Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Week 1: Mahall's 20 Lanes


We begin with my wife's first surprise birthday party. After a couple weeks of preparation, including having 2 of my friends invite Kelly out bowling for her birthday, it was time for the big surprise. Our venue and first bar of this blog was Mahall's 20 Lanes. As we got out of the car Kelly says, “Is that S_'s car?...Are my friends here?” She slowly turned and started naming off a the owners of all the cars across the street. I denied it all, of course, as I watched weeks of prep go down the drain.

We went in to meet our friends St_ and B_ and Kelly carefully looked around trying to spy the party early. I lead the way down the stairs past our friends waiting to yell the destined surprise. Seconds later Kelly was in front them and it happened! They snuck off and hid. Minutes went by as our friends were now confused and stuck in in a room that Kelly had no reason to be in. A text later and some random distracting allowed for some very hesitant, then excited surprising.

Everyone working at Mahall's was very helpful, they gave us all the dishes and utensils for the pizza we ordered from Angelo's (kitchen is closed on Sunday evenings it seems) and Kelly's cake. We had control over the music from the speakers in the basement and got to wish Kelly a happy birthday through them as well. Last time I was here, this lead to a dj playing an entire Donna Summer's album An album that included Disney classics from Beauty and the Beast and the Lion King. Those were the high points, she also sung a remake of the worst song ever sung, Dumbledore's McArthur's Park (over 5 minutes of a cake being left out in the rain being compared to a breakup).
The beer selection is diverse with higher quality beers, including Sixpoint on tap, which was my favorite. But there weren't any of the regular corporate beers on tap.

The food (eaten the first time I visited the new Mahall's) is an amazing upgrade on normal bar snacks. In an area with easily a half dozen good Mexican restaurants I can honestly say that Mahall's spicy brisket taco, with it's pickled onions and jalapenos, is one of the best I've ever had. If you prefer something that hasn't walked around in the past but is still the best you've ever had, go with the elote (Mexican corn on the cob).

How has Mahall's upgraded under it's new ownership? Instead of new technology they went with what made the bowling alley great and how it could have been and is now, better. The alley's are 2 floors of restored wood in great shape. The walls are bare brick minus the mocking tv screens of your average bowling alley. Yes, this does mean that you have to be able to do the math yourself on the paper score sheets provided. The bar area is roomy with a tall ceiling aiming more at comfort than packing the room with chairs. This leaves a large pool room with bar and stage for weekend bands and a game room where you can pick up a vintage board game if you want to roll something square.
I would call this a hipster bar, except that it's neither snobby nor ironic. You can tell that the owners love this bar and everything about it. You can also tell that it's contagious. I've had a great time both times I've been here. The more primitive, hands-on features make it a more personal experience. A warning to hipsters, I know you like your layers and winter caps, but there's no air conditioning that I've felt. Dress for summer. That being said, I had a good enough time that it was never overshadowed by the lack of artificial cold.

Lastly, the pickled foods were found only in the tacos but there were no weird food jars. My search continues. 

I definitely, recommend Mahall's 20 Lanes as a destination of bowling, music, food and beer for those that love them or would like to.

Since this was written Mahall's now has air conditioning!

Unique: Vintage Bolwing, A good unique take on common foods, Live Music, Board Games, the Staff

13200 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, Ohio 44107
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