Bowling cuisine #3 – “Christmas version”

Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

We all know the key two scenes. The scenes that make ‘A Christmas Story’ the best Christmas movie ever.

I mean the fuzzy pink bunny pajamas for Ralphie were not the most unique gift, the bowling ball to Mr. Parker was, and of course, who could forget that the Parker family dined a Bo Lings place at the end of the movie.

Bo Ling’s was not the only place that served fine bowling alley cuisine. Move over Ralphie, Randy and especially you Scott Farkus and let’s review some of our finer tasting bowling alley treats.

Let me lead with a location that has become one of the favorites of my daughter Amanda and I along with what seems like a large group of folks in Bluffton, Ohio.

Derek Dukes and Brandon Falk have things happening at Southgate in more than simply the bowling side of things. The food at Southgate is amazing. I used to think that if I owned Southgate I would find a way to expand and add another 10 or so lanes. Now I would be tempted to use that same space to expand seating and allow for a smoker and a pizza oven or two. The food is so incredible that they would be the unmatched creative force in the restaurant world as they are in bowling.

The scary named garbage bowl – a collection of pork, cole slaw, fries etc is one of the stars of the house. It used to be that if you had the high series for the season your creation went on the menu. You can still get the nacho loaded Thomas Dalton version. That said the fish unwraps are amazing and not to be confused with fish tacos which are boring by comparison.

Derek and the Bean are also very civic minded. It seems like monthly they are doing something for somebody in their community. I am going to do my best as a new resident of that community to help pay them back … like starting with the left side of the menu …. Wings please – whoops have already had them and they were great.

A little closer to my old home is 20th Century Lanes. For those that have missed it in the past and I cannot imagine that there is a better food item and also quite cost effective than their calzones. Many have now tried it and to this moment there is not anybody that has called my praise crazy. Name two, maybe three of your favorite pizza ingredients and place your order, wait a few minutes and then enjoy.

Rumor has it that 20th is rapidly climbing the charts of having the best pizza in town. I had the occasion to be standing by the exit following a high school matches and saw a couple leaving the building with two large pizza boxes. I asked them if it was there first trip to the lanes and how they had bowled. They said today they were just back to get some pizza to go – that they used to go elsewhere but now 20th was their cross-town stop for pizza.

The fact that a couple would go across the town for pizza is pretty cool but I guess not that uncommon. Bowling alley cuisine is just that good.

I always enjoyed the drive to Wapak’s Astro Lanes for the Bill Davis Bologna sandwich. I mean could anything be better than a good old bologna sandwich with coleslaw on it? Of course not!

But then the menu changed and so did the grease in the fryers. I love the trip to Astro Lanes even more now. The Friday night all you can eat fish deal is phenomenal and the rest of the menu is perhaps even more impressive. Pizza which is a staple at most bowling alleys is top shelf in Wapak. The wings and chicken chunks and even salads are extremely good as well – make mine with thai chilli sauce please.

Astro has its specialty items as well – moon rocks and when Becca is on her game prepare your sweet tooth for her brownies.

When you enter the main door at Westgate Lanes here in town you cannot help but notice the full service restaurant on your right hand side. Andy Johnston has told me in the past that this is his busiest time of the year as people come back to again have – you guessed it, their pizza. The pizza is good but the menu is another example of the creativity of some of our bowling proprietors.

The Johnston family continually works to feature that unique item that the bowlers and the community will love. The food must be good as the athletic directors of the WBL have been known to eat and meet there.

As we continue our tour, I have to honestly say that one of my favorite stops on my food trip is Delphos Bowling and Recreation. They do not have the knockout pizza of other locations but they have something special that the other houses do not have. You can actually sit at the counter and watch your food being prepared. In that respect that are like an upscale Waffle House or hibachi.

I have eaten there a lot during the pro events of the last and can honestly say that I have never been disappointed. In fact I am not sure that their burgers are not my favorites of all bowling venues … and again you get to watch it being prepared.

The list is long but I really quickly want to say if I could have one last sandwich – please let it be the pizza steak – Randy or Joe style at Highland Lanes in Ottawa – you will not be disappointed.

In fact get out to any of the places and grab some stocking stuffing gift certificates – your friends and family will love you for it.

Above Merry Christmas … be blessed and a blessing to others.

Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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