Favorite

Better than par 

Legends is a love-it-or-hate-it location.

You either enjoy quality green carpet and lots of wood paneling, or you don't. You're either thrilled by the sight of an 8-foot wall covered with a picture of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, or not. Virtual-reality golf simulators hosting the occasional free swinger located feet away from dining space are either alarming or completely awesome.

Also, how's your tolerance for the trite? Clip art dots a menu where the beginning Ace Ahi Tuna Tacos ($8.95) give way to the Fairway Philly Dip ($8.95), Dogleg Pork Tenderloin sandwich ($7.95) and a hot Clubhouse Italian ($7.95), all brought to you by a server clad head-to-toe in PUMA golf gear while the U.S. Women's Open plays on TV in the background.

But past all that, there's still the experience, which (to borrow a term co-owners Jeff Carpenter and John Snuckel would appreciate) is the dining equivalent of the first cut of rough. One visit began with a friendly, unprompted explanation and tour of the premises, while the other ended with a half-hour wait for entrees, plus 20 minutes for dessert: some melting coconut and chocolate truffles ($2), and a pair of banana dark chocolate mini cupcakes ($2) that had been dumped on their side. (I won't even get into the Friday night karaoke that had the 60-and-older country club crowd hollering out choice cuts by The Drifters, The Temptations and Johnny Preston.)

Of course, it didn't help that I was cutting into a $20, 8-ounce filet, while one suicidal optimist assailed the room with "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" from Les Misérables, a situation the song threatened to create. What did help was that the filet was stupendous, wrapped in bacon, perfectly medium-rare and covered in a melting hunk of blue cheese walnut butter.

The aforementioned dishes mostly all held up, as well; only the three ahi tacos lost their way, with an overpowering strawberry salsa matched against barely seasoned grilled tuna. But the Philly and the Italian both came on a chewy white roll, with the former doing juicy just right, while the latter nailed grilled cold cuts and spicy peperoncinis. The lightly-fried-and-juicy pork tenderloin — a Midwest staple, says Carpenter — was no joke either, bigger than the bun by three inches in every direction.

Elsewhere, while the pizza's dough was not recommended by our first visit's server, and was thus unavailable, a second brought a thin stone-fired white pizza ($10.25) of grilled chicken, mild alfredo, milder mushrooms, bold apple wood bacon, bolder Kalamata olives and onions. Burger-wise, the Divot Blue Cheese Pub ($9.95) was perfectly rich and moist, even for its well-done status, while melted Stilton over thickly cut pepper bacon worked just like it should.

So maybe Carpenter's and Snuckel's idea will work. They certainly know golf, having previously owned Fit Fore Golf, and Carpenter says he used to run a batch of Florida country clubs. And the old County Line Barbeque location's been reworked like a champ. While the aforementioned virtual reality tickles the pickle of ball-and-club lovers on the inside, a pro shop and outdoor putting greens dot the outside.

For everybody else though, I'd sum up the experience of dining at Legends like I would attending this past week's Open: It's great to see a new place, meet a new face and grab a nice bite to eat, but it wouldn't hurt to like golf.

bryce@csindy.com

  • Legends Golf Pub & Grill lays up, looking for the green.

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