Thursday, November 18, 2004
bowling at lucky strike
i used to bowl at the hollywood lanes, before it was demo'd a couple of years ago. i take that back--i used to drink killer screwdrivers and eat french fries while waiting for a lane to open up during league nights, and occasionally find myself with a bowling ball attached to my hand at the hollywood lanes.
it's surprising to me how popular bowling is in los angeles, but how few bowling alleys there actually are. the closest "real" bowling alley to me is in mar vista, which is in a part of west la that has not really changed all that much since the sixties--growth and expansion, sure, but in terms of architecture and attitude it's still a 'sixties so cal 'burb. not a bad thing by any means. if i had a family in los angeles, i'd seriously consider living in this 'hood. but bowling is serious here, and every night is league night--forget about getting a lane after 6pm.
so where is a casual bowler to go. the hollywood and highland complex--which is almost completely useless to most people as a badly designed tourist trap--surprisingly houses the only bowling alley left in hollywood, lucky strike. it's not so much a bowling alley as a restaurant, bar, and lounge featuring a bowling alley. if you are coming here strictly to bowl, you'll probably find the lanes excessively dark but fairly decent (bring your own ball, the ones provided are oddly sized), with new equipment, and virtually no lag time. however, it will also be one of the most expensive games you'll ever bowl (two games for 3 people set us back $42), but no one comes here just to bowl. actually, maybe the tourists next to us did. they were a little shell-shocked lookin'.
as far as bars and lounges go, it's pretty nice. warm woods, low slung comfy sofas and lounges in muted tones, with old advertisement and movie posters scattered throughout. the 12-lane bowling alley, which is in full view of the restaurant and bar, is decorated with old signs and ornaments scavenged from hollywood lanes (which you might remember from the big lebowski), video screens with various video installations and contemporary art flashing overhead, and lanes with names of old hollywood legends--sinatra, gable, hayworth, and chaplin, to name a few. i think the low tables between the sofas in the alley are made from wood from the lanes of hollywood lanes.
you can eat as you bowl, and although they provide copious napkins, it might be better to provide a basket of moist towelettes. the food is actually quite good. it is supervised by a well-known local catering company, along came mary, and the menu revolves around an assortment of easy-to-eat party fare/finger food. we had a platter of chicken appetizers which included grilled skewers of dark meat marinated in hoisin sauce and served with a peanut coconut dip, boneless buffalo bites with bleu cheese, and chicken tenderloins lightly fried with a mustard dip. the chicken was moist and flavourful, and frankly, after the food came, we sort of lost interest in bowling. we also ordered a basket of french fries which were thin, greaseless, piping hot, and only marginally eclipsed by an amazing bowl of warm fresh potato chips topped by crumbled bleu cheese that melted with the heat of the chips. aaaaaah. soooo good. definitely try this one at home. it was a little crazy because in order to keep our hands clean for the game, we had to eat them with forks, but that only made them more tempting. next time we'd like to try the crab cakes, the bite-sized mac and cheese balls, and something called tomato and cheese s'mores (i'm guessing mini-grilled cheese sandwiches). they have some tempting looking salads, too, but i don't think they'd be easy to eat whilst rolling a ball.
the music can be a little too loud, a little too awful, and the crowd a little more rowdy, but we had such a good time that only one of us minded that our scores were sort of pitiful. we arrived early in the evening, so it was only half-full, but i'm sure the place gets packed on weekends and late nights. still, i think we'll be back.