Thursday, June 28, 2012

M is for: Mission Bowling Club {Restaurant Review}

First of all, I really need you in the right "frame" of mind for this post. (Hehe...See what I did there?) So, before you continue reading, please watch this hilarious video by clicking here.

Don't worry, I'll wait.

Funny/ridiculous, right?!?

Now that you've been thoroughly entertained and reminded that bowling can indeed be a thrilling and exciting group activity, let me tell you about a great new place to knock down pins in San Francisco.

Mission Bowling Club is much more than a spot where you can wear smelly used shoes and drink a beer. Yes, there is bowling. But there is also some fantastic food. I would go there for the burger even if I *wasn't* bowling. It's that good.

But before we get to the food, let's talk about the decor. I love the lofty, warehouse feel of the space. I love how they subtly incorporated bowling pins into everything from the table pegs to the menu configuration to the light fixtures. But I also love the local art that adorns the walls, the thoughtful drink menu, and outdoor space in the front. Basically, it marries local San Francisco hipster flare with traditional bowling alley in perfect matrimony.

But onto my favorite part: the food. Most bowling alley fare I've ever been subjected to usually involves something like microwaved frozen mozzarella sticks or nachos drenched in processed cheese. You will find nothing of the sort at Mission Bowling Club. The menu features bar food by name only. Yes, there are corn dogs and burgers and fried chicken. But it's probably the best burger and corn dog and fried chicken you will ever eat. The reason? Anthony Mynt (of Mission Chinese Food and Commonwealth fame) is the brainchild behind this fine establishment.

For starters, the fried chicken is battered in a mixture that includes chicken skin.Yes, you read that right. It's chicken. Fried. In chicken skin. It's also artfully served on a skewer that hovers over a blob of ranch dip, making it almost too pretty to eat. For those looking for something lighter, there's a 7 bean salad with fried chickpeas, that is equally as yummy. Home fries with dipping sauce will only run you five bucks. And the corn dogs? These aren't your run-of-the-mill weiners on a stick. The sausage balances sweet and spicy and is wrapped in a crunchy breading that is infused with sour cream. Like the chicken, they are served on a stick, perched and waiting to dive into the pool of spicy habanero crema waiting below (2 to an order, so we got 2).

OK, Let's talk burgers. Everyone at the table was drooling over the Mission burger. But in order to give you a more complete review, I sacrificed my order and got the Vegan Burger (thanks to Amanda for sharing her regular burger with me). The Mission Burger is undoubtedly the star of the entrees, but the Vegan version is hot on its heels with best supporting actor. It's a blend of chickpeas, kale and shiitake fried to a crisp and topped with guacamole, fennel slaw and sambal (a spicy chili sauce). It's served on thick sliced foccacia bread and I'm not BS'ing you when I say it was freaking delicious. The Montana girl in me loves red meat, but the California part of me really appreciates a good veggie burger.

However, if you do eat meat, you should not skip the Mission Burger. I'm sure there are other yummy things in the entree section, but you will just spend the entire night with food envy if you don't get this burger. If you are familiar with Mynt's other restaurant and street food ventures in the city, you've no doubt heard about this magical patty of meat. But in case you haven't, let me just say it's without a doubt one of the top 3 burgers in the city, if not THE best. Mynt's version is made with a 1/2 pound mixture of granulated brisket, short rib and chuck from Harris Ranch. It's seared in beef fat and topped with caramelized onions, jack cheese and caper aioli. It's buttery, it's juicy, it's everything you would dream a cheeseburger should be. (Side note: those are potato chips cut like fries...not actual fries, which is sort of a disappointment, but the burger more than makes up for it).

Quick behind-the-scenes of E is for Eat pic. You know how I'm always talking about my ridiculous iPhone "lighting" when I'm at restaurants? Well, here you can see it in action. This particular night, we had not one, but TWO iPhone flashlights going. Thanks to Colvin and Brodie for serving as the "lighting experts" and to Amanda for capturing the entire scene with her own iPhone.

The four of us shared the cinnamon crunchy toast for dessert, which is basically like a piece of crispy french toast served with vanilla ice cream on top. It was the proverbial cherry on top to a fabulous evening of bowling and food. Yes, it's a little pricey as you pay per hour and the prices increase as it gets later. (We paid $45 for one lane from 7:00-8:00, plus $4 each for shoe rental.) We were able to *almost* get in two full games, and I'm happy to report I bowled a career-best 143. ("Who do you think you are!?!? I AM). So if you're in search of the perfect double date spot, or just a great place to kick back and enjoy a fun evening of friends and food, take your bowling skills to Mission Bowling Club.

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