporary. Mish-mash pastel colours and clashing prints on the walls, comfortable leather booths in the restaurant, slick dark wood and open industrial ceilings give you the same buzz Gordo got twenty years ago walking into Robert de Niro’s gaff in the Meat Packing District in NYC. It has the best soundtrack of any place in the city, heavily led by 70s and 80s rock, not unlike Mojo who just beats them, albeit as a bar playing more Hendrix.

Gordo has eaten here twice. He hasn’t done the cocktail bar yet, nor actual bowling (buggered up right arm, another 18 months to go) so he is concentrating on the food.

He was supposed to be reviewing a one star Michelin over near Chester. When he arrived to pick up his dining partner, she was up to her eyes in a chicken roast for the family; the dinner was actually for the day after. Those pain pills for the arm have a lot to answer for.

Retiring wounded and feeling not a little pissed off, he decided to grab that second dinner on the way home. The first was done in a rush with a woman who was taking up too much of his brain at the time, both from looks and personality. If she could cook, she would have been in some considerable danger.

All Star Lanes

Gordo just fancied some dirty food at that point and he sat down, ordered a Diet Coke, which came in a bottle (note, far superior to those filthy pumps) and looked at the menu.

It’s southern state white trash food. Not dissimilar to Gordo’s favourite gaff Southern Eleven. They (Southern Eleven) do the best buttermilk marinated southern fried chicken in the world. At least Gordo’s world anyway. In All Star Lanes, Gordo was a little let down to be told that the chicken was off. So this second time he had to have fried chicken wings, followed by an uninspiring sounding pork and beans for main.

The chicken wings with BBQ sauce (£6) arrived in a very hot skillet, a blue cheese sauce interfering with the portion size in the corner. They were small, but lots of them. They were also absolutely bloody great. They got up, stripped the crispy meat off themselves, slapped Gordo around his cheeks then went on a tongue assault course, spraying his taste buds with the best ever tangy BBQ sauce. Honestly, bloody brilliant.

Chicken wings at All Star LanesChicken wings 

Gordo doesn’t get blue cheese sauce. This one was ignored after the first dip. It’s like putting clothes on women, wholly unnecessary in Gordo’s considered PC opinion. Just sayin’ like.

Then the pork and beans. Looking great on the eye, a fist sized chunk surrounded by a tangy, still slightly runny, deep coke-coloured, massively flavoured sauce with a mattress of big butter beans on top, soaking up the flavours, light-sweet and deep-sour.

The pork fell apart with the fork, a manageable chunk dipped in the sauce, topped with a couple of beans introducing the fat one to a little bit of heaven whilst the Stones were bangin’ out Doom and Gloom. This experience was anything but.

It could not get better. But it did. The side dish of smoked mash (£3.75), whipped smooth and sploshed onto the main dish, was a bit like dropping Cantona into that United squad all those years ago. Masterful. I kid you not. On a par with La Cote St Jacques, a three star Michelin at Joigny, France. 

Pork and beans at All Star LanesPork and beans

They have been serving the best black pudding with a pureed mash for at least thirty years to Gordo’s knowledge. This went with the pork so well it was a crime not to be part of the dish. This was down to a little bit of greediness, more of which later.

Cherry pie (£6) really was an afterthought. Great filling, not a Sara Lee sickly affair, but with a slightly soft pastry, a problem Gordo couldn’t put his hand on. A small ball of ice cream wasn’t enough to moisten this, an individual pie that would and could be hugely improved by making big deep dish affairs with lashings of cream. Slice of Twin Peaks pie anyone?

The kicker here is the pricing. It’s overshot the norm up here in the North West, producing a meal without wine around forty quid. The management in Gordo’s mind needs to be including a side free of charge. That mash, for example, should be in the cost of the pork and beans

Cherry pie at All Star LanesCherry pie

A bottle of still water was delivered, full sized when it should have been the small one, a small mistake that cost service a perfect score. Apart from that, totally brilliant staff, led by the delightful and delightfully named Iwona. She was definitely out of Twin Peaks.

This is definitely a Gordo Go. Don’t just come here with bowling in mind, it’s worth crossing Deansgate for. If you like Southern Eleven, you’ll fall in love with All Star Lanes.

You can follow Gordo on Twitter here @gordomanchester

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE. 

Great Northern Warehouse, 235 Deansgate, M3 4EN. 0161 871 3600.

Rating: 17/20 (please read the scoring system in the box below, venues are rated against the best examples of their kind)


Food: 8.25/10 (chicken wings 8, pork and beans 9, smoked mash 10, cherry pie 6)
Service: 4.75/5
Ambience: 4/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

JimAugust 12th 2013.

I've been here 4 times now and I think the food is absolutely fantastic. Far superior than the food offered in Dogbowl. The sides of smoked mash and butterbeans are amongst the two best sides you can get in Manchester. Its expensive but I think well worth it

Barry MaginnAugust 12th 2013.

Just a question, why write in the third person? Is this some kind of cool convention I've missed the memo on?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

Nope, he's just a bellend. Best to avoid the top 30% of any Gordo review whilst he prattles on about himself. Shame really because the reviews are pretty accurate otherwise. You'll miss the majority of the misogynistic comments that way too. (COMMENT EDITED)

GordoAugust 18th 2013.

Well, anonymous, I'll take that as a backhanded compliment, although the acting editor, bless her, didn't much mind like you calling me a rapist. What a deeply unpleasant person you are. As for writing in the the third person, Barry, I started 10 years ago by wanting to educate, inform, irritate and entertain, about food and booze, with 2000 emails on my list. I know have over a quarter of a million readers, so it must be working somehow.

GordoAugust 18th 2013.

Still desperately need good sub editors mind you...

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

Disagree completely. Food was distinctly average, service was even worse. The bill was wrong 4 times due to staff adding cocktails that we hadn't had but insisting we did. Manager on this occasion was very smarmy and kept insisting on how he understood what good customer service was! "IF YOU KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT IT THEN DO IT!"

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

We went there for a work's night out last Friday and whilst MOST of the food was very good, we had serious issues with the service. The biggest issue was the wait - there were only 10 of us so it wasn't a huge party yet we were waiting for nearly an hour. They gave us a bucket of beer for our troubles but still not acceptable. I also had the chicken wings and they're good but not great, and clearly come from very small chickens! The biggest let down was a hamburger one girl had - a good vet would have saved it. I'm all for good steak burgers being SLIGHTLY pink and love rare steaks, but this was RAW and anyone who knows anything about food knows the dangers of service mince raw - bacteria lives on the outside of the steak, you mince it up and now its on the inside. Heat it to luke warm at the little blighters multiply and are everywhere - could do someone serious harm! What made it worse is the waitress and manager looked at us like this was correct when we sent it back. Would give it another go as I love this style of food but room for imporvement.

Poster BoyAugust 13th 2013.

And please, no more describing food as "dirty". Like "street" and "pop-up" it all too try-hard...

JimAugust 29th 2013.

Tried to get in tonight. Booked for another corporate event. Its getting very annoying this place!

JimSeptember 15th 2013.

My trials with this place get worse and worse. Despite the fact on the numerous times I have been there its been empty I've now been told if I want to book a game of bowling between 6pm -10pm Wednesday to Saturday I have to also eat there. I like the food but it is very expensive and so don't always want to commit to a meal as well! I hope this is a sign that they are doing better as a business as I don't want it to fail but really I've never had so much trouble trying to book bowling!

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