photo: Courtesy of Lucky Strike Lanes
The Chicago branch of the bowling-alley-to-the-stars provides a great place to gather after an afternoon film (families are welcome before 9 p.m.) or to begin an evening of intoxicated strikes and spares (the joint becomes 21-plus at night). This Lucky Strike Lanes is the biggest one yet: Behold a 36,000-square-foot venue that can hold up to 800 would-be bowling champs.
The place boasts 18 lanes with leather couches for players to lounge on between turns. At the end of each lane, high-resolution video screens project a show of emerging artists' work, music videos and film clips.
When competitive zeal gives way to burger cravings, cast your stereotypical notions of bowling cuisine aside. Executive chef Eric Possa presents a menu of small-plate gourmet fare; think tuna lollipops, a tapenade burger topped with chevre and sweet pom-frites (sponge cake cut to resemble French fries).
The three full-service bars feature $8 specialty cocktails like the Lucky Strike (a mix of Absolut Mandarin, blue curacao and peach schnapps) and the Dude's White Russian (Absolut Vanilla, coffee liqueur and milk). A wine bar opposite the bowling lanes turns up the sophistication factor; settle in next to one of the bar's five fireplaces to relax after an intense strike. On Sundays during football season, take advantage of the $7 bloody mary bar, whose 45 ingredients range from pepper jack cheese to pickled asparagus.
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg