For a sports bar, Wickets Bar & Grill is shockingly free of framed jerseys, stadium art and neon team logos. The owners were aiming for subtle, and that's apparent even in the name -- a nod to the game of cricket. Still, you'll find plenty of beer, burgers and Blackhawks games in this new Schaumburg spot located at the Streets of Woodfield.
Motif: Wickets nurtures a cozy, contemporary feel throughout. Earth tones dominate, with shades of mustard and cocoa on the walls and lots of brick for added warmth. The space seats about 120 at mostly high-topped tables, all with a good view of one of nine TV screens -- including a 160-inch flat-screen against the wall. Again, you won't see the usual team memorabilia, just some tasteful chalk sports drawings to drive home the theme.
Wickets Bar & Grill601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg, (847) 619-1400; wicketsbarandgrill.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Crowd: It was fairly quiet on the midweek night we visited, but those there revealed a mix of ages. The bar draws moviegoers in the evening from the theaters next door and a business crowd at lunch.
Service: Our waitress and her trainee were enthusiastic, pleasant and prompt with our order. They offered recommendations and were happy to chat about the food and drinks. When we inquired about martinis -- on, after all, $6 martini night -- they brought over a long list in progress.
Food: Menus describe Wickets as a "sports bar and restaurant with an urban vibe," and the food choices bear that out. Burgers are a big part of the menu, but you'll also find the restaurant's signature skewers -- available with chicken, beef, shrimp and veggies -- as well as flatbreads, salads, grilled salmon and lobster mac and cheese.
We stuck with the starters -- a trio of sliders and a platter of hot wings. The sliders were the usual mini-burgers served on tiny buns. They were good but clearly trumped by the meaty wings in a sauce with a tasty kick. The wings came with well-seasoned fries, a nice addition.
Liquid consumption: With 30 brews available by the bottle and four on tap, beer is clearly a focus. Yet there's lots more to choose from, including 20 wines by the glass.
We went the martini route and were not disappointed. I enjoyed a not-too-sweet appletini, complete with cherry, while my friend opted for a house specialty: the Cake Martini crafted with Cake vodka, Frangelico and pineapple juice. The juice gave it a tropical taste and made this martini lighter and more refreshing than the name might suggest.
Parking: The restaurant faces a free parking garage, so finding a spot shouldn't be a problem.
Overall: Wickets may bill itself as a sports bar, but you don't need to understand its name -- or watch a game -- to appreciate the ambience and eclectic menu.