Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bowling is back big time and it's brought some good grub with it: King's Bowl Orlando review

Bowling is back. With the opening of Kings on International Drive in Orlando in May, the recent opening of similar Splitsville at Downtown Disney, the planned 10-lane alley at Universal's retro-themed Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and future plans to open lanes at the refurbished Fashion Square Mall, I'd say it's fair to declare bowling is back, and bigger than ever in Orlando.

I recently got a chance to check out King's Bowl, the retro-themed bowling mecca that's the first attraction to open at I-Drive Live on International Drive in Orlando. I ate, I drank, I bowled, I had a fantastic time.

This is not your local bowling alley. The place is gorgeous - the owners have spared no expense creating the ultimate bowling center. When I first stepped in the door I was blown away at how cool the place is with it's retro lounge/swingers look. It's throwback theme is carried throughout the enormous space, and it really does bring you back to the time when bowling was hip and fun for the whole family. And the food is way beyond nachos, pizza and hot dogs you're used to at your neighborhood lane. Well, maybe not the pizza.

When my guest and I visited on a hot June afternoon, we were the only diners in the entire restaurant area. There were a few groups bowling, and a couple of children's parties taking place. A few of the bowlers were snacking. There were a couple of folks sipping on beers in the cocktail lounge area, but no one in the restaurant. Very rarely do I have a restaurant all to my self. I felt like king.

We started with Buffalo Wontons ($8) and Southwestern Spring Rolls ($8). The wontons were fried to a nice crispness and filled with spicy buffalo chicken in a gooey sauce. The ranch dressing served for dipping was very creamy and helped to quench the heat. The spring rolls were just as crispy, but decidedly less spicy. There was a lot of attention to detail in the preparation and each roll was served on a beautiful green leaf of lettuce. I've never had something this pretty at a bowling alley.

While enjoying my hour of living the lounge lizard lifestyle, alone in a sea of tufted vinyl backed booths below dangling disco balls, I couldn't help be annoyed by music blaring overhead. Some Dean Martin, sure, Sinatra, of course. But, no, King's offered up karaoke versions of songs by Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Carly Rae Jepsen for my amusement -- interspersed with Alvin and the Chipmunks versions of the same songs. Of course the music wasn't meant for me, but for the teenaged bowling parties taking place. I still cringed.

According to the menu, Kings is famous for its rib eye steak tips, but I had also heard good things about the ribs. I decided to try both, ordering the Ribs and Steak Tips Combo ($19) with a side of cole slaw, fries and cornbread. Although I specified medium rare, the tips were nearly well done and a bit chewy for my taste. They did have a nice sear to them and in (rarer) spots a nice flavor. The ribs, however, were the kings of this plate. How else to describe great ribs but to say they fell right off the bone. They certainly did, and were very tender, and I enjoyed the complex, smoky taste of the meat. Obvious care and time was taken to ensure e these ribs worthy of a good smokehouse. I very much appreciated the work that went into the ribs.

Perhaps inspired by the youthful music, or just a simple mind, my bowling buddy ordered cheese pizza for his entre. The 4 Cheese Pizza ($11), made with "Kings homemade hand tossed dough" and pesto, seasoned tomatoes, Romano, Asiago, Mozzarella and Feta cheese arrived looking a little greasy and a little less cheesy than expected. I saw no visible signs of Feta nor Asiago cheese. There was definitely Mozzarella, and maybe some Romano cheese. After a piece or two, I asked if he would order the pizza again. "No" was his reply with a smirk. Like the music, the pizza is for kids.

For dessert, I ordered the Strawberry Shortcake Sundae. Our server said she would bring two spoons. Uh, she should have brought six spoons and four more people to the table. I've never seen a sundae this big - nor do I want to ever again. Never eat a giant bowl of ice cream and attempt to bowl afterward.

This is, of course, a food blog, but I should mention that I really enjoyed bowling at Kings. The lanes were well maintained, the equipment in perfect working order, the shoes new and fresh and the lane balls were top notch. I especially enjoyed the scoring system which displayed YouTube like clips of "fails" when you bowled a stinker. You can order the full food and drink menu right at your lane.

Some of the highlights of Kings:
  • 30,000 square feet of entertainment
  • Space for up to 800 guests
  • Two private bowling rooms
  • 22 ten-pin bowling lanes
  • Four billiards tables
  • Regulation shuffleboard table
  • Full bocce ball court
  • Two beer tab tables
  • 60+ flat screens
  • 25-foot sports ticker display
Kings is a great place just to come and hang on a weekend with friends, hold a birthday party or visit with a group from work for a fun team-building exercise. The environment is awesome, the bowling experience top-notch and the food excellent for an "entertainment complex." There's a whole afternoon of fun for the kiddies and a whole evening of entertainment for the 21-and-up crowd at night.

When I-Drive Live opens, this place is going to be packed. If you're a local, I say make a trip out to Kings now, while you have the place to yourself.

4 Pins out of 5

Note: I dined and bowled compliments of Kings.

Kings Bowl Orlando on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

How else to describe great ribs but to say they fell right off the bone.

Overdone by BBQ standards.

Leon Bailey said...

Looks like a nice establishment. Bowling and ribs is not a bad combination at all!