In case you haven’t been feeling bowled over by the bars you’ve been to lately, I decided it was time to check out Round 1, the new bowling alley and bar at the Maine Mall. Rumor had it that it served more than just the usual bowling alley beer and had an actual bar to sit at, so I grabbed a few bowling enthusiast buddies and headed to the mall.
Our adventure started off on a positive note, with bowling prices significantly cheaper than at most other alleys in the Portland area. And in addition to bowling, there was karaoke, billiards, arcade games, darts and pingpong, as well as the typical bowling alley fare, like nachos, burgers, chicken wings and pizza.
When we arrived at the lane that had been assigned to us, we were pleased to see a full range of hole sizes in the balls that were available, as well as electrical outlets and USB chargers in the table. Space between the table and the seats was very tight, though, making it difficult for each player to maneuver past the others when his or her turn to play arrived. The dimly-lit lanes were also surprisingly narrow, more like candlepin bowling lanes, and we found the giant TV screens above each lane distracting. On a positive note, the ball return was really quick.
Unlike many other bowling alleys, Round 1 does not offer table service, so after dumping my stuff at our table, I headed to my natural habitat: the bar. Much to my dismay, it wasn’t a full bar – just wine, beer, sake and bottled cocktails. I grabbed a $5 Mike’s Hard Black Cherry Lemonade, one of my friends ordered a $5 pint of draft beer and another got a $3.99 glass of wine. We were excited about the price of the wine until we saw the pour level; it was approximately two sips. Granted, we might take big sips, but it was definitely much more like half of what one would expect when ordering a glass of wine.
Our next stop was the food counter, where we were disappointed to learn that they were out of french fries, nacho chips and small pizzas. In other words, about half of the regular menu was unavailable. Our group tried a $3.29 slice of pepperoni pizza, a $5.99 cheeseburger, a $6.49 order of chicken tenders and a $6.99 order of mozzarella sticks. As you have probably surmised, I wasn’t bowling with any registered dietitians. The chicken tenders were pretty good, the mozzarella sticks were decent, the cheeseburger was cold and the pizza slice filled me with regret. I know people don’t typically go to a bowling alley for the food, but I couldn’t even finish my slice of pizza.
By the time we left after bowling two games, we all agreed that the combination of loud noise and flashing lights (including disco balls hanging over the lanes) had been far too much. Round 1 does a wonderful job of catering to families with small children, but I wouldn’t bring a child who gets easily overwhelmed. Or an adult. And definitely not someone who bowls in a league.
WHERE: 364 Maine Mall Road, South Portland
PHONE: (207) 466-1200
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 2 daily (including major holidays)
AMENITIES: Seated bar area, karaoke, arcade games, bowling ramps for young children, ping pong, billiards, darts, parking lot
BOTTOM LINE: Great place for kids without sensory issues, but not the right venue for serious bowlers.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes