A little slice of Americana in the middle of London's East End
Where? Luncheonette, All Star Lanes, 95 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL (www.allstarlanes.co.uk)
Isn't All Star Lanes a bowling alley? It most certainly is, but with some of the best cocktails in London, definitely the best burgers we've tried in the capital and plenty of other all-American favourites, you can skip the bowling lanes and still have a fabulous time.
Cocktails and burgers! Not a destination for those on a diet, then? Definitely not. True, there are a few healthier options on the menu – poached haddock (£11) at lunch, for instance, or baked sea scallops (£15.50) in the evening – but they rather miss the point. Instead, skip breakfast on the morning of your visit and enjoy a full-on USA-style blow-out when you arrive, it's worth the extra calories.
Which waist-expanders do you recommend? Our Fresh Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese (£5.50) was the perfect winter warmer on a cold February morning, while the Seafood Jambalaya Risotto Cake with Sauce Americane (£7.50) wouldn't look out of place on the menu of a silver-service restaurant in Mayfair. For mains, there's a delicious Jerk Spiced Cod and Succotash (£14) and hearty Texas Chilli Con Carne (£10.50), but nearly everyone in the diner plumps for the 8oz All Star Lanes Burger (£8.50). Why? Well, it's just really, really good. No mystery ingredients, just good, old-fashioned beef, cooked to perfection and then cheese and bacon on top if you want it. Mind you, if you follow our advice and skip the cod for the burger, make sure you order a side of Succotash anyway. A tasty mix of peas, sweet corn, broad beans and bacon, it's the insider's alternative to salad or coleslaw.
And to wash it all down? All Star Lanes has won awards for its cocktail menu, and with good reason, along with perfectly executed classics (Old Fashioneds, Martinis, Mint Juleps and more), there are some unusual recipes - a Largarita, anyone? - that should give even the most jaded of drinkers something new to try.
Any room for pud? Absolutely not, but we tried anyway. Ice cream sundaes (£6.50) and the Banana Praline Split (£6) are big enough to share, although you really won't want to. If you're in the mood for something a little more grown-up, the Lemon Posset, Raspberry Jello and Ginger Tuille (£6) sells out quickly at the weekends, so get your order in early, while the Cherry Pie with Clotted Cream (£5.50) provides the perfect all-American finale to an all-American feast.
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