We’ve all been part of the group outing where quality drinks and food are thrown to the wayside in exchange for the convenience of buckets of domestic beer and reheated frozen chicken tenders. Bowling, movie/food combos and miniature golf generally end with food regret, a half-drunk pitcher of Miller Lite approaching room temperature and a bill that does not come close to matching my level of enjoyment. With this bias admittedly in mind, I recently had the opportunity to check out the newest TopGolf location in The Colony and sample what was the beginning of an ever-changing, chef-inspired food and beverage menu.
When I arrived, I was greeted by Corporate Executive, Chef Seve Delgado, who had saved us a seat at the bar to sample their specialty cocktail menu and were later joined by Director of Food and Beverage, Mark Boyton, who was kind enough to join us straight from a flight home from a corporate F&B shoot earlier the same day. Their drink menu features craft cocktails, a house-made Sangria, a bloody mary bar and local beers specific to each location (for example, The Colony had Franconia on tap while the Dallas location features Four Corners Brewery.) They also allow bartenders throughout the company to bring new ideas based on current drink trends, which meant our first round featured Dark ‘n Stormy and a Texas Mule (because odds are even your college-aged little brother now has a copper mug and a four-pack of Fever Tree—which we’re completely cool with).
Seve told us they have to walk the line between making good drinks and being able to produce in volume, as their sales numbers are staggering*. The drinks themselves were fresh and the ingredients were strong (Tito’s vodka, Gosling’s rum, and quality ginger beer – not the mailed-in kind or coke/ginger ale sub that has ruined many a drink in other bars). Delgado told us that Top Golf’s goal is to make food and drinks as good as the game. (Success.)
She also told me this menu was just the beginning (the location has been open less than two months), and we will soon see bourbon/whiskey (please hurry on this one), tequila and barrel-aged spirit-driven cocktails. They are working on other bar items such as house-made habanero syrup and other homespun ideas. The menu will rotate every six months and will be based on trend-watching more anything else. (We were told to expect more margaritas, more flavors of vodka and other options to arrive soon.) They are also in the process of building out a defined wine selection and have been focused on finding interesting options that pair well with their current food selections. A big bold cab may not be the best fit for trying to hit the ball cart when it cruises by (come on, admit you do it), but a focus on blends will give more options to find a good wine that matches both the person ordering it and the flavor profile of the dish.
We also tried a few of the sweeter drink offerings: the Orange Dream (a creamsicle-tasting drink that is their most popular specialty cocktail and comes in a 60oz souvenir golf bag fish bowl called the Rum-Runner Up). The sweet drinks are not my wheelhouse, but my drinking companion has experience bartending at a well-known chain restaurant and could vouch for them much better than I could. My take – they were good punch-type drinks, perfect for an outdoor setting, that don’t overwhelm with the sugar taste like so many similar options do.
In fact, despite the fact that we were only there to try the drinks, we heard about flavor profiles and the food so much, they told us they had just a few dishes we had to try – which turned into one heck of a feast. Delgado told us they “don’t want to be known for common food” and they take a similar approach to their menu as they do their specialty drinks. They allow chefs at each location to introduce concepts and ideas, and then identify the best of the best when the menu rotates March of each year. We tried the Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Brisket Chili, which was surprisingly good and admittedly way beyond what we expected. (That’ll teach us to judge a book by its cover.) We also enjoyed their take on a grilled cheese (remarkably rich and hearty with a nice tomato addition), a club sandwich that went beyond the usual chain restaurant feel and chicken and waffle sliders we learned should only be eaten with gravy added to the chicken and then syrup poured over the top. Delgado stressed they make the majority of the menu from scratch in-house and the difference showed.
We spent the last part of the night talking and it was apparent that Delgado and Boyton are just getting started. Both have been with the company for about five years and were almost bashful about their impressive resumes. Both have catered for high end clients, with Boyton casually mentioning his experiences back home in the UK catering ho-hum events like the Beckham wedding as well as special events for Elton John and Andrew Lloyd Weber. They intend to keep building a chef-driven (I should have kept a counter on how often we used the term) powerhouse and The Colony location is off to a great start.
If you’re like me and have only been to the Dallas location, you need to head up north to see the three-story, wide-open building and course (which serves as the company’s new prototype). There is a large patio still under construction and we were told the existing locations will be remodeled in the coming months to match.
Drink strength: 3.2
Written by Brian Bianco
*Last year in DFW alone, they outsold Cowboys Stadium. They are also the largest beer account in Collin County and have similar success in other locations (we were told the Houston location also outsold Reliant Stadium, although this doesn’t factor in what it must take to get through a Texans game this season.