U.S. in E1
I ATE SO much meat that I think I harmed myself. The venue for this chicken, pork, beef and lamb feast: All-Star Lanes’ ‘Luncheonette’, which ironically only serves midday meals at weekends. Their latest boutique bowling alley occupies part of the increasingly interesting Old Truman Brewery off Brick lane. Whilst bouncers prowl the entrance, inside it feels fun and filmic. A wedge of 1950’s America inserted in the East End. My French friend and I sat on scarlet leather (which sounds unintentionally pornographic) watching overflowing pitchers and decadent Sundaes fly by…
Despite the building’s background, we resisted revolting-sounding ‘Largeritas’ in favour of Bison Juleps, sipped straight from shakers. From A3 menus (everything’s bigger here) I chose a cold salad of pulled pork, purely because pulling a pig seemed a tempting frolic. I used fried bread discs to spatula the richly sauced, torn meat. My friend’s hot smoked BBQ chicken wings were cool in spice and offered with an irrelevant blue cheese dip. Flesh fell from the spongy bones - a sign of a bird rushed to maturity. Being hands-on food, in addition to tablecloth-sized napkins we were given finger bowls. I convinced my friend that these were soups.
A birthday chorus erupted from the back of the diner followed by our neighbours, who also had cause for celebration. Almost contagiously, yet another more masculine party outsung the others.
From a list long in Californian bottles, we chose Loredana, a cherry bright Pinot Noir mingled with a menagerie of unconventional varieties. Not the obvious choice, although it had enough kick to cut through man-sized mains.
Whilst it is a cliché to call a cut ‘Flintstones’-sized, the whopping chop cast on Fred’s car in closing credits was dauntingly similar to the dry aged lamb which landed by my friend. Despite being amongst the cheapest mains, I needed a wide-angle lens to accommodate this gristly beast, fresh ‘from the smoker’. A thrifty chef could have excavated a dozen portions. Regardless of attention from fellow diners’ camera-phones, he did well, although typical of his nationality, he discarded the mint sauce.
By comparison, my 28-day dry aged New York Strip loin (a.k.a. Porterhouse) looked like a tug to the QE2. Swimming in lime-spiked Beurre Maître’d and scattered with salt, the moist, serviceable steak was helped by a twist of pepper from a grinder shaped like Marilyn Monroe.
I had pudding out of research rather than desire. Again enormous, the banana praline split with hazelnut ice cream looked wildly hedonistic but tasted thick - an exhausting challenge. A macchiato dot was the meals’ only concession to European scale.
I could hardly move afterwards, let alone bowl, although somehow we managed. We teased a Polish friend who joined us later by naming her ‘Eastern Bloc’ on the scoreboard. After a chat with management, she got us back. Inflatable sausages automatically flooded the troughs every time it was her turn. And she was triumphant.
By the end of the evening, I knew what Elvis felt like nearing death. I put my hands together and prayed for a smooth Cadillac to take me home…
‘All Star Lanes’ - 91 Brick Lane. E1 6QL. T.020 7426 9200
Nearest Tube: Aldgate East