Perched on a second floor in the bustling West 7th district, the newly opened Lucky Strike Lanes goes against the grain of typical bowling alleys, with a chic and clubby atmosphere and a restaurant offering food far beyond roller-grill hot dogs.
Throughout the 18,000-square-foot space, you'll find all the here-and-now amenities. Above each of the 10 black light-lit bowling lanes are projector screens showing sports games. In the bar area, 18 plasma TVs hover above a 40-foot bar, and below the bar's counter are electrical outlets for laptops and phone chargers, along with purse hooks. Instead of hard plastic chairs, there are couches and handsome booths. Dimly lit by track lighting, it's all very sleek and sexy.
A balcony furnished with wicker furniture and picnic benches overlooks Seventh Street.
A lot of thought and money went into Lucky Strike's design.
Equal emphasis has been placed on the food. No hot dogs or Frito pie here. Rather, the extensive menu includes items such as tuna lollipops, grilled cheese sliders, short ribs, a butter lettuce and candied lemon salad and gourmet pizzas; there's even a gluten-free menu.
Lucky Strike is part of an international chain; there are locations in 12 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. The company started in California, in 2003. Its arrival in May marked the first time an upscale bowling alley has come into Fort Worth, but not North Texas. A similar chain, Splitsville Luxury Lanes & Dinner Lounge, made a go of it in Arlington but closed in May.
By focusing so much on food, Lucky Strike is obviously hoping to lure diners as well as bowlers. During recent visits, there was a lot to like, and a lot that disappointed.
We loved the toppings on the arugula and prosciutto pizza ($11): roasted cherry tomatoes, bite-size squares of soft mozzarella cheese, fresh arugula tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. A garlic sauce used as the base was good, too. But the crust had no taste or texture; it was doughy and floppy and drooped under the weight of the toppings.
An order of mini burgers ($10.50 for three), served on toasted mini garlic buns, was mostly enjoyable. From the eight choices, we picked salmon, bacon cheddar and short rib. Slightly larger than sliders, they came neatly presented, with a pickle chip on top, held by a tall skewer.
The salmon mini burger was terrific. The small piece of fish was nicely seasoned with black pepper and wasabi aioli; a cucumber slice added a cool zest. The bacon and cheddar mini burger was cooked medium well and had an enjoyable, smoky flavor to it. A tiny strip of applewood-smoked bacon gave it a kiss of sweetness. The short-rib mini burger was doused in a tomato-based sauce that overpowered any flavor the shredded meat might have had. The accompanying fries, thin and golden, were pleasantly salty.
From the "small cravings" portion of the menu came an apple and brie quesadilla ($7), one of the better dishes we sampled. Cut into six triangles, a flour tortilla was filled with grilled apple slices and brie cheese, and topped with bacon bits and streaks of mustard-maple syrup. The "syrup" was more mustard, less maple, and had a spicy bite to it.
Less successful was the "deconstructed" chicken potpie ($11). The dish consisted of grilled and sliced chicken breast, mashed potatoes, a croissant, peas, pickled carrot ribbons and brown gravy, described on the menu as a chicken herb reduction, all dumped in a bowl. It was messy and unfocused, and while the ingredients tasted fine on their own, they didn't work well together.
Also a little odd, but really quite good, was the caprese stack ($8), consisting of blistered tomatoes, arugula and sliced mozzarella, all mixed with olive oil, "stacked" on top of three wheat flour chips. Trying to eat this with a fork resulted in chip pieces shooting across the table; it's much easier to eat with your hands.
We also liked the dessert, candied lemon-ricotta cream ($5), which our friendly, fishnetted server said was made in-house. It was layered, like a sundae, with rich, raspberry compote and ricotta cream. It didn't have a lemon-y flavor, but was good nonetheless. Sure beats a box of Sugar Babies.