By now you are likely at least somewhat familiar with The Alley on Columbus Street. Even though most people associate it with bowling, the business is probably best described as an entertainment venue. However, once you visit The Alley you'll see it is so much more than bowling.
The location has a fairly large space (especially for a downtown business) that combines classic elements of retro-bowling alleys to some modern conveniences and features. Besides the 8 bowling lanes, there is also a wall full of vintage arcade games, a full bar, restaurant space, outside seating, two large projection screens, TVs, and a mezzanine area.
All of those features are impressive in their own right, but The Alley's secret weapon is without a doubt the Home Team Kitchen (HTK). I was fortunate enough to attend a sampling of their summer menu and it was fantastic. HTK did an amazing job of putting a new spin on the delicious, tried-and-true methods of Home Team BBQ. Everything was fresh and cooked to perfection.
Here's a look at everything I sampled:
- Deviled Egg - Fairly standard, but good. A nice little snack to start the afternoon.
- Boiled Peanuts - This is a great bar snack. I normally dislike boiled peanuts, but these were FAR better than any side-of-the-road bag I've sampled. They were boiled in some kind of vinegar-based broth which gave them a little bit of spice and a whole lot of flavor. (Hint - You can try these tasty peanuts for FREE every Tuesday between 4 pm and 7 pm).
- Green Chili Nachos - The nachos were topped with braised pork, sharp cheddar and jack cheeses, chimichurri, crema and roasted roma tomatoes. A good appetizer. It didn't stand-out like some of the other dishes, but it was still solid.
- Red Rice Fritters - Tasty and unique. They looked like large hush puppies, but these were filled with red rice, bacon, and other deliciousness. Served with cilantro crema. I definitely recommend these.
- House Made Meatballs - Sizable portions and what you would expect a meatball to be. Nothing ground-breaking here, just a yummy and filling appetizer.
- Green Salad - Green cabbage, baby spinach, fennel, celery leaves, jalapenos, lemon vinaigrette, and cilantro. Light and freshing. The jalapenos gave it a nice boost. The chef recommended diners add some meat to the salad to elevate the dish. He was right on - if you are going to order this, definitely top it off with some pork belly.
- Spring Salad - I liked this option better than the green salad. A nice mix of fresh veggies and I especially enjoyed the edition of the pickled onions.
- Roasted Garlic Pizza - French Bread styled pizza. It was cook very well - soft in the middle with a crunchy crust.
- Braised Pork Belly Sandwich - This was by far my favorite dish and that's really saying something, because I liked it all. The sandwich was nothing short of perfect and I wasn't alone in that opinion. The beer-braised pork was amazing and the slaw and lemon zest mayo on top complimented it perfectly.