All Star Lanes, Brick Lane, London

An underwhelming, overpriced burger

Burger source

The premise of the All Star Lanes experience is high-end bowling and American food & drink. It delivers on the bowling, and of course the drink side – its bourbon and US beer selection is pretty good for London. How does it fare on the food side of things? Well, the burger section of the menu at least is reasonably extensive. Not only do “bun” options include pulled pork, sliders and hot dogs, but the main burger options are interesting and the topping options are plentiful – everything from Monterey Jack cheese and treacle-cured bacon to chargrilled lobster tail, fried buttermilk chicken, kimchikraut, duck fried egg and many more. Including (for £6), a Wagyu beef patty being swapped in for the regular one.

The burger itself involves a patty made of “6oz steak and rib cap patty”, toasted brioche, lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo, smoked tomato and mayo relish. So far, so good, right?

The order

I was rather excited about the food, so I went for the “King Pin” – a Classic burger with Monterey Jack and treacle cured bacon… but swapped out the regular patty for a Wagyu one! The burger came with fries… and naturally for a drink, it was an old fashioned – made with Woodford Reserve. I started with popcorn squid…

The meat of it

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The popcorn squid was served in an American style Chinese takeaway box with chopsticks and some tangy mayo. It was deep fried, and – with a squeeze of lemon and the mayo – utterly delicious. Crisp and tasty.

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The burger looked and smelled amazing – the classic funk of dry-aged Wagyu on a perfect stack; crisp lettuce, sweet tomato, perfectly melty jack on the patty and topped with stiff bacon with the promise of crisp crunch. Even the brioche was perfect.

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But the cross section began to reveal some flaws. The burger was overcooked -well done instead of the medium necessary for a juicy mouthfeel. The meat was overpacked – and, on tasting, slightly chewy in texture. It was also – to my palate – slightly underseasoned, and the Jack was mild to the point of flavourlessness. The bacon was chewy rather than crispy, and the relish and bun together were too sweet – a mustard mayo or garlic aioli would have been a better contrast.  Don’t get me wrong, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts (thankfully) and the burger was fine on the whole. But it was not worth the premium cost (£18!), nor one of the better examples of a gourmet burger in London.

The fries were straight out disappointing – cold at point of delivery, slightly underfried. Well-seasoned, and good quality potato, but not really worth the eating. They were mostly abandoned, a rarity for me.

To be fair – we were a party of 18 people , so it’s possible it was just too much to handle, and the food is better at its best.

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The drink… whilst my main tipple for the evening was a very fine, unfussy Old Fashioned – whilst we ate, as we were having a set meal – I had a rather more eccentric cocktail with the meal. The “Apple-ation” – “Jack Daniel’s No.7, Jack Daniel’s Honey, Maraschino liqueur, honey, apple juice and orange bitters. Served smoked for a BBQ taste.” This taught me a number of things – 1) I’m unimpressed by drinks turning up in a smoking jar, ready for self assembly, 2) Jack Daniel’s honey is horrific 3) this cocktail shouldn’t be drunk by anyone. It really tasted *bad*.

Monkey finger rating

Bun –  4/5
Build – 4.5/5
Burger – 2.5/5
Taste –  3/5
Sides – 3.5/5 – boosted by squid, hit by fries
Value – 2/5 – £18  for the burger and fries! – plus the squid! Too much money.

Burger rating – 2.5/5 – for what sounded and looked like such a GREAT burger, I’m sadly not in a hurry to sample another All Star Lanes burger. Don’t get me wrong – I probably will, especially if I go as part of a smaller group – but it was disappointing to say the least.

The deets

There are All Star Lanes around London and in Manchester now too… this one was at 95 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL, or on 020 7426 9200 if you prefer that sort of thing. Definitely book for bowling.

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