Christopher Go. A 2 handicap, but this is his baby.
“What does that mean?” I mumble to myself. I’d noticed it when I came out from Ma’s Place, the Muslim Chinese eatery (see last week’s column). This sign across the parking lot: The Golf Bar.
Hmm. First clue: a couple of young business bucks walk through the front doors carrying loaded golf bags. It’s around five in the afternoon. And yes, I’m feeling peckish by now. So hey, maybe my first golf meal?
5583 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego
I swing open the door and thwack! A gal and a guy actually swing their golf clubs and contact a real ball, full power. “Swing, 45mph,” says an info box on what looks like video of what might be a Torrey Pines fairway. A painted line follows the real ball the gal has just struck. As my eyes get used to the low light, I see there are four booth areas where groups are sitting, sipping beers, snacking on foods, and taking turns at whacking the ball. Each time they go thwack!, they can see their ball, just like on the TV shows, zooming away. They get instant info on the distance, speed, wind sheer, whatever a golfing fanatic needs. This guy Christopher Go says it costs around $40 an hour for up to four people to play.
I notice that in the last booth, a guy and his girlfriend are throwing a football, as if they were quarterbacks. The ball hits a cloth screen.
“You can choose from 84 golf courses, and play other games too,” Christopher says, “from football to zombie dodgeball.”
“But can I come and just get some food and a beer?” I ask him.
“Of course!” he says. “It’s very social.”
I take a seat. At first it feels like you’re in a golfers’ war zone, but everyone’s laughing and chatting. The Beatles are singing “She Loves You, Yeah Yeah Yeah,” and they even have kids and babies running around.
Chris brings me a menu sheet. “Everything’s boneless, and baked, not fried,” he says. “Healthier, and doesn’t make your hands sticky. Sticky’s not good when you’re gripping our Calloway golf clubs.”
Wings - sesame is the killer app.
So lessee. First good thing is, no dish is over $11, except $15 for a meat and cheese board. Straight away, I’m looking at the first two: “The Turn,” which is a “beer-braised bratwurst” with caramelized onions and sauerkraut and spicy mustard, served in a Hawaiian roll cut into thirds for $9. The other choice Chris says is by far the most popular: “crunchy garlic wings.”
They’re “boneless wings tossed in a savory crunchy garlic sauce, toasted sesame seeds, and cilantro, and served with a side of ranch.” They cost $10. You get seven wings, judging from a couple of plates I see passing by.
Then there’s “Buffalo cauliflower,” with blue cheese dressing, celery sticks, carrots. Goes for $8. Sliders with chicken breast, bacon, mozzarella, and ranch are $10; cheese bits and tomato basil soup to dip them in cost $10; a “loaded” spicy quesadilla with grilled veggies and pickled jalapeños comes with ranch and pepper jack (or hummus), and for two bucks extra you can add bacon or grilled chicken. A bacon and cheese flatbread’s $9. Add a $9 farmer’s toast (think hummus), and the $15 meat and cheese board, that’s pretty much it.
Maldon sea salt adds twang to vanilla ice cream.
D’agh, I go for the wings, natch, and the bratwurst. Have to say, the crunchy, boneless, totally garlicky wings are so beautifully sesame-twanged, it’s almost a travesty to dip ’em in the ranch. But of course I do.
“The Turn” — golf lingo for the break between 9th and 10th holes, during which golfers like to eat hot dogs — is a really good and filling brat. Sauerkraut puts up a good battle with the sweetness of the onions, and the mustard smacks ’em both upside the head. I can eat only one of the three. Blame the wings.
And goodness, don’t they all mesh nicely with the Robot Panda hazy — and gentle — IPA. It’s more fruity than bitter. Out of Portland, Hopworks Urban Brewery.
Of course, it’s hard to concentrate when you’re in the front row of this spectator gallery, feeling like you’re at Torrey Pines. The video, including real flying golf balls, is so realistic you almost want to duck.
“This is the first golf bar in San Diego,” says Chris, “so we’re feeling our way.”
“The Turn,” braised bratwurst with sauerkraut, caramelized onions, spicy mustard.
“Four days after we opened, they announced the lockdown. We had to close. Then, with outside only, we couldn’t do any golf. So we concentrated on serving food. We set up tents, until it got unbearably hot out there. But thank goodness we’ve been able to re-open the golfing side. Social media has saved us. It’s going well.”
In the end, I can’t resist ordering one of the two desserts they have, the Warm Chocolate Chip Cookie ($5). Chris’s buddy brings out this mini iron skillet, kinda sizzling with the cookie, and a vanilla bean ice cream trying to slide off the top like an Antarctic ice shelf.
“Don’t hold the handle,” says Chris. “It’s scalding hot.”
Glad he told me. I was about to lift it up. So I bend down and start cutting out a bit of melting cookie, nicely in time to The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night.”
“What else do you do?” I ask.
“I’m a financial analyst,” says Christopher. “I’m also into real estate.”
The guy never stops. “Then one night, I had this idea. I sat up in bed: ‘Let golf come to the people!’”
Since then, despite little problems like a global pandemic, he hasn’t looked back. Only thing I’ve got to learn: how to whack a golf ball. ■
- The Place: The Golf Bar, 5583 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Kearny Mesa, 858-598-5101
- Hours: Monday - Thursday, 4:00pm-10:00pm, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 11am - 10pm. Closed Tuesday
- Prices: “The Turn,” a “beer-braised bratwurst,” with caramelized onions and sauerkraut and spicy mustard in a Hawaiian roll, $9; crunchy garlic wings, (boneless), $10; “buffalo cauliflower,” blue cheese dressing, celery sticks, carrots, $8; sliders with chicken breast, bacon, mozzarella, ranch, $10; cheese bits and tomato basil soup, $10; “loaded” spicy quesadilla, grilled veggies, pickled jalapeños, with ranch, pepper jack (or hummus). Add bacon and grilled chicken ($2 extra). Bacon, cheese flatbread, $9; farmer’s toast (hummus), $9; meat, cheese board, $15
- Bus: 44
- Nearest Bus Stops: Clairemont Mesa Boulevard at Doliva Drive