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Bryant-Lake Bowl's Cheap Date Night Lets You Break Out Your Game Without Going Broke

The Lanes at Bryant-Lake Bowl

The Lanes at Bryant-Lake Bowl

We're with Garfield on this one: Mondays. We hate 'em. But some restaurants are trying to change our attitudes about this bummer of a day, so as the moths continue to fly out of our wallets for the second week in a row, we explore what Lake Street has to offer in the inexpensive evening-out genre: Monday's Cheap Date Night at Bryant-Lake Bowl.

Bryant-Lake Bowl is an intriguing little jewel located on Lake Street between Bryant and Aldrich. The lanes were built in the '30s, "so all kinds of weird shit could happen, but you guys are just playing for fun, right?" asked our charismatic server. Right. The dining area is small, a bit cramped, but has a fun retro feel. We squeezed into our seats, wondering whether this meal would be a real turkey, or a gutter ball.

See also: Cheap Date Night to Try: Broders' Pasta Bar on a Budget

The menus were laid out, and a small half sheet of paper that detailed date night (featured every Monday night between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m.) was placed on top. Along with a game of bowling (including shoes) and a bottle of wine (or two tap beers each -- we went for the wine), there were two entree options, all for $28 per couple. Respecting the carnivores and non-carnivores in the group, BLB offered barbecue beef ribs or barbecue vegetarian sausage patties, along with a big ol' slab of corn bread and...beans.

But something was missing.

Panicked, we searched the special menu, reading the description over and over, until finally we flagged the server down and barked "FRIES?" He shook his head. "Nope, this place is all local and sustainable and organic with no fryer. Do you want chips and salsa or something?" Well, yes. We do. But what do you mean you don't have a fryer? This is a bowling alley, for heaven's sake. A few of us are from Wisconsin and the idea of a bowling alley lacking an assortment of fried goodies including french fries, chicken drummies, cheese curds, deep-fried cauliflower, and mini deep-fried tacos is no bowling alley at all!

BBQ Ribs with Cornbread and Baked Beans

BBQ Ribs with Cornbread and Baked Beans

Breathe.

Breathe.

In through the nose, out through the mouth.

Let's move on.

Before we even got our chips and salsa appetizer (this is not featured on Cheap Date Night, we were just starving and had to console ourselves) our entrees were delivered. The ribs were quite tasty, moist and falling off the bone, and the barbecue sauce was sweet with just a touch of heat. The veggie patties were... well, your run-of-the-mill veggie patties, but they had the same sauce, so they were also relatively enjoyable. The generous slice of corn bread was rich, with small slices of jalapeno -- it could have used a little pat of butter but we suspect quite a bit of butter was used to make the bread in the first place. But can we just take a second and talk about what it was served on? A veritable bed of baked beans. Now don't get us wrong, we love legumes! Scrumptious they are and filling indeed, but not something we want to eat on a date night... unless we're dating James Joyce, that is.

Once we finished our entrees and started on our last glasses of wine, our server notified us that Lane 1 was ready. We brought our beverages along (because what is bowling without drinking?) and started the game. The lanes were charming and busy, and all of the date-nighters (including us) were having a fabulous time, even though most of us pitifully forgot how to keep score without a computerized aid.

Would we go again? Yes! Though the lack of options (and fried food) was slightly disappointing, it proved to be a fun adventure. Just put aside a little cash, grab your sweetheart, and don't forget to bring a pair of socks.

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