Last week, I rolled into Ten at Park Lanes to sample their new barbecue loaded menu. In addition to the new menu, Ten (formerly George Pappas’ Park Lanes) now has a revamped indoor lounge and three separate outdoor patios, including a 24-tap outdoor beer garden and cornhole boards. While the vibe in the Charlotte bowling alley is purposely retro, the menu is anything but, with a focus on scratch-made comfort food.
While we waited for the tasting to begin, we sampled a few of the 12 bottles of moonshine Ten keeps on tap, including cinnamon moonshine, apple pie moonshine, and my personal favorite: blueberry infused moonshine lemonade:
It’s all about options at Ten, including the choice of four different barbecue sauces.
- Chipotle Apricot: sweet and tangy with a gold mustard base
- Coffee Jalapeno: smoky and spicy
- Piedmont Blond: tangy vinegar with a hint of ketchup
- Double Honeycomb: sweet and sticky
Ten’s menu is sprawling, and we got to scratch the surface through a five-course tasting. FIVE. COURSES.
Course #1: Starters, Sliders, & Sticks
Dinner began with southern style fried pickles and jalapenos ($6).
Fried pickles are a mainstay here in North Carolina, and I’ve had good ones and bad. The bad usually come in the form of greasy, thinly sliced pickles with breading that slides off when you bite into it. The pickles at Ten avoided all these snafus – they were cut on the thick side and the breading held on with each bite. The addition of jalapenos added a nice heat kick, and the app wasn’t greasy at all.
Next, we were on to the Sliders and Sticks portion of the menu. First up: PBR Sliders with shaved smoked angus prime rib, local blue cheese, roasted sweet onions, and homemade garlic mayo ($6).
These sliders were one of my favorites items of the night. The local blue cheese was very mild and added a hint of tang without overpowering the prime rib or the sweet caramelized onions. One can only hope that they start selling these little guys by the case. Please.
The smoked pork belly skewers with grilled naan ($6) were one of my least favorite plates of the evening:
I’m no pork belly connoisseur. In fact, I’ve only tried it once before and found the squishy texture disturbing and unappealing. The porky belly skewer at Ten was a completely different experience. The meat had bite to it – it didn’t fall apart in my mouth. This skewer was served naked so that you could add the sauce of your choice to the meat. Even with the addition of bbq sauce and the warm charred naan, the appetizer lacked cohesiveness. I’d pass on ordering this next time.
Course #2: Fresh Tossed Salads
First we tasted grandma’s salad, featuring mixed greens, smoked gouda, roasted almonds, turkey breast, orchard apple, dried cranberries, and sweet basil jam vinaigrette ($6 for a small salad). This salad was absolutely delicious, especially the dressing.
The flavor profile of this salad was much milder than the first. I don’t usually prefer fruit in my salads, but the fruit in both of these dishes was used sparingly and added just a touch of sweetness. Both of the dressings were fabulous.
Course #3: Fired Flatbreads and Retro Burgers
After our salads, we moved onto the BBQ Chicken flatbread pizza. It included slow roasted chicken, applewood bacon, caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella, smoked gouda, and cilantro ($9)
This pizza was so good I burnt my mouth on it… TWICE. I was incapable of waiting for it to cool off. The barbecue was tangy and not overly sweet–the perfect balance.
I was amped to try these burgers, but I found them disappointing. The meat was dry and lacked flavor, and the sandwich as a whole was pretty bland. I’d pass on these burgers in the future.
Course #4: Smokeshack BBQ and Sides
I couldn’t wait to try some meat at Ten. They use a custom built 400 pound smoker to cook up ribs, chicken, pork, sausage, and beef. We first got to sample the pulled Boston butt ($11).
And then the St. Louis Cut Ribs (4 Bones $10)
One bite into the rib and the entire hunk of meat slid right off the bone it was so tender. Both meats were juicy and flavorful–I didn’t even need to add additional bbq sauce.
For sides, we tried the creamy cheddar mac & cheese ($5) and Sunday baked beans ($3):
After fried pickles, macaroni and cheese is the second most important southern tradition. I adore it. Ten’s version is creamy with a strong cheddar taste. I passed on the beans and instead mixed a big hunk of pork butt in the macaroni. THAT was a droolworthy combination.
Course Five: DESSSERT
The evening ended with a slice of homemade moonshine pecan pie. The pie had a crisp top layer and a sinfully creamy middle. I couldn’t taste the moonshine, but I’m fairly certain there were miniature chocolate chips in there.
It was divine.
Overall, I was very impressed with the food at Ten at Park Lanes. The PBR slider, barbecue chicken pizza, mac and cheese with pork butt, blueberry lemonade, and pecan pie were my favorites of the night (honestly, I couldn’t narrow the list down any more than that). The menu has at least a dozen other dishes I can’t wait to try, including the goat cheese spinach dip, pulled pork tacos, and the southern spiced sausage skewers.