By Chris Sosa, @redeyesportschi
12:00 AM CST, January 27, 2014
1141 W. Armitage Ave. 773-698-6020
Rating: !!! (out of four) Off to a good start
As someone who loves golf, I accept that the sport is perceived as hoity-toity. Fairways, a new bar/restaurant/golf simulator spot in Lincoln Park, plays right into that by shooting for foodies as well as die-hard golfers. Does it succeed, and does it have a shot at attracting other patrons? RedEye paid Fairways a visit and came back with these observations, birdie- and bogey-style.
BOGEY: First impressions
Half our foursome detected a strange, unpleasant odor when we walked in. We were also turned off by the dried food stains on some of the menus. And when we got upstairs to the simulator bays, it wasn't obvious who was running the show. I also found it odd that just one person took care of food/drinks/bussing tables/simulator orientation/bartending when all four bays were packed the evening we visited.
BIRDIE: The service
Once my friends and I were set up at the simulator, the person who waited on us was very good. We never felt like we were waiting for anything, or rushed for that matter.
BOGEY: The waiting
Although we had a reservation, the staff had to ask the previous group to vacate the simulator before we got started. Another group in the waiting area had the same experience. I also noticed the four-people-per-bay rule was not "strictly enforced" despite a sign proclaiming otherwise. The staff was understanding and allowed us to stay for the full two hours we had booked, but it could have been a problem if another group had been waiting for us to finish.
BIRDIE: The equipment
You can bring your own clubs, but the house equipment is a mix of high-quality manufacturers: Callaway, Nike, Cleveland and Taylor Made. Do bring your glove, however.
BIRDIE: The games
The draw for serious or even casual golfers is the chance to play legendary courses—think Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, St. Andrews—as well as par-3 compilations and other features possible only in virtual golf. There are a handful of other games, such as field goal "kicking," breaking windows on buildings and tic-tac-toe, so even if you're not into "regular" golf, you won't get bored. It took no time to get the hang of the simulator controls, and switching from game to game was a snap. Keep in mind Fairways is not a substitute for a practice facility: You probably hit the ball farther in real life than the simulator suggests, especially on full swings.
BIRDIE: The price
At $50 an hour, simulator rental is reasonable when split four ways. If you're not eating, you should complete 18 holes in two hours, three at most.
BIRDIE: The food
Fairways' appetizers ($7-$11) won us over big time. The pork belly (with vanilla risotto, chipotle caramel and peach chutney) was decadence at its finest, though next time we'd order it as a dessert—it was that sweet. The kobe beef sliders were top-notch, and the char-grilled chicken drummies with "angry sauce" featured a seriously spicy kick. I suggest eating before or after you play, as space is scarce near the simulators. While there are no restrictions on where you eat, downstairs is where the enormous TVs are, and you won't have to worry about getting clocked with someone's backswing if you're walking around snacking.
BIRDIE: The beverages
The bourbon-based Armitage Ave cocktail ($10) was balanced and worthy of a Sunday morning on the course. My friend found the prosecco-based Lincoln Park After Dark ($10) tasty but not too sweet, and the perfect "lighter" option with so many scotches, bourbons and beers on the menu. Speaking of beers, there is a healthy list of options, with about a dozen craft brews.
Everyone in my group—two golfers, two nongolfers—enjoyed themselves, and that says a lot. Credit that to the food and the the opportunity to add some action to the bar experience, especially when we're stuck in a relentless winter.
Chris Sosa is RedEye's sports editor. Reporters visit bars unannounced and meals are paid for by RedEye. @redeyesportschi
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