North Greenwich may not be an obvious choice for a fun night out, but that could be about to change with the opening of US import Brooklyn Bowl at the O2 Arena. The New York venue opened in a Williamsburg warehouse in 2009 and has remained an award-winning hipster hotspot, with celebs turning up for surprise gigs and flocks of Brooklynites chowing down on their legendary fried chicken.
But how does the London version compare?
Although the venue essentially resides within a huge white tent, BB owner Peter Shapiro has gone to great lengths to painstakingly recreate the cool Brooklyn warehouse vibe in the former exhibition space by making it almost physically identical to the NY original. We’ve only got 12 lanes (the original has 14) but what we’re missing in bowling space, we make up for in a huge yellow quadruped (one of the legs supporting the dome structure) over the lanes, complete with massive disco ball. Location-wise, perhaps Dalston (or somewhere in Hackney) would have made more sense. Will the hip kids make the pilgrimage to the Dome? Only time will tell.
So why else should you head over to check out Brooklyn Bowl? Here are five more good reasons…
Those familiar with the New York dining scene may be aware of Blue Ribbon restaurants, but as this is the first time they have opened outside the US, this will be a whole new world to most. The founders studied at Cordon Bleu in Paris and have since opened a string of restaurants across the US. The menu here is the same as in Brooklyn, with classic American fare including sloppy joes, oyster po’ boys, cajun catfish and fried chicken. Try the food in the 140-seater restaurant or get it delivered straight to your lane.
You won’t go thirsty as there are three bars here where you can wet your whistle. The design of the largest one is based on a Coney Island shooting gallery and is an exact replica of the bar at Brooklyn Bowl in New York. However, instead of stocking Brooklyn Lager, they’ve kept it local and will be serving up Meantime beer alongside cocktails and whatever else you have a thirst for.
Don’t let the name fool you, this is as much a gig venue as it is a bowling alley – maybe even more so. The stage of the New York original has been graced by the likes of Kanye West, Elvis Costello, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, HAIM, The Gossip, Guns’N'Roses, Adele, Solange and Snoop Dogg. The owners are hoping to get the same calibre of acts performing in London and, with direct access from the O2 Arena’s backstage area, a few VIP bowling lanes and a great sound system, it ought to pull in the celebs. Maroon 5 already popped in after their set this week, but don’t let that put you off. They’ll have plenty of other gigs scheduled and for some O2 shows, they’ll be streaming live video and audio of what’s happening on the main stage. A good alternative if you can’t get in to see a sold-out show.
All that said, there’s still plenty of bowling fun to be had, too. There are 12 shiny lanes to strike yourself silly, overstuffed leather sofas to hang out on while you wait your turn, the lanes are hired by time instead of per game and there’s an excellent view of the stage from the lanes (so book in a good few hours if you’re planning on watching a band).
Once inside, you’ll quickly forget that you’re inside the Dome and be transported to carnivalesque Coney Island. The restaurant is lined with ‘knock-down punks’ (a cooler version of coconut shies), there are carnival freaks posters lining the brick- and wood-panelled walls and the cash point is a replica of the Zoltar Machine from the film ‘Big’. Sadly this one doesn’t tell your fortune, though.
Find out more about Brooklyn Bowl.