Even though I know golf hates me, I’m a proud Central Ohioan and so I embrace the Memorial Tournament enthusiastically (news flash: it’s happening now). See, the Memorial is a BIG DEAL, and by attracting the world’s media and its best golfers, the tournament flashes a flattering and global light on our fine community that we don’t frequently shine under (it’s especially bright when Leatherlips takes a hiatus from his weather curse).
But let’s face it: Golf is a ballbuster. Literally. I mean you have to club the unholy crap out of that ugly little globe only to subsequently putter-kiss it gently while pleadingly coaxing the stubborn thing to please roll into a hole it’d clearly just as soon avoid. It takes unspeakable amounts of time, effort and talent to achieve any facility at this, and even if you do eventually succeed — well, just consult Tiger Woods on how confoundingly fast things can head south on you.
Here’s where I’d like you to see parallels between the up-and-down game of golf and the difficult and fickle restaurant business. Or you could just consult The Bogey Bar and Grill (nee the Bogey Inn) — that veteran establishment synonymous with golf and especially the Memorial — on how it’s coped with its rollercoaster-like history.
Around in some form since the 1920s, BBG has seen its fortunes periodically soar and tumble. Fortunately, due to a massive overhaul involving new ownership and management, the place is currently on the, uh, upswing.
BBG’s a massive complex designed to accommodate every faction of its dining and party-time audience. Its base (and my favorite area) is a tall, dark and handsome, clubby and sports-TV-equipped stone and wood bar. Radiating off this upscale pub are several comfy and family-friendly dining rooms. Largest of all spaces is a mammoth patio, where spring continues breaking decades after patrons have graduated. It’s loaded with bars, TVs, a stage (warning: there will be Buffett), sand-filled volleyball courts and so forth.
Food-wise, BBG doesn’t phone it in with predictable dreck. Actually, its specials and featured dishes exhibit scratch-made care and even cheffy tendencies.
Especially noteworthy are BBG’s terrific, thin-crusted, “hand-tossed” pizzas. The board-leading Catalonian ($15) was delightfully spicy (Mexican chorizo), sweet (roasted peppers), rich and nutty (manchego cheese and romesco sauce).
Also better than par are the creamy and semi-tangy house salad ($5, with local Blue Jacket Dairy goat cheese, grapes and shaved fennel), homemade chili ($5, hearty, straightforward, deepened with mirepoix) and a huge funnel of Crispy Tempura Green Beans ($7, crunchy, a bit oily, lightly salted).
Honest char-grilled flavor distinguished the super-juicy Memorial Burger ($10, with flour-doused fries). That biggie arrived heavily dressed with fried spinach, cheddar, bacon and a “pink pepper Worcestershire glaze.”
The housemade Grilled Meatloaf sandwich ($9, with fries) delivered another major beef load. Attractively juicy and sear-crusted, it’s outfitted with nifty crispy “frizzled beets,” tortilla strips and oddly pie-like mashed sweet potatoes.
Those same dessert-y tubers formed another too-sweet (for my palate) cushion for perfectly cooked Pan Seared Salmon ($16). The noble fish came decorated with those bacon bit-like frizzled beets and an almost hooch-tasting “verjus gastrique.”
If bigger is better, then BBG’s Chicken Parmesan is best ($13). It was a titanic platter with a XXXL-sized yacht of crisply battered good breast meat. The honkin’ hunk of poultry — as well as a sea of soft-ish pasta — was drenched in a long-cooked and herby red sauce. If it wasn’t exactly a hole-in-one, it was — like everything I tried here — certainly (and ironically) far from a bogey.