Alternative eatery bowls 'em over with good taste

A bowling alley is not the first place you'd associate with food. Intermittent wafts of deodorizing foot spray? Yes. Discordant clanging and the likelihood of chipping your manicure? Yes. But as a viable suggestion for a refreshing repast, bowling alleys probably rate a notch above gas stations.

Sure, nachos or chicken fingers are fine between frames, but I wondered if the food at Pickwick Bowl in Burbank or Glendale's Jewel City Bowl could stand up to a sit-down meal.

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Pickwick Bowl

Tucked inside the arcade area, Pickwick's snack bar featured an array of pub fare, such as burgers and pizza, as well as a surprising variety of panini. Perhaps a little too surprising for the fry cook, who apologized for not having mozzarella on hand, and offered me provolone. I didn't mind; I was eating at a bowling alley.

The panino, which I had to fetch from the service window, sported fresh basil, balsamic vinaigrette, olive oil and tomatoes on grilled ciabatta bread. Served on a paper plate and accompanied by plastic utensils, the $6 sandwich was quite palatable.

The same cannot be said for the dreary ambience. As the only person who ordered food — but not a lane — I felt as conspicuous as an airline passenger without luggage. So I gobbled my meal faster than good digestive health dictates.

Jewel City Bowl

It's as if someone put a bowling alley inside a restaurant. In addition to a full bar, Jewel City Bowl & Grill offers Baja tacos, burritos and quesadillas, as well as an assortment of sandwiches and a host of panini. There are also the bowling alley staples of hot dogs and hamburgers.

I ordered the $10 balsamic chicken panino, which came with shoestring French fries and arrived on actual china. The presentation prompted me to lay the cloth napkin on my lap — something I'd never done in a bowling alley. The balsamic-marinated chicken breast was tender and juicy and served on grilled sourdough with a basil pesto and citrus mayonnaise.

The cashier doubled as a waiter and tended bar. Despite a noontime rush, he refilled my water every time it dropped below the ice. I started to feel bad and assured him I would walk the glass to him, but he smiled and hurried over with a pitcher.

In the background, a handful of businessmen in dress shirts and ties bowled a few frames on their lunch hour. Other patrons lounged about the bar with their laptops, taking advantage of Jewel City's free Wi-Fi.

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The Decision

Jewel City Bowl by a knockout. The quality and freshness of food, plus the congenial and overly efficient service, made the Glendale dining experience a strike.


?DONNA HUFFAKER EVANS' culinary experiences range from hole-in-the-wall hamburger stands to cafes in Krakow. She can be reached at dhuffaker@sbcglobal.net.

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