Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ben-Gals, Bowling and Bon Appetit! (and a GIVEAWAY!)

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to Star Lanes at Newport on the Levee for a private (and free) tasting of their new menu.

Star Lanes is connected to Toro - the nightclub with the mechanical bull - and is in the spot that used to house Cafe Istanbul. The Levee is decorated for the holidays and looked really nice.

Our night was hosted by the manager Brooke - who happens to be a Ben-Gal! She was extremely nice and friendly as well as helpful throughout the whole night. Above is a shot from Brooke's weekend gig courtesy of the Bengals website.

Along with the free food we were about to be showered with - we got to bowl free too! Don't you love bowling shoes - I always want to steal a pair. But...I refrained.

Star Lanes definitely doesn't feel like any bowling alley I've ever been to. But it is pretty new - so that helps. It's high-tech and sleek with leather sofas and hip little stools for extra seating, new balls, etc... It's very nice and clean - which is saying a lot for a bowling alley.

The night started out great on the bowling side for me - look - 2 strikes!!!! (didn't last - Larry kicked my ass)

There's the hubby - with his perfect form. Ugh - stupid boys. 

First up - mozzerella sticks ($5). These are pretty standard but were recently added to be more family-friendly. They were fine - nothing special here - but good.

Brooke shared with us their new signature item menu - all the items are $9.99 and made to be shared with HUGE portions. There are quite a few options here as well - we were going to be trying the Fish & Chips.

We were barraged with food and she prepared us for this - so we just tasted a few bites of everything and then went home with a STACK of to-go boxes. 

They have 6 options for mini-burgers - all are $3.50 each (comes with fries - can get 2 for $6.50 or 3 for $8.50). I wanted to try the tuna burger - it's crusted with cracked pepper and has a wasabi aioli. We tried the sweet potato fries.

This is a meal in itself with a plentiful helping of the sp fries. The fries were a little overdone as was the tuna. I guess I shouldn't expect perfection from a bowling alley. I have to say I like that they had tuna as an option though - it's unique.

Next up were the Chicken Pillows ($7) - chicken dumplings with teriyaki sauce and served with a sweet chili sauce. They're like potstickers and are steamed. I have never had anything like this before (sheltered life maybe) but I liked them a lot! The sauces definitely made the dish but the filling was surprisingly tasty as well.

Most of the times things like this are filled with what my best friend growing up called "monkey meat" - some unidentifiable meat substance that  you just eat without asking questions. This had chicken and you knew it! Yeah!

Next up was my favorite dish of the night - Tomato & Cheese Smores ($5.50). Toasted sandwiches with fresh basil, roasted tomatoes and melted fresh mozzerella. I pretty much wanted to polish off the plate - but knew the rest of the food was coming - it killed me to not eat them all. We didn't pack them up as reheating probably wouldn't be so good. But these were REALLY great! I'll definitely be getting these again.

Next up was a Tomato & Basil Pizza ($5). The pizza was pretty good - nothing special here but a good price for $5. They also have numerous specials - like $2 Tuesday where pizzas are $2 (after 9pm) and during happy hour the cheese or pepperoni pizzas are only $2.

We also got to try the Soft Pretzel Dippers ($4.50) - we had nearly the same dish at Smokey Bones last holiday season. These were better because they were salty! (I love salt) The sauces were queso, honey mustard and herbed butter - all good but the queso was the best match with the salt.

Here was our Family Style Fish & Chips ($9.99). This is a TON of food for ten bucks - 6 fish pieces and fries. Holy cow! The fish was good too - we really enjoyed it and definitely took the leftovers home. Larry already said that next time - we're getting this and the sundae (scroll down) to share while we bowl. What a great deal - I mean $10 and it's sharable - I'm not just saying this because our night was free so I feel like  I have to - this is a really fantastic deal!

And because I'm a dork - here's a picture of the floor with the lights on...

And now - with the lights off! It's hard to see but the pattern on the floor is funky and shows up under the black light. 

Brooke also sent out their Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad ($8) which I must have forgotten to take a picture of. She said she lives on this salad - and it was good. The dressing is a light raspberry vinaigrette and it has grilled chicken, almonds, dried cranberries and GOAT CHEESE! Can't go wrong there. The chicken was really dry - but the salad was good. 

Last up was dessert - we totally were stuffed by this point but Brooke kept telling me I had to try the Chocolate Layer Cake ($6 - like a skinny Ben-Gal eats cake?!)

This cake seriously is huge - I definitely took 90% of this home. My friend Lou would probably like this - it's a simple chocolate cake - nothing fancy - no fruit, etc... It was pretty good - but kinda dry. I mean - for a big ass huge piece of cake - it's good and the ice cream is great. My friend Danielle - who is tiny and athletic - would also love this - she has a secret "dessert pocket" that she is always filling up!

And since they didn't want to leave Larry out - they sent him the Big "Bull" Sundae ($5). Five scoops of ice cream along with a whole lot of other crap! We felt bad because he couldn't even make a dent in it from all the previous items...but he definitely wants to tackle it on our next visit.

Why Should You Go? Let me start by saying - yes - our night of fun was free (we did tip our staff obviously - they were running stuff out all night!) - but I'm an objective hussy - so you know - I always tell it like it is.

We really enjoyed our night at Star Lanes and will definitely be back. Is the food earth-shattering? Well no - but it is good? Better than average I'd say for "bar food". The staff was super-friendly and the bowling isn't that expensive. They have lots of specials - so check their promo page for something that works in your schedule (Mommy & Me, Girls Night Out, etc...) They also did have some stand out items (smores & fish) that will get us back in the door.

Brooke did say that Sat/Sun afternoons are their most affordable times with games being $2 each and shoes $3 (I think that's what it was) - so you can bowl a couple of games for like $10 per person.

So yeah - I really enjoyed Star Lanes and we'll definitely be back.


Giveaway Time!!!! 

They gave me a pair of passes good for a free game of bowling and free shoe rental. Since most people will go with someone - we'll give these away to one person. These are only good Sunday-Thursday and not good for the month of December - so you'll have to hold onto them until January to use them. But enjoy!

How to Enter:

Post a comment below on why you like bowling or why you don't like bowling - yeah that's it! Be sure to leave a way to contact you (twitter or email) and I'll pick a winner next Tuesday!

Good Luck and Happy Thanksgiving! 

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