REVIEW: Lane7, St. James’ Boulevard, Newcastle.

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THINK you know bowling alleys? Think again.

Forget Formica tables, cheap burgers and garish amusement arcades blaring in the background, Lane7 has elevated the traditional UK-take on ten pin bowling into an upmarket experience.

Boutique bowling at Lane7, Newcastle.

Boutique bowling at Lane7, Newcastle.

Dubbed Boutique Bowling, Lane7 is a striking addition to eating and drinking establishments in Newcastle.

Set over two expansive floors, Lane 7 certainly looks the part with trendy exposed brickwork, walnut finish bowling lanes and low lights abound.

From the outside it looks like an old-fashioned cinema and that fusion of 50s style with the contemporary can be found throughout.

While it looks very different, some things remain the same. You still hand your shoes in at reception and slip on the bowling shoes (thankfully not those tasteless red and white clown boots); your scores appear on TV screens above the alleys; and the satisfying clatter of ten pins still reverberates around the building.

But there’s a lot more to Lane7 than just the bowling.

Upstairs there are full size pool and table tennis tables, and even karaoke booths should the urge take you.

Lined up alongside the bowling alleys (strangely, given the name, there are eight lanes!) is the restaurant, which is worth a trip alone.

You don’t have to be playing ten pin to book into the restaurant which has a menu offering top quality food. With 75 covers, there’s plenty of room for diners and it’s no cheap burger joint.

There’s a distinct American flavour to the dishes. The house smoked baby back ribs (smoked, we’re told in Lane7’s own smokery) were a dream, served with fries and a ranch coleslaw. I opted for a giant pulled pork bun with green chilli slaw, house pickles and a ranch dressing (£9.50). It was more than enough for one.

There were a selection of side orders that were different from the norm, including creamed corn with bacon, charred hispi cabbage and pulled pork with butterbeans to keep the foodies happy.

The kids are kept happy with the desserts, which included bubble gum and berry Knickerbocker glory and a gargantuan Mississippi mud pie.

If you’re making a night of it, Lane7 has a vast bar area on the lower level which, naturally, tips its hat towards the US with beers such as Coors light, Brooklyn and Denver’s Blue Moon.

While Lane7 is clearly geared to a more grown-up audience (no under-18s are allowed after 7pm), this half-term they will be looking after the children. The place will be open from 11am every day with bumpers on the gutters and those so called ‘ball slope’ contraptions you drag out to roll your bowling ball down without putting your back out.

If you’re looking for a night out that’s a bit different, good fun and without skimping on quality, Lane7 fits the bill.

Bowling prices: Peak £7.50, off peak £6, students £4.50, kids £4.50.

For more information check out the website: www.Lane7.co.uk

Richard Ord