Before you continue, let’s be clear about one thing - this is not a review for a bowling alley in Times Square. Office managers stressing over the plans for corporate happy hour, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a French bistro in Soho that’s been open for 25 years where you can feel like you’re in one of the tame parts of a Bret Easton Ellis novel, read on.
Keith McNally opened Lucky Strike in 1989, and for some reason, it’s lesser known than its similarly long-lived McNally counterparts Balthazar, Schiller’s, and The Odeon. Maybe that’s because people think it’s a bowling alley. Whatever the reason, we happen to like it a lot. Here’s why.
On our last visit, the soundtrack was an alternating rotation of Depeche Mode and Michael Jackson and every table had drinks on it despite it being early on a Monday night. And speaking of drinks, when you order a martini or old fashioned or other appropriately strong drink (this place has been around since 1989 but that doesn’t make it OK to order a Cosmopolitan), you get an extra tall glass with crushed ice, a strainer, and the remaining part of the cocktail that didn’t fit into the first glass. In other words: one martini is actually approximately 1.5 martinis. Let this serve as your official warning.
We also like Lucky Strike because it works perfectly in a number of situations. You could, for example, come in with a friend and grab one of the tiny, crowded-together tables in the front and share a steak frites - there isn’t really room for two plates on the table anyway. You might grab a quick glass of wine at the copper bar. If we’re getting serious, you might even linger in the back with a group until 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday night.
There’s just one thing it’s not good for: bowling.
This is exactly the plate of thin steak with thin French fries you would expect it to be, and exactly the kind of thing you want to order here.
You could use some greens to go with that steak. You could use a martini, too. But also salad. Add some chicken if you’re feeling crazy.
French onion soup in a French bistro has literally never been bad, and this one is good. This should be your cold weather move.
The salmon comes with green beans and a side of mashed potatoes. Like Lucky Strike itself, it’s simple and reliable, without being bland. Unfortunately it doesn’t also play Depeche Mode.
The burger comes on a kind of thick, soggy, non-toasted English muffin. For meat and starch needs, see above: steak frites.