The Lanes Bowl & Bistro

News and Awards

Mashpee Bowling Alley As Bar and Bistro

By HEATHER WYSOCKI
hwysocki@capecodonline.com
January 31, 2013

I am a terrible bowler. Really, really terrible. At one point after high school, despite weekly trips with friends to a bowling alley in Falmouth, I still could not bowl over 105.

That terrible. Meaning the idea of spending an evening bowling isn't exactly scintillating.

But I love a good bar, and am a rather big fan of the cult flick "The Big Lebowski," which features a few wacky bowlers, so I figured I'd give the brand­new The Lanes Bowl & Bistro in Mashpee Commons a try despite its pin persuasion.

Consider me bowled over.

While a few Cape bowling alleys serve beer and others serve no alcohol at all, Lanes offers choices — in the form of New England­brewed beers, a pretty snazzy wine list (with a few organic bottles on there) and a sweet cocktail list.

Even at many Cape bars, such a succinct but successful drinks list is hard to come by.

And this isn't the type of place, as portrayed in many a movie about the Midwest, where the same ornery guy who cleans the bowling shoes reaches into a decrepit chest freezer to hand over a few Rolling Rocks with their caps still on.

Oh, no — Lanes is more a bar that happens to have a nice­looking bowling alley in it. And musical entertainment on weekend nights.

The restaurant space is sleek, with a gray­and­red color palette that really ups the ante on sophistication. Quirky decorations in the restaurant area — such as a collage on the wall made of film reels, and the barstools and chairs made of recycled seat belts — elevate the area above sports bar, though there are quite a few flat­screen TVs too.

(An aside: The people who own the cozy, dark­wood­and­whiskey­centric Bobby Byrne's chain of pubs also run Lanes, but they're two totally different animals.)

The restaurant area is attached to but separate from the bowling area — so if you really want to avoid all the pin action, it's pretty easy to do.

My companion and I had plans to grab dinner and drinks there, then eventually, somewhat grudgingly mosey over to the namesake lanes.

Let's start with the drinks list. I ordered the Honey Badger Martini which, aside from having the best name this side of some daiquiri named after Charlie the Unicorn (which doesn't exist but should), was a delicious mix of spicy gin, local honey and lemon. Like a super­sophisticated, refreshing Hot Toddy.

Other drinks were similar combos of fresh juices and liquors from smaller distilleries. Not surprisingly, they're on the pricier side — $9 to $11 — but for what they're pouring, I consider it pretty reasonable.

Onto the food: I'll admit that I kind of love those radioactively colored cheese­sauce nachos that some other bowling alleys have. But Lanes isn't that kind of place, so expect more.

Our fried pickles(!) and pizza were fantastic — and the pie rivaled the two other wood­fired places I've tried in Mashpee.

And items on the menu include pretzel­roll sliders and a bunch more fried appetizers, like lobster risotto balls and sweet chili shrimp.

About now you're probably noticing that I haven't mentioned the, ahem, bowling part of The Lanes Bowl &Bistro.

Confession time: We didn't actually bowl at the place dedicated to bowling. By the time we'd finished our meal, all the while listening to those pins click and clack (but not too loudly) over a soundtrack that sounded like my iPod circa 2006 (think Interpol, Feist, Bloc Party), all the lanes were full of people who looked like they were sticking around awhile.

Here, a word to the wise: The 10 lanes were full and it was only a Tuesday (in January). Our bartender told us that Friday and Saturday nights since the opening a couple of weeks ago have had a two­hour wait for the bowling lanes, so off­hours are probably the best times to go.

The 10 lanes were full of groups of grown­ups (not screaming, birthday cake­fueled children) having a fun, but not too rowdy, time.

And I was actually disappointed that I missed the bowling. We will definitely be back to take a spin at the lanes (where you can order and consume your beverages, no sneering guy with a Minnesota accent required).

Across the country in large cities, these types of pub/alley combinations have cropped up promising a sophisticated bar experience swirled together with a bit of retro fun.

And between the creative menu, great drink list and bowling­with­a­boost alley, that's exactly what Lanes delivers. Local singers and bands play on weekend nights: on Friday, for example, it's Brian Sances, and on

Saturday, Boombasnap plays; both are scheduled from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Slick and, dare I say, slightly sexy, Lanes is something totally new to Cape Cod and could be worth checking out for a different kind of evening, whether you're the type who gets a strike every time or the one who, like me, would really like to be a kid again so those bumper things on the lanes would be acceptable.

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