Pinstripes, 5001 Trailhead Bend Way, FW, 682-352-0808. 10am-10pm Sun, 10am-11pm Mon-Thu, 10am-12am Fri, 10am-1am Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Who orders a $32 filet mignon at a bowling alley?
For that matter, who is the target audience for a five-course menu dedicated to peanut butter and jelly, featuring a flatbread pizza that includes the trusty duo along with fontinella and mozzarella cheeses?
If either sounds off-putting, perhaps it’s all in the execution, because at the new bocce and bowling bistro Pinstripes, I once again realized that above-average food can be found in surprising places — especially one where my below-average bowling skills were put to the test by two ringers-of-children who bested me in two games. The fact that they were eating fried calamari at the same time nearly made my head explode.
Pinstripes’ slogan is to “change your frame of mind,” and this was accomplished on a recent weekday excursion to the handsome new Clearfork location of the Chicago-based chain. With fewer than 10 lanes and a small indoor bocce court, the place strikes as on the small side. But the fact that its dining component dwarfs its gaming areas should tell you something.
The first hour found us in the bowling alley, just past where a cook was thrusting flatbreads into a wood-fired oven with daring aplomb. A darkish nook of nine lanes, the area sported a few high-topped tables, and was apparently a den of thieves – this is where my kids stole my dignity and the better pieces of the fried calamari starter.
The squid was nothing special, and the accompanying ramekin of marinara had a sad metallic aftertaste. But the appetizer was perfectly acceptable as bar fare. The light batter gave the dish some crunch, and the fish wasn’t terribly chewy. Flash-frozen though they were, the calamari was appealing, especially to the kids, who eerily bowled tie games (78, 89) while doubled over laughing at their mother’s ineptitude.
Which reminds me of that esoteric bowling proverb, “If you can’t bowl, you should at least be able to eat something.”
In the far reaches of the bright dining room, we ate alone — there were, however, people outside on the patio, which faces Fixe restaurant and abuts the new movie theater — settling into an attractive U-shaped booth against a wall of windows.
It proved to be an amenable setting for dinner, where no gutter balls dwelled, and there was flavor to spare.
From flatbreads to pastas, sandwiches to chef specialties, classic American tastes reign over Pinstripes’ lumbering menu. In the faint distance, it was as if you could hear the official decree of corporate chefs everywhere: “There’ll be something for everyone!”
The youngsters tore into a burger and a kids’ menu order of spaghetti and meatballs ($10) while my husband and I tackled a chicken avocado flatbread, the burrata caprese, and a “Famous” prime rib dip sandwich.
All of it was very agreeable, if you’re not talking about the throat-clearing prices. (But somebody’s gotta pay for that Clearfork rent!)
Among the highlights: The burrata cheese oozed creaminess and, thankfully, was served room temperature, cresting thick slices of beefsteak tomato. A syrupy balsamic hovered above, complementing the caprese.
The prime rib sandwich on a cumbersome pretzel roll was a huge rendition, piled high with well-seasoned thin-shaved beef, kissed with a terrific horseradish cream sauce, and accompanied by an au jus that was all that.
Even the flatbread was near faultless, liberal with juicy roasted chicken and handfuls of roughhewn mini-slabs of bacon. I could have used more than the five slices of avocado that garnished the dish.
But if I were a Pinstripes manager, I’d probably be more concerned that there was no one else but us eating in the dining room. I wondered if the bowling and bocce and burrata revelers reveal themselves on weekends.
Because somebody has to be ordering that ode to PB and J — or else, it wouldn’t be on the menu.
Fried calamari ($8 during happy hour) $14
Spaghetti and meatballs $10
Chicken avocado flatbread $17
Burrata caprese $15
“Famous” prime rib dip sandwich $17