It's been a fast-paced couple of months since Dog Bowl, Manchester's latest bowling sensation and sister venue to Black Dog Ballroom, opened its doors. After its successful launch night in March, the popular Oxford Road bar has started to take a life of its own. I was invited down to once again tackle my arch-nemesis: the bowling alley. Would this time be any more successful? Find out...
As you stroll towards the glitzy, fluorescent welcoming sign there is a sense of sophistication that the bowling world has never quite experienced before. Long gone are the days of picking sweets off your shoes or racing through cheap arcade games with their excruciating noises. No, this is exactly how bowling should feel. The doors open into an animated lounge space - stylish and modern with a sense of lightheartedness that encaptures the bar. Perched up top are five immaculate bowling alleys surrounded by a host of extremely welcoming staff. The greatest achievement that the venue offers is the chance for adults to feel carefree and silly without losing their cool - of course.
The Clientele & Atmosphere
An unusual location provides, as you can imagine, a diverse range of customers. Planted in the heart of Whitworth Street, the bar seems to attract a good mix of professionals, students and even families - all without losing its edge. I was treated to observe two professional bowlers from England's official team who had stopped by for the evening. I managed to squeeze some much-needed guidance from the team but true to form it still wasn't enough to cure my unexplainable awfulness. The novelty of watching the balls come back up through a dog's bum is enough to keep me in high spirits! Even though both the alley and restaurant are bound together, the aesthetics and mood are complemented perfectly.
The Food & Drink
As I previewed a sampler of the menu on my last visit, I was eager to delve deeper into the restaurant's take on American classics with their own unique twists on this occasion. After our game our waitress very kindly escorted us to our seats, where we were tipped on food favourites which include the delicious Quesadillas (Toasted 10” flour tortillas oozing with Chihuahua, Manchego cheese and Monterey Jack) alongside the chef's classic take on Pork Scratchings with a spicy apple sauce to accompany.
Keeping up with Manchester's current sweeping burger craze, the restaurant delivers a fantastic range of delicious essentials. I was advised to take up The Deep South - an incredible 170g beef patty with smoked bacon, dill pickle, jack cheese, slaw & mouth-watering Alabama white BBQ sauce. I've had my fair share of burgers that Manchester has to offer but this was truly one of the nicest. It may not be revolutionary, but what Dog Bowl does deliver is well-cooked, delicious grub.
We sampled a range of the chain's famous cocktail concoctions. Customer favourite Maple Bourbon Smash was incredible - Dark maple syrup, fresh orange juice, lemon juice, Angostura bitters, an orange wheel, Bourbon and soda. My personal favourite was the Tijuana Sling, a brilliant combination of El Jimador, Cassis, Angostura bitters, lime, ginger ale. These bartenders knows their cocktails!
With excellent attention from all the staff and a particular focus on service, Dog Bowl creates a warming atmosphere. Sure it's sometimes loud due to large groups but it doesn't deteriorate from the delicious food and drinks. We would highly recommend stopping by mid-week to avoid large queues if it's the bowling you want to experience. You can book through DesignMyNight for any of the Black Dog chains to don't hesitate to head down. Dog Bowl are on to a real winner - long may Manchester bowling continue.