Bar profile: Gaming goes gourmet at this new Star Lanes bowling alley

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From the May 9, 2013 edition

Star Lanes Polaris is more than a bowling alley. The open space is divided into the usual bowling alley trappings — bar and restaurant, bowling lanes, pool table and shuffleboard, a game room — only the difference is panache. Every bit of Star Lanes is upscale, especially compared to its bowling alley brethren.

Star Lanes owner Doug Mechling said Star Lanes is “designed to attract people looking for all kinds of entertainment.” It does just that.

The lighting is low and the decor, with giant comfy couches and hardwood tables, is more like an upscale lounge than a place you’d find The Dude and Walter Sobchak discussing the tenents of National Socialism.

The 14 bowling lanes are fluorescently lit with huge TV screens behind them, and each lane has a touch screen that connects to social media or uploads personal pictures to the scoreboard. (I imagine humble bragging strikes and spares are frequent.) Games are $4.95 a piece before 4 p.m. every day and $5.95 after (Monday-Thursday). Hourly rates apply Fridays and Saturdays after 4 p.m.

The bar and restaurant, called The Point, is where Star Lanes really excels. The scratch-made menu items are far from the stale nachos and hot dogs of the olden days. The Brutus Burger ($11.75), topped with pulled short rib, caramelized onions and white cheddar, is impressive. For something shareable, the four slider varieties ($8.95) offer equally succulent options. The menu is expansive with tacos, pizzas, wings and sandwiches — the Turkey Club ($9.95) with avocado, bacon and a fried egg is the standout — that are all fresh, scratch-made.

On the drink side, Star Lanes has 12 drafts (with a tap reserved for Columbus Brewing Company) and twice as many bottle beer options to go with a cocktail menu. There is also a sizeable wine selection. The cocktails and martinis ($7-$9) are on the sweeter, fruity side but pack a punch. During happy hour (4-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday), drafts are half price and bottles are $1 off.

The other noteworthy aspect is the bring-out-the-kid-in-all-of-us game room. Many of the classics will take you back, but the update is a game card system that keeps track of credits and (virtual) tickets. A number of Skee-Ball and Pop-A-Shot machines are present, and the massive Pac-Man game is a welcomed update to the tabletop version. Tickets are redeemable for Whoopee Cushions and other old-school favorites, or iPads and modern electronics.

There is also a large VIP/private party area that has six lanes with a private bar and personal food service. It’s ideal for birthday and bachelor(ette) parties or corporate events.