North Greenwich may seem a bit far out (well it is…) but the O2 arena is always worth the trek, right? Especially for a bowling alley-come-bar-come-restaurant-come-event space, all under one huge domed roof - I mean you've really gotta see Brooklyn Bowl for yourself, folks.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but this coolest of the cool interiors was not what I had pictured. With a large dance floor taking up most of the room, and some spaced out bowling lanes tucked in between the huge O2 pillar structures in the back corner, this super suave modern space was a welcome surprise. Plush leather sofa seats on each lane and a few minutes later, I was sprawled in comfy bliss, a beer in one hand and a chicken wing in the other. I quickly realised that this place was only posing as a bowling destination – it was actually a speakeasy bar. Or maybe a gig space. Let’s just say I was confused, and my concentration was completely taken over by the determination not to knock the whole building down by bowling straight into the pillars that held the whole place up.
I doubt you’ve seen a place like this before – I certainly hadn’t. On first entry, I didn’t feel as if I was about to embark on a bowling tournament with a stupid nickname and clown shoes on my feet. I felt as if I’d just entered a VIP area, with huge spaces, shiny laminate flooring, and the stage proudly displayed to a huge floor. It was like stepping off the tube and wondering through the Narnian wardrobe into New York, with its trendy industrial bar stools, caged light bulbs and bare brickwork, styles harking back to those Brooklyn bars across the Atlantic. It was immediately a fun and trendy place to be and, when Sheila E, drummer from Prince, hit the stage, full of energy and singing into coke bottles, the place lit up (one white-turtle-necked gent was even close to tears) and I realised what kind of party this place was capable of. Shrink your gigs into an intimate arena, cool it with caj bowling alleys alongside (because maybe we wanna party, maybe we wanna bowl – we don’t conform to one activity) and make it extra intimate with standing room at the side of the stage for a bit of back stage exclusivity. It’s an exciting equation that only the O2 could manage to straddle.
Food and Drink
This NY inspired venue is a huge bite of that Big Apple (even if the image conjured is misleadingly healthy…) With a decent smattering of various takes on the chicken wing across this menu of grilled goodies, there’s also sandwiches as big as your head, burgers the size of pizzas (okay, slight exaggeration…) and pulled pork as sticky as a Gregg’s pastry counter. We mistakenly ordered a sharing platter along with some sides and were shocked to receive a plate almost as big as the table. The pulled pork was delicious, although with a wedge of toast alongside the mash, even on its own it was too much. But hey, that’s authentic American dishes for you, and excepting a bizarre peanut butter and banana sandwich that fell a bit flat with us, the greasy goodness is almost worth the indigestion.
All in all, this place is a strange and wonderful tribute to Brooklyn breeziness. Brooklyn Bowl is the place to loll on a sofa like the cool cat you are (we’re too cool to bowl upright) or to party like an animal at a close up and personal gig – basically, do whatever the hell you want and do it with style in this mishmash of all things Brooklyn.