Here’s the thing about bowling… I’m absolutely awful and not even the side rails can stop that blinkin’ ball from flying over and knocking pins on every other lane along the way, leaving all of mine intact. Coordination isn’t a trait I possess, so when I toddled along to PINS Social Club, I didn’t have high hopes for myself. Nor was I expecting great things from the edible selection. One of these things proved me completely wrong and I’ll give you a clue – it wasn’t my skills in the striking department.
PINS is a brand new boutique bowling alley located at the Liverpool ONE end of Duke Street. It’s way, way more than that, though, with two storeys of lanes, classic table games, sports screens, live entertainment, multiple kitchens and sprawling bars. At this point, you’re probably envisaging darts boards, pints in dirty glasses, football flags and bowling lanes plastered with kitsch, neon graffiti, but you too would be very wrong.
Upon entering PINS, there's a reception desk where you can book games and swap your shoes before flinging balls down friction-free lanes. Take a left and you’ll notice some bench seating and an open kitchen where you can grab a slice of Bacaro Pizza. Climb the stairs to the main area with swanky booths, contemporary feature lighting and a handful of retro bowling lanes with a distinct retro 1960’s vibe. After a couple of games on the lanes (with their new-fangled, high-tech scoring screens) fuelled by a few glasses of Sauvignon (£3.50 for 125ml), we plonked ourselves on a couch upstairs to tuck into the house mixed tray for two (£25).
The food at PINS is provided by Bacaro and Rocket & Ruby – two restaurants under the same ownership and coincidentally, two of my favourite places to eat in the city. So, I don’t really know why I was expecting nothing more than gristly burgers and greasy fries. The sharing-style platter is designed for two people but generously filled with enough to feed three or four if you’re just looking for a quick snack.
The well-endowed tray boasts everything from chilli-topped fries and nachos to sausage bites and signature ‘frickles’ (fried pickles). Highlights for us were the loaded nachos drowned in two types of cheese, warm doughballs dunked in garlic butter so pungent it’d make your eyes water and spicy fried chicken bites which were packed with flavour and smothered in sauce. All washed down just nicely with a Cotton Candy (£7.50) which topped a flute of fizz, cherry and amaretto with candy floss.
The DesignMyNight Digest
An epic addition to the city, PINS Social Club somehow strikes the perfect balance between nostalgia for the golden age of bowling and what the modern diner wants today. It’s cool, it’s casual and it’s an elevated example of how great food, classic games and standout mixology should come together.