Leave it up to Williamsburg to sport a new bowling alley that immediately feels more vintage than a musty tent dress from Beacon’s Closet. Well, that’s because it is vintage: Gutter’s equipment was transplanted from an old Midwest bowling alley, giving the place an oddly cozy ‘70s rec-room feel, like someone built a bowling alley in your delinquent Uncle Joe’s basement and then decorated it while stoned. Thrift-store lamps with crooked lampshades sit on rickety wooden tables, while an old ‘70s-era TV is parked in the corner beneath a string of colorful Christmas lights. The old-school scoring machines themselves look like they were regurgitated from "2001: A Space Odyssey." And you can see it all through the glass partition that separates the alley from the adjacent bar, with its ho-hum wood paneling and Tiffany-ish lamps. The effect is like looking into an aquarium filled with tipsy bowlers, hoping no one notices that their balls love humping the gutter. — Alexis L. Loinaz
Unless you’re an aficionado of “Xtreme Bowling” (think equal parts light show and arena rock spectacle…with multi-colored balls!), the idea of “bowling” probably evokes images of league nights, tacky shoes and cheap American beer, all wrapped up in a veneer of bored suburbia. The Gutter, ironically or not, wants to re-create this image. The eight severely worn-down lanes here apparently were transported straight out of the '70s—as was the confusing, monochrome scoreboard. Shallow gutters meant any hard-pitched ball had as much chance landing back on the lane as staying off of it. Not that it mattered, as our lane broke down twice in the first 30 minutes, once causing a 15-minute delay (and lane change) and then malfunctioning enough to allow us to score a 13 on a single frame (don’t ask—we’re still confused). At least the rates ($6 per game before 8 p.m., $7 after 8 p.m., and additional charges for groups of more than five people) were charmingly old-school. BTW, congrats to music editor Matt Rodbard for pulling out the only three-figure score among the group. — Kirk Miller
A rather ugly sign greets visitors upon entering the massive steel doors. “NOBODY under 21 allowed entry.” But after hanging out at The Gutter a couple times, both for happy hour and late night, the sign could be rephrased: “NOBODY under 25 should enter without the expectation of not recognizing the mid-'90s indie soundtrack and FEELING YOUNG.” Williamsburg now has a leisure sports clubhouse for people born in the ‘70s, and what better way to prove your age than throw a birthday party (which multiple cliques seemed to just be doing one Friday evening). As craft beer flowed and iPhones twittered away, there was an ease among the bespeckled. No matter how much collegiate ass was shaking at a Team Robespierre show up the street in Bushwick, there was no place this crowd would rather be than rolling some ball with their good old friends. — Matt Rodbard
Bowling isn't bowling without beer, and thankfully the people at Gutter agree: Their 12 listed drafts read as a top list of national microbreweries. We settled on a pitcher of Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Sweet Action ($21). Refreshingly crisp, it took the edge off of having a malfunctioning lane. But with five thirsty co-workers, this Sweet Action become more like swift action. For the second pitcher, we went with the Allagash White ($21). Lighter in taste and color, this Maine beer suited the unseasonably warm weather outside. The only thing their beer ruined was the stereotype of Budweiser being the only bowling beverage of choice. — Jessie Pascoe
The grub wasn't quite as innovative, or for that matter, as plentiful. Since the joint encompassed the vibe of a Midwestern alley in every other respect, we were looking forward to some stereotypical bowlin' grub—a revolving glass case of hot dogs on spits, greasy baskets of cheese fries, or (at the very least) some oily pizza by the slice. The only offerings in sight were bags of chips, various types of jerky and "hot fries," which we didn't bother to look into. It was only when we saw a large group digging into a pizza did we realize: If you want to eat, you have to make it happen. Since we missed the BYOF memo (and needed sustenance to maximize our bowling skills), we settled on an Almond Joy and a pack of Rolos from the seemingly antique dollar vending machine. Clearly, it’s for times like these that God (or hipster-types) created DuMont, whose takeout center we hit up post-bowl to pig out on juicy cheeseburgers, heavily salted fries and gratis glass bottles of water. — Perrie Samotin
Off the menu...
What we talked about:
How hungry we were, '90s parties, inappropriate freelancers, the “HCP” designation on the scoreboard (“What is that, a venereal disease?”), the venue’s decidedly indie-rock soundtrack, “Grease 2” and its “We’re Gonna Score Tonight” bowling showstopper, Matt's cracked nail, why Nintendo Wii Bowling is cooler.
200 N. 14th St.
between Wythe and Berry Sts.