Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cocktails and Bar Food @ Lucky Strike

Tonight's culinary adventures were pretty radically different from the dining I've been doing lately.  No Michelin stars were involved, yet amusingly, a dress code was.  In a big change of pace, we headed to Lucky Strike, a swanky new bowling alley in SOMA.

The space used to be a Borders, and is now filled with a very large bar and lounge area, tons of flat screen TVs, and of course, the bowling alley (10 lanes?).  It is all very modern, sleek, and basically exactly what you'd expect from a brand new, expensive, bowling alley in that part of town.

Service wasn't great.  I ordered a cocktail, and it took ... 45 minutes.  Yes, 45 minutes.  The server came by several times and did ask if it had arrived yet, so he was being attentive, but seriously, WTF?  He did remove it from the bill as well.  Someone else asked for water, and it never came.  Nor did the napkins or plates we asked for.  Our mac and cheese arrived without silverware (I think this is the only menu item that would normally use silverware, so I guess they aren't too used to people needing it?)  I wasn't really expecting great service in a bowling alley, so this pretty much matched expectations.

Clearly, most people go there for the bar.  Or to bowl.  They don't go for the food.  But ... food is what I am all about, and thus, I was there to seriously evaluate it.  We ordered a variety of items off of the menu, which tried to be fairly high end bar food: sliders, tacos, sushi, fries, fondue, wings, deviled eggs, mac & cheese, nachos. Most of it was pretty awful, with the only decent thing being the fries and dipping sauces.  Full reviews below.

One other thing ... eating finger foods and bowling at the same time is really gross.  Everything, except the mac and cheese, was finger foods, and it felt really wrong to eating with the same hands that were using the public bowling balls.

Speaking of the bowling facilities.  They were nice.  Plentiful balls, no equipment failures, modern software.  Fairly large space for food/drinks in-between each lane, and a big back counter as well.  My only real complaint about the space is that it was too narrow.  It was really hard to get to the lane from the seating area if others were seated, we were constantly needing to ask each other to move.

Homemade Belgian Fries.  Curry Ketchup, Spicy Russian & Chimichuri Aioli.  $5.75.
These were really quite good.  Thick fries, with a rather addicting sweet + spicy rub on them.  Some skin on.  There were a mix of Idaho and Kinnebek potatoes, all supposedly "hand cut" and twice fried. The exteriors were crisp, the insides soft and fluffy.  I really enjoyed the spices on them as well.

But we all know how much I love sauces, and these were no exception!  Each order comes with your choice of two sauces.  For the first order, we had the curry ketchup and the spicy russian and chimichuri aioli.  The second time around, we got the chipotle mayo.  I usually don't care for curry ketchup, but this was really well balanced with a nice curry flavor.  The chipotle mayo had a slight kick and was addicting in the way that mayo is.  The spicy Russian and chimichuri aioli was very similar.

I genuinely liked the fries and thought they were good, with or without the sauces.  Not that I've had a lot of fries, but these were probably the best I've had in recent memory.  A kinda small portion for the price though.
Fresh guacamole,  arbol chili tomato salsa, and fresh corn tortilla chips.  $5.75.
Tortilla chips were very thin style, crispy, but completely flavorless.  Definitely needed some salt or something.  The salsa was pretty blended, without any substantial chunks, and had a little bit of kick to it, and some smokiness.  People said it reminded them of Papalote.  The guacamole seemed fresh enough, had some little chunks of avocado and tomato, but wasn't particularly noteworthy.

This was all very generic.  I've had much better chips, salsa, and guac at other places.  Not really worth ordering.
Deviled eggs.  $6.75.
These were beyond generic.  No flavor in the filling whatsoever.  I don't know how they managed to create something so bland.  You didn't taste the yolk, you didn't taste mayo, you didn't taste spices.  Just ... nothing.  They normally come with bacon, but we had vegetarians in the group, so we got them without.  You can also add crab on top for $1 more.  Perhaps they would have been good with those items in addition?  They were also completely sloppy looking.

Would never order again.
Mac n' cheese, brown rice pasta, gluten free.  $10.75.
More generic bland food.  Decent creaminess to the sauce, but it wasn't very cheesy, and needed some salt.  The pasta was nicely cooked however.  It is strange that they choose to make their mac and cheese with brown rice pasta as the only option, given how pretty much everything else on the menu contained gluten, it isn't like they were trying to avoid it in general.  That said, I wouldn't have known it was GF pasta unless I'd read the menu.

As we had no silverware, we had to eat this using the tortilla chips.

Certainly not worth the price.
Grilled Chicken Wings, celery, Maytag blue cheese.  $9.75.
The menu said "buffalo style" but these were covered in bbq sauce.  I don't really like wings, so I didn't have one, but no one in our group finished these, so I'm guessing they weren't very good.  It is also totally disgusting to eat these with bowling hands.

The celery seemed fresh enough, but the blue cheese dip was yet again, flavorless.  I would have guessed it was ranch, not blue cheese, as the blue cheese flavor really didn't come through at all, it was just creamy.  Given how good the dipping sauces for the fries were, this surprised me.
Grilled fish crispy tacos, baja rub.  Served with salsa and guacamole.  $12.25.
Crispy tacos?  Not really.  The shells were too greasy to be crisp, they were more soggy than anything else.  Way, way too oily.

Inside the shells was mostly shredded iceberg lettuce.  Thank you Lucky Strike, for reminding me that iceberg lettuce exists.  I honestly haven't encountered it in several years.  On top of the iceberg lettuce was tons of some sort of mayo sauce.  The menu didn't say anywhere that it was going to come with this sauce, so I have no idea what it was.  It had no flavor whatsoever.  On top of that, was the fish.  The fish was pretty dried out, and again, pretty flavorless.  I saw the baja rub, but sure didn't taste it.

The salsa and guac were the same forgettable versions as we got with the chips earlier.

These were overall just really horrible.  Greasy, mostly just iceberg lettuce, drenched in mayo, and fairly skimpy portion of fish.  Skip, skip, skip.
Short rib crispy tacos, Bill's special marinade, braised for 5 hours. $13.75.
After eating the horrible fish tacos, I wasn't exactly inspired to try these.  They were the only type of taco the group finished, so perhaps they were better?
Grilled chicken crispy tacos, simmered in fresh chilies. $10.75.
These were basically the same as the fish tacos.  Ridiculously greasy shell.  Iceberg lettuce.  TONS of the mayo sauce.  At least with these, there was a reasonable amount of chicken.

The chicken was mostly white meat, pretty moist, and not all that bad.  I didn't pick up the chili taste, but overall, not bad meat.  But the rest of the components were just as bad as in the fish tacos.
Dreamsicle: Vanilla vodka, Grand Marnier, orange juice, and Strauss organic soft serve.  $12.
The cocktail menu had a number of amazing sounding drinks.  And a handful of them contained soft serve ice cream!  How can you resist a drink with soft serve ice cream?  This sounded like it would be like a creamsicle - creamy, orangey, and delicious.  It also sounded like it would take me back to my college days, where I had my share of screwdrivers.

I waited 45 minutes for this thing of wonder to arrive!  I was so excited!  But ... it wasn't very good.  It was kinda just bitter.  It seemed like the ratios were off in the juice and alcohol.  And it really wasn't very orangey.  The vanilla soft serve however, was delicious.  They have soft serve on the dessert menu, which you can top with chocolate, raspberry, or salted caramel sauce.  If I were to ever return, I'd just get the soft serve.
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