Good News/Bad News: Brooklyn Bowl

Williamsburg: After months of delays and an extended preview period, Williamsburg's upscale bowling alley/music club Brooklyn Bowl opened its lanes to the public on July 7th. The 20,000 square foot multi-million dollar project from Peter Shapiro (of the now defunct Wetlands) and partner Charley Ryan includes 16 lanes of high tech bowling, a stage for performing bands, a state of the art sound and video system, a DJ area, an expansive bar, an environmentally conscious design and food from Blue Ribbon. The full BR menu won't be available until Tuesday, but for now, eager bowlers have been able to sample a preview menu that includes fried chicken, pork ribs, oyster po'boys, and sloppy joes. After receiving extensive hype before opening, reviews during its first few weeks of operation have been mostly positive. A look at some early feedback:

The Good News: An early review via Yelp raves about the space: "this isn't ironic bowling (I'm talking to you, Gutter), this is like, nice bowling. Really, really nice bowling...The space is totally beautiful, with raw wood exposed beams, skylights, two large bar areas and well-placed fixtures seemingly salvaged from an old carnival. Instead of hard plastic benches, the members of your team await their turns on plush over-sized leather sofas and ottomans, drinking tasty beer and eating some very strange bar snacks, like bologna and cheese pretzels and hot pork rinds, which literally taste like deep-fried air." [Yelp]

The Ambivalent News: A less enthusiastic Yelper found the experience enjoyable, but overpriced: "We dropped some serious cash ($15 cover for the concert, $5 beers, $40/hour lanes, $4 shoes). There is no doubt that we all had a blast, but I just had the feeling like it wasn't exactly my scene. I hereby pledge my allegiance to the Gutter down the street, with its less intensity, more local crowd, and better beer selection. Along the lines of Brooklyn Brewery and Sea, Brooklyn Bowl will be another Manhattan-ite friendly Williamsburg spot, with rare appearances from locals except for good shows. But maybe that's what they're going for, after all." [Yelp]

The Bad News: A reader raves about the fried chicken, but rags on the service: "I went back to Brooklyn Bowl last night with my girlfriend to try the semi-expanded preview menu. I was craving Blue Ribbon fried chicken, & am happy to say it's just as good as at the other BR locations. The problem here is with the service, though...We sat at the bar, as directed by the host (Booths for larger parties), & our server/bartender seemed as if he had never worked in a restaurant before, let alone had any real food-service training... Just a totally awkward experience not expected in a BR establishment. I'll definitely go back for the food, especially when they expand to a full menu mid-August, but they definitely need to work on the service."

The Encouraging News: New York Times Blog The Moment worries that the soundtrack and menu may overshadow the bowling: "so many other things there were right: the soft-serve machine spurting out frozen margaritas; the studded leather Chesterfield couches; and a soundtrack mixing the Kills, the Beatles, the Who and bouncy techno. Blue Ribbon has put together an easy, cheesy menu that it appears to have hired pot-smoking consultants to imagineer: crisp jalapeno poppers stuffed with goat cheese and cheddar, creamy egg shooters and ethereal pork rinds sprinkled with so much queso fresco, red onions and cilantro that my neighbor at the bar remarked 'How do they manage to make pork rinds look healthy?'...With its mix of overstimulation and indulgence with a side of fried chicken, some might forget you can even bowl here." [The Moment]

The Amazing News: An enthusiastic Yelper loves the staff and the margaritas: "All I can say is this is the best bowling experience I've ever had. We made it for happy hour so the lane was only $30 per hour for our group. Which is a great deal cause this place was beautiful inside and the staff was the best. Besides the bowling the food was great too. Mmmm.. the best pork rinds and nothing beats margarita by the pitcher." [Yelp]

The Meh News: Per a tweet: "blue ribbon menu at brooklyn bowl = soso (the poppers were bland & deviled eggs were too goopy. but the salmon w/ rice n beans were tasty)." [Twitter]

The Mostly Good News: A reviewer from the Feedbag raves about the lanes, the sound system, and the fried chicken, but feels out of place: "The pure scale and ambition of Brooklyn Bowl is jaw-dropping; it's beautiful, a great place to impress out-of-towners and a fantastic place to bowl if you're actually serious about bowling. As a schlub who lives in the neighborhood, however, I feel more at home at the much more modest Gutter just a few blocks to the north." [Feedbag]

The Ecstatic News: A Yelp reviewer likes the space so much, he's considering it as a marriage venue: "How can you not like this place? We walked in just to look at it when it first opened and my architect friend said it was probably the nicest building he'd ever been in. It has overstuffed studded couches instead of plastic seats! We've been back and the staff has always been super nice. I kind of want to get married there." [Yelp]
—Leah Herman

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