Into Shelley’s Belly: Bowl & Barrel at the Shops at Park Lane in Dallas

The happy Sprout Kraut Dog (left); neon balls (right) photos by Matthew Shelley

I began my stroll through the Shops at Park Lane, and without my henchman, I initially felt some lightness in my loafers amidst all the concrete and retail fountain spouts. I approached the new boutique bowling arena, Bowl & Barrel, with a giddy, girlish glee. My fingers were ravenous with nostalgic muscle memories of 12 pound glistening balls launched gracefully down greased lanes. My toes tapped along the sidewalk, and spritely into the alley I leaped.

Bowl and Barrel has an intensely hip and lively interior. The restaurant area is adorned with large wooden tables straight from Renaissance-era Scotland, enchanting earth toned walls, and shelves laden with all sorts of pastoral accoutrements above the open kitchen: barrels, jugs, bottles, books, boxes, and copper. The bowling area rises out from the restaurant and bar, and possesses an equally well-crafted space to unhinge your bowling demons. The vintage-style leather bench seats sit across from each other at each lane, and the rustic brick and extended soft tones greet you with casual esteem. It’s a cozy den reminiscent of something Christopher Nolan’s Bruce Wayne might construct and allow only the hippest of friends to enjoy. The tables are shared between two lanes and might run a little tight on space if everyone is ordering, but there is plenty of room away from the lanes to drink while you wait in this fantastically boisterous bowling den. And as my fingers probed the glistening neon balls for the right fit, we ordered some drinks and settled in for what I hoped to be a record breaking pin smashing.

Oysters (left); lane of glory and fear (right)
The Devils on Horseback
The ever enduring bowling shoes

The first to arrive was the Dr. Funk rum cocktail. It’s a mix of Flor de Cana, lemon, housemade grenadine and absinthe. The warehouse windows opening from the bar to the lanes sent a plunging energy through my chest as I lifted the glass to my lips. It was a refreshing concoction straight from Lewis Carroll’s own herb garden. While that’s not true, the lift I endured from this drink was fresh and funky. Next up, we ordered some items from the Barrel Bites section of the menu. The hot fried quail were crispy little drumsticks with a slight cayenne kick. The quail was savory and tender, and the spice had a pleasant finishing punch. We also had the devils on horseback. Aside from the magnificent images spawned from the name alone, the crispy bacon-wrapped medjool dates stuffed with Maytag blue cheese exploded in my mouth with all sorts of happily battling textures and flavors. They were completely luscious. The pungent blue cheese was tempered by the sweetness of the dates and the perfectly crunchy saltiness of the bacon. The delightful little poppers didn’t exist for very long. Our next cocktail followed with much less excitement. The Ruskie Rose vodka made with potato vodka, lemon, housemade grenadine, and apple bitters was an overly sweet, glittered pink cocktail. I enjoyed the light, unobservable foam on top, but its tang was a little too much for my liking.

The blissful butterscotch pie
Hot Fried Quail with side of ranch (left); rustic and cultured restaurant area (right)

(Disclaimer: Kyle Noonan, one of the owners, caught me snapping pics and instantly sniffed my connection to D. What a hound dog. He started sending me foodstuffs, and the following two paragraphs are the result.)

The entrees came next, and as my score failed to rise to the same glorious heights from my younger days, I found comfort in the food and the knowledge that while I indulged on the richness of this cuisine, at least my body was moving in between bites and hopefully shedding some of these calories. First up came the B&B melt. It’s Rudolph’s old school bologna with gooey Muenster and house mustard on griddled rye. My lips are watering again just writing that. This magnificent beast wrapped its ruggedly handsome arms about my torso and squeezed me into a submissive nirvana. I love the feeling of my teeth cutting through layers of thinly sliced meat, topped only by the subtle gooeyness of the cheese and perfectly grilled rye bread in which it was buried. The B&B quinoa that came with it was also an airy and suitably tangy side item for this striking sandwich.

Alongside the sandwich, we ordered the sprout kraut dog. It’s the Bowl & Barrel signature sprout-kraut and horseradish apple sauce atop a gleaming hot dog. The sharpness of the toppings worked nicely with the richness of the meat, and the hearty bun made for an excellent dish. Then came the oysters. With malt vinegar mignonette and housemade crackers, the oysters gave a salty brightness of fresh seafood, and the crackers were subtle and crunchy. I don’t really eat oysters, but for those who know and love them, I would happily venture an encouraging nudge toward these lovely little fellas.  We finished off our dining tour with the outrageously sumptuous butterscotch pie. I kept walking away from it hoping that I wouldn’t feel the need to finish it, but the glowing richness of the butterscotch lingered on my palette for too many minutes, and I kept returning until it was no more. Made with sweet vanilla cream, sea salt caramel and a ginger snap crust, this sensuous dessert left me reeling, and I might have cried a little when it was gone. That’s not important, though. What is important is that Dallas has a genuinely well offered establishment like this to call its own. We are moving into a new era of cool with this boutique bowling alley and restaurant dining Adonis. Outfitted with endless style and mystique, the enveloping energy of this place is contagious and exhilarating.

The Dr. Funk rum cocktail (left); the magnificent B&B melt (right)