The Bowling House, Norwich – Review!
It came up on my time hop this week that this time last year Jonny and I were off for a curry in order to try and GET THE BABY OUT! That’s the last evening we went out together sans children (outside the womb) – unless you can count a friend’s 40th where we turned up, ordered a drink and then immediately returned home when the Grandparents rang in a baby SOS – Raffie does NOT like to be left!
Thankfully my Mum was prepared to give it another go though and so last Saturday we grabbed the bull by the horns and went for it. Bowling. Lovely. I LOVE bowling! Supper AND some G&Ts… Just what the Doctor ordered!
We headed to The Bowling House, Norwich which is on Dereham Road (at the bottom of Grapes Hill) and we had no intentions of going anywhere else (old and lazy) so it was a good job that from the moment we stepped inside we were impressed! It reminded me of the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho which has a bijou bowling alley in the basement set alongside neon signs and all things kitsch. At the Ham Yard Hotel it is VERY expensive to bowl (I have only ever been for private press functions – my purse does NOT stretch) but at Norwich’s Bowling House it’s all very reasonable for an extremely similar setting – albeit one at the bottom of Grapes Hill rather than in central London. What that also means of course is Norwich prices for drinks too! GET IN! It’s £7.80 to bowl at peak times for an adult (per game) and we were drinking a double G&T and a pint with each round which came to just over £9! I was at The Box for a private Tove Lo gig last week and had a look at their price list (open bar for the event thank the lord) and believe you me, I don’t think the barman would even breathe near me for £9 in there!
I’ve banged on about the alcohol too much haven’t I?! but the thing is, I don’t usually get the chance and this bowling house really is a grown up playground so to have not taken advantage would have been silly. Of course we bowled too! Two games, which was just about the right amount for two people. You’d need two or the time would go too quickly and after losing by one point I needed a second game to redeem myself! Alas the alcohol had well and truly kicked in by game two and I lost spectacularly but I’m taking my one point loss in the beginning as a win anyway… Why not?! At least I didn’t bugger over as I bowled like someone on the lane next to us on a football team night out (It’s ok, we knew them, normal for Norwich!) and through their raucous inebriated behaviour a fall was inevitable… It was all laughs to begin with but then there was QUITE a lot of blood – I had to look away! The poor chap then had his chin stuck back together (I’m no nurse but even I, in my fuzzy alcohol induced state, could see that it really needed stitches) with a tube of superglue courtesy of his football manager, a friend of Jonny’s – honestly men are a strange breed aren’t they!
Anyway… Dramatics over and it was time to eat – I was in need of food by this point and had assumed, what with it being a bowling alley, that the food wouldn’t be up to much cop. Ok, probably… But nothing to write home about! Only I AM writing… And it wasn’t just good but very, very good! Burgers; one beef, one southern fried chicken (mine and amazing) and two sides of stuffed leaves (I’d assumed vine but turned out to be lettuce and extremely delicious) with the BEST (absolutely the very, very, very best I’ve ever had) onion rings in the world! I’ve mouthwateringly day dreamed about those onion rings all week!
We finished the evening with a couple more drinks sat at the top in the very instagrammable surroundings – If only I’d been a little less inebriated I’d have realised a filter was set on my camera and that’s why every picture was coming out a funny colour – oh well… You will have to let my descriptions feed your beauty visions and take my words for it! Decadent, boutique bowling with old-fashioned cinema seating, neon signs, beautiful lighting (not that I grabbed that with my camera – silly drunken monkey that I was) and a blooming good night! They also have lots of board games up in this gallery area which gave Jonny another chance to beat me at connect 4. I seriously don’t know how I always lose?! I must have some kind of brain block when it comes to patterns I think! The atmosphere was great and I enjoyed the fact it wasn’t that busy but I suspect the owner (who I’m sure thinks I have a serious problem after I asked him to take our pictures as we fake laughed for the lens – don’t judge me, it’s impossible to catch real live laughing moments of YOURSELF) would prefer a little more footfall.
On the face of it I suspect you’re thinking that the bottom of Dereham Road is fecking miles away and wondering if it’s really worth the hike?!
In answer it’s not actually far away from the city centre at all – literally JUST across the road and you’re on St Benedicts where there’s lots of amazing bars and restaurants up the other end in just a 5 minute walk. Yes, it is worth the 5 minutes… Totally!
You should go. You should go for a grown up night (love that kids are allowed in the day time too though) and you should go soon. Norwich is becoming more and more independent and interesting again and I love that it is so well done to The Bowling House for being a part of the new! Years ago we had fab little haunts like Boswells for live bands and then big chains took over making Norwich sh-i-t-e! I can’t imagine anything worse that dancing up Liquid or dining in another Luminar Leisure facility – riverside is my idea of shudders and I boycott it and all its activities wherever possible – of course you do get the odd twonk who decides to have their birthday meal at blooming Frankie and Bleurghhhs with a game of soulless bowling afterwards and occasionally you do have to accept these ‘kind’ invitations but I wholeheartedly encourage you all to instead book something with class for your celebrations. Book something for grown ups. Choose independent businesses with real people owners, you know why? Because for one you’re supporting small and local and for two the real people owners care! They want you to come back. They don’t have computers that say no and they listen to their customers. That’s enough folks, that’s more than enough. But there’s more you see, there’s a lot more!
Our trip to The Bowling House was a GREAT couples date. Would be a great mate date too! And Florence wants to have her birthday there after hearing us wax lyrical about how amazing it is (£12 per child for bowling AND food – love it) and you know what, I think I want to have my birthday there too! I welcome anyone who wants to bring a small slice of something different to my fine city – I’m so bored and over the chain gangs of crapiola! This is what suits Norwich and this is a little Norwich secret we need to tell our friends about because we absolutely want it to stay!