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Bryant-Lake Bowl

Not Rated.
Bryant-Lake BowlBryant-Lake Bowl
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

33 Ratings
Ratings: 33
Reviews: 24
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 7.91%
Taps: 0
Bottles: 0
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

810 W Lake St
Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55408-2846
United States
phone: (612) 825-3737

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @bryantlakebowl

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: tavernjef)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 33 | Reviews: 24 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of woodychandler
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%

This is an aptly named establishment, since it is just off of the corner of Bryant & Lake Streets. Very inspired!

Coming through the door, I was absolutely flabbergasted that Mini-Apple-Us gets to have something like this. The place seems like a time warp to the 1950's, but with good beer. The restaurant tables are made to look like bowling alleys and the wood panelling and star-patterned acoustic tiles are probably original. The back bar has a really Roy Lichtestein-ian looking mural of a bowling ball and flying pins. Why "Bowl" in their name and the emphasis on bowling as a decorative theme? Howzabout a fully-functional 8-lane bowling alley all of the way aft, champ? Yowza!

The lavatories are on the right, headed aft, and hanging above the twin doorways are a pair of chalkboards. The left announces the upcoming shows in the theatre (!) and the right has the draft list of ~ 19 taps, all rockin', plus the daily specials. The theatre is an 85-seat theatre, complete with stage, off to the left of the bowling alley.

I'm coming back!

woodychandler, Dec 21, 2005
Photo of John_M
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%

I suppose if you're looking for an upscale beer and dining experience, this place might not be for you. However, I just loved the low key, laid back, welcome to the neighborhood vibe at Bryant Lake Bowl, and I'm sure I'd be a regular if I happened to live within 10 miles of the place.

From the outside, BLB doesn't look like much, just another funky looking cafe in a diner setting. It's more of the same inside, with a small, informal dining area and 10 seat bar to your left upon entering. In the back there's an actual bowling alley, and I love looking at the happy hour chalk board, which had special pricing for food, beer and bowling lines/games. BLB has the look of a place that has seen a few things in its time, which IMHO only adds to the cool, laid back ambiance to the place. I spent over two hours at the bar, and the time just seem to slip away, while I sat there with my book and kicked back with a beer or four.

As for the beer selection, there was something like 23 or 24 beers on tap (one cider), and the selection was more than a bit impressive. The Surly 5 had just kicked, but otherwise they had the helles and furious from Surly, as well as the oracle, all souls, clutch and Odell's lupulin (among other things). The bartender confirmed that the tap selection turns over and rotates frequently (what a surprise with this line-up).

Service was very good, with my bartender friendly and attentive. He didn't try to BS me with his beer knowledge, noting that he didn't know all that much about the beer on tap (but would be happy to pour me a sampler of anything I was curious about). On the other hand, it was readily apparent that the manager here (Laura) knew quite a bit about the beer selection, and so the bartender could fall back on her for any questions a patron might have (not that I had very many).

Didn't try the food here, but I was more than a bit tempted (but unfortunately, had a number of dining obligations I had to deal with already). Next time for sure...

This is a GREAT place, and is absolutely on my list of places I need to visit whenever I'm back in town.

John_M, Sep 17, 2011
Photo of FightingEntropy
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%

According to my notes, 2002 was the last time I logged a beer at Bryant Lake Bowl. I think I've been there since--just no new beers on tap for me. My recollections of BLB walking in the door again was of an adequate tap list, memorable pad thai and a night of fun but frustrating bowling due to some lanes, though pitchers of Summit smoothed out the rough patches. Last night's Friday night gathering of Sibley friends was a revelation.

Finding a truly amazing beer for the first draft helped the night along: Bourbon Barrel Aged Bell's 9000. Boozy bourbon wafts above a dark ale with an original gravity of over 1.100. Big beer with a complex taste of wood, chocolate, vanilla and sweetness that's smooth, elegant and slightly overbalanced from the high alcohol. A real treat by itself, but it also happens to be the "batch" beer that I was missing. Before last night, I've been able to sample, 5000, 6000, 7000, 8000 and 10,000. Better to be lucky than good, I guess, but frequently good bars will tend to make one lucky as well.

The food is also fantastic. My wife had the mock duck rolls, which she reported as very good--good enough that I didn't get a sample. I did the pad thai with mock dock and my recall on this dish was spot on. Dan ordered medium compared to my hot, which Lori compared and said mine was significantly hotter, as expected; my bald head was sweating slightly, but it wasn't stupid spicey--just nicely at the limit. Plus, I had purposely ordered a double IPA, Bell's Hopsolution, to counterpoint with high hop: an excellent combination that I would love to repeat.

My wife was surprised at how loud it was sitting in the restaurant, but, evidently, she's always been there late at night or not on a Friday. With a full house and a waiting list for the bowling lanes, I was hoarse after our three hour dine and drink session with friends. Not an uncomfortable volume for our group of six and everyone could participate in the conversation, but it did take a bit of effort to speak.

For entertainment, in between the other drafts, I had a little beer you may have heard of...Surly Darkness. With a half a dozen additional beers that I would happily drink, Bryant Lake Bowl has seemingly upped its beer game. I saw on an RSS feed that BLB did have a Bell's event tapping earlier in the week, so maybe we picked a good night is all. But, I intend to test the theory in the near future and not wait so long to return to Bryant Lake Bowl.

http://pintsizedrevelations.blogspot.com/

FightingEntropy, Nov 21, 2012
Photo of jera1350
4.13/5  rDev -1%

Finally made it to BLB for the first time during their Bell's Oberon release party. The place is quite small for the bar and seating areas, but spacious enough. The cool thing is that they have several lanes for bowling. Really a cool beer bar atmosphere with pins being cracked in the background. Kind of a 50's look and feel to the place which I dug. Service was friendly and pretty solid even though it was pretty busy. Our server knew her beers quite well in fact. Awesome tap list, with a really nice variety and a nod to many local brews which is great. Nice happy hour special that didn't include every beer, but a few choices. The food was good. Bar food turned up a notch. I would go back again for sure. Maybe even bowl a bit next time.

I have to give this place $$$ for value because of a second visit there. We ordered the nachos and added on some chicken, guac and sour cream. We get the final bill and each of those add ons were $3 each! $20 for a plate of nachos?! Sorry, but chicken for $3, no problem, but a tiny little ketchup cup of sour cream for $3? Uh, I don't think so. The food was good though, just pricey.

jera1350, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of mattmarka1
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

mattmarka1, Jan 19, 2014
Photo of KarlHungus
4.13/5  rDev -1%

Bryant Lake Bowl combines a two of my favorite things, bowling and good beer. The lanes suck and the house balls are even worse, but the vibe of an old school bowling alley more than makes up for it. The beer selection is very solid. Mostly American micros with some rare beers usually thrown in, and some interesting imports including some nice Belgians ales. Service has been good every time I've stopped in. The staff doesn't seem to know everything about beer, but they know enough about what is on tap to answer most reasonable questions. Overall, BLB is a great place to waste away an afternoon.

KarlHungus, Jan 10, 2009
Photo of Chaz
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%

I've been visiting the Bryant Lake Bowl for many years, and for a short while I considered it to be my local. As far as atmosphere is concerned, the 'BLB' has it in spades, and herein lies a conundrum integral to its reson d 'etre. Sure it's a bowling alley from another era, complete with the sort of retro-chic charm that drives hipsters to distraction, but it's also a theater / performance space, bar ad cafe. Some might consider the mere concept of such a venue to be arty and pretentious, but it literally comes with the territory. Also, an establishment as ambitious as the BLB will inevitably (although no intentionally) spread its charm too thin, but while it sometimes fails, its collective strengths are far more appealing than the sum of its individual shortcomings. The place claims a fairly small footprint, whether in terms of a dining venue, bowling lane, or theater, and to that end it is rather heavily trafficked, inducing a good amount of distraction on the part of its waitstaff. Given the amount of distraction said staff face they do a great job and maintain a commendably cheerful disposition. And when it comes down to it, I've always felt that both the owner and the staff do an admirable job of walking that fine line between retro-hip and post-modern kitsch that such a place exudes. To this end all are welcome and made to feel equally welcome - this ain't just a hipster's hangout. The menu could best be described as unpretentious pub grub meets New American cuisine, and while some might read a degree of pretention into that last category, in this town, especially in the past decade or so, this has been par for the course. Food itself is above average-to-good, with prices as close to inexpensive as you can get without rejoicing in the cheapskate-glory that is a classic dive bar menu (e.g. 75 cent Old Style and $1.50 chili dogs. Beverage selection has always been a strong suit at the BLB, especially given the fact that the beer list has always maintained a degree of precedence over the wine list. This isn't to say that the wine list is a slouch as such, but with a more traditional wine bar to her credit, BLB's owner Kim Bartman seemed content to allow the 'beer bar' aspect of the BLB to blossom. Tap and bottled beers are listed on a blackboard on a wall straight ahead and to your right, just after entering. The bar itself -to your left upon entry- is not so much small as it is busy: this place has an active, thirsty clientele! In the past, I've noticed that the bar tends to posess some unheralded jewels amongst the beers available on hand, and knowing that I'd say you'd be doing yourself a favor in asking the bartender if there are any rare or otherwise unlisted items. In terms of selection, there are 20 taps to choose from, and these frequently feature seasonal craft offerings from Anchor, Bell's, and Victory, as well as locals like Summit and Surly. Belgian beers of every stripe turn up as well, and sell-through with increasing rapidity. Overall, the staff (and particularly longtime bartender Dan Hadley) are up on their beers, so should you feel any hesitation in trying something new, look no further for your recomendations. Definitely worth a visit whenever you have the opportunity, and also makes for a great 'local' watering hole!

Chaz, Feb 07, 2007
Photo of tavernjef
4.18/5  rDev +0.2%

This multiplex of fun has it all from live music, small one man plays, and of course bowling. Oh yeah some good beers to choose from as well. One of the best places to bowl and enjoy an actual Belgian beer. You just don't see that at any other bowling alleys, ever. At least not in my experience. Ya bowl, ya drink, ya eat, its great, stay late for some of the bands or small plays being put on.
I like going there to bowl and drink, some of the music bores me a little, I can only take so many garage bands who make there CD's from there Mac's, but every once in awhile you get some real kickin' - groovin' music. The food is pretty good as well.

Choices of beers run through a small assortment of micros such as the Bell's line with some being on tap, along with Summit, Anchor, and Anderson Valley. A small selection of stouts and porters, all varying from the UK, Germany, and the US. A few Mexican beers and some marcos and then the Belgians of just over a dozen lambics, dubbles, and whites to choose from. Wow. They beat out alot of small town liquor stores. Albiet the service their can really linger depending on how busy the place is, but they're always nice and quite interesting to talk with.
A pleasure to visit for something a little different from the ordinary bar/pub scene. Check out the website, it has all you need to know.

tavernjef, Jul 10, 2003
Photo of Alpar
5/5  rDev +19.9%

Alpar, Aug 03, 2014
Photo of TastyTaste
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%

Kind of a hole in the wall place, right on Lake Street, so it's fairly easy to find. Visited on a Sunday night, a fairly small bar, not too much seating, but an awesome selection of beer. There is maybe 20 tables, with a bowling area in back. Quite a few taps that you won't see many other places in the metro area, including Rogue, Sierra Nevada, regionals, micros, several Belgians. I did not have time to try the food, but I glanced at a menu and it looked reasonable. A small, yet friendly looking place, I wish I could have spent more time here.

TastyTaste, Feb 20, 2006
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Bryant-Lake Bowl in Minneapolis, MN
92 out of 100 based on 33 ratings.