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Published: Thursday, 6/18/2009

Restaurant review: Fairways Bar & Grille ***

I know what you're wondering, and no, the Fairways Bar & Grille is not located on a golf course. Or even next to one. Instead, it sits adjacent to a carry-out at the corner of Central Avenue and Centennial Road in Sylvania Township.

The restaurant is near a few places where you can hit the links, however, and it embraces the theme fully. The walls are adorned with pictures of legendary holes from across the country, and the menu gets into the spirit by identifying "Fairway's Favorites" with a golf tee and replacing the sandwich section with "Sand Wedges."

This is a down-to-earth place that features a bar and an outdoor patio along with a reasonably priced meat-and-potatoes menu.

To get started, we teed off with onion rings ($4.99), which were large but underdone. The spinach artichoke dip ($6.99) was better, infused with an intriguingly warm, smooth, smoky cheese flavor that was not to everyone's taste but kept me coming back for more.

A wide variety of salads provide great value too. The Greek chicken salad ($8.99) arrived piled high with feta cheese, pita chips, black olives, large hunks of vegetables, and a mountain of grilled chicken breast that was a little intimidating. Even the smaller version without the chicken ($3.99) was enough for a meal.

The homemade baked French onion soup ($4.99) is a hole in one, even on a hot, humid day. It came in a crock filled with gobs of gooey cheese and a mix of delicious bread pieces that maintained just the right amount of crispness.The soup of the day during one visit, a chicken tortilla soup with a cheesy base, packed a delightful wallop.

The Fairways' sandwich menu sticks with traditional favorites like Reubens, BLTs, and fried bologna. While I couldn't distinguish the three cheeses in the "famous three-cheese grilled cheese" ($6.99), there was no missing the 10-ounces of beef in the ground sirloin burger ($7.99). (Others felt there was no missing its salty seasoning either, but I thought it was fine.) Each sandwich comes with a choice of sides, like fries or coleslaw, but the best of the bunch are the crunchy homemade chips.

For dinner, the offerings are solid without being spectacular. A 10-ounce New York strip steak ($16.99) was tender and well-flavored, especially where charred bits gave it an extra zing. Fried Lake Erie perch ($16.99) was nice and flaky.

Other options run the gamut. There are kabobs and walleye, smothered chicken and barbecue ribs. Each entree comes with a choice of potato (a meal unto itself), rice, or vegetable, and soup or salad.

There's a kids menu too, though most of the people we saw were of a much more mature age. Our servers were pleasant, but twice we had to wipe crumbs from our seats before sitting down, and service was sluggish.

The menu doesn't list anything for dessert, but ask what's available; it changes day-to-day. We passed up the cheesecake in favor of a brownie sundae with globs of whipped cream (our waitress said neither option was homemade) and found it to be like the Fairways Bar & Grille in general - not a bogey, not a birdie, but about par for the course.



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