Is this Skid Row’s finest?

After emerging from countless lockdowns, my friends and I decided to head out to Birmingham for a double date. Self-labelled as ‘Skid Row’, we got to see a new, grittier side to the city which served us a few cocktails and nostalgia with a twist.

Ghetto Golf, The Custard Factory, Birmingham (UK).

Frenchie Package (£17 – a round of golf and a cocktail).

Tucked in a side street, a 10 minute walk from the centre, lies a perverted game of mini golf that is full of adult humour and blasts from the past. Ghetto Golf packs a punch from the moment you walk through the door; you’re confronted with £1 condoms for sale, drink caddies and a giant bus in the centre of the space. It’s hard to know where to look first!

I have to give the place props too, they take their part in being safe in the roadmap to normalacy very seriously. Our temperature was taken, we logged into Test & Trace and had a buzzer to tell us when it was our turn to go golfing; and we had to leave once our game ended. So it’s hard not to feel safe and reassured whilst you’re there, which is a strange bar to set when deciding to go out.

We sat down in one of the booths and waited for table service, which came with a sassy side. Our server was brilliant, their friendly banter was enough to put us at ease instantly.

This coupled with the graffiti and ghetto vibe, gave the perfect mix of attitude and a chilled vibe. I felt strangely at home. It wasn’t long before the trash talk started about who would come out on top, and soon shot bets were made.

For those not in the know, count yourselves lucky, but it’s like a standard wager, only the winner picks the shot of their choice and the loser has to pay for it. The shot must be the same for both parties, but if you know what the other hates…well, it can lead to all sorts of mischief. For the record, I hate tequila or sambucca.

All trash talk aside, it was hard not to get distracted by the cocktails and chips! They boasted flavour and style. With enough of a spicy kick to make them enjoyable, without burning your mouth as a consequence! Decent portion size too for a pre-game snack.

As for the cocktails, the guys know their stuff! Some nice flavours, and the addition of some retro sweets as a garnish was a stroke of genius. Only thing is, if you actually want the sweet, it’s a bit of a sticky mess so make sure you’ve wipes to hand.

I had a Cherry Bomb which offers a nice sweet flavour, and felt more like its strawberry lolly counterpart (see photo) than the fizzy cherry flavour the name suggests. Still a winner here though!

As we had the Frenchie package, which included a free drink (cocktails included), we got our cocktail with a free drinks voucher; links to the packages are at the top of the page. If you are looking for a few rounds, the prices are pretty reasonable, with cocktails usually hitting the £6.95 mark.

There wasn’t much time to savour our drinks though, buzzer sounding, it was time for us to tee-up. Golf clubs and balls to hand, you can see the eclectic tastes coming together on the course.

From a bus, a sex shop and a blockbuster – you go from reminiscing to giggling in the space of a course. After all, who doesn’t find it funny when a golf ball makes a dildo wobble as it bounces off it? (Words I never thought I’d say).

By far, my absolute favourites had to be the UV retro gaming room, where you had old-school Mario, Sonic and Donkey Kong. The designs were all vintage but had that fresh twist with the vibrant colours. It was the perfect slice of nostalgia. It reminded us all of playing these games as kids.

By the end of it, there were five points between us. I had, unsurprisingly, come in last and knew it would soon be time to cough up on the shot bet. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the course and would be tempted to visit again, not just for the course, or even the food and cocktails, but for the nice atmosphere in there. My only concern is, that once you’ve completed it, does the novelty wear off?

Rating: 9/10

NQ64, The Custard Factory, Birmingham (UK).

No packages, £7 for 15 tokens and all consoles were free to play on.

Where else to commiserate a loss? At an arcade bar of course! A two minute walk from Ghetto Golf, NQ64 is tucked away in the courtyard of The Custard Factory.

It follows on quite nicely from golf, with its UV designs and classic range of arcade games. Think Tekken, Pac-Man, Space Invaders to N64, Sega Megadrive and SNES – this place has it all!

Now if Ghetto Golf set the bar for safety measures, then NQ64 clearly missed that meeting! I was really disappointed in the lack of safety measures here. It was simple, sign into Test & Trace, wear a mask when playing any arcade games or moving around and drinks were all ordered via the app and were table service.

Whilst I know, in a tiny space, they’re limited as to what they can implement and they’re doing their best, it was still concerning. I only noticed two members of staff, one serving our drinks and one serving the tokens at the front.

It was like we had free reign of the place, which whilst freeing, meant there were a few people taking off masks at games or offering to play with strangers; which again, is a nice gesture, just not in a global pandemic. There was no staff presence to enforce the rules.

That said, I did like their protective screens at the bar with the sassy comebacks on politics, social distancing and just waiting at your table to be served. It was nice to see that feisty attitude almost taking a bite out of that typical customer service approach; and it is something that made us laugh. Just not make up for the definite lack of reassurance and safety we’d had previously.

We took a seat and ordered some drinks. I now had the delight in having not one shot, but two, to pay up for. One tequila, and the other a pineapple rum. Both of which did not go down well, as much as I love rum it was so overpowered by the pineapple; and well, I did warn you I hated tequila!

Now the shots were out the way, and my tastebuds well and truly asaulted, it was time to move onto more drinks! We had cider, rum and coke, but it came to a fairly hefty price tag. Each drink seemed to be around the £8 range, while shots were just under £5. Around £2 dearer than Ghetto Golf!

The drink servings were also quite small, despite the price, the cider came in a can. So it wasn’t like we were getting our money’s worth. I was also very disappointed in the lack of variety here, I wasn’t sure if this was due to a shortage in delivery or if this was what it usually offered but it seemed like you weren’t getting much bang for your buck.

We did manage to claw some money back with the tokens, as 15 tokens was £7 and gave around an hour and a half’s worth of gameplay.

With most arcade games being around 2 tokens per play and all consoles free to play. I can see why people can get lost here! Even with the tokens, however, there wasn’t much variety to buy more than just 15 or less.

There were a few games which had me bouncing between them all night, like pinball! A game I’ve always loved and one that brought me back to my childhood. Now with the added bonus of introducing my best friend and partner to the game too.

They even had one of those Dance Dance Revolution games tucked in a corner. Something I’ve not seen in years! I was reminded rather quickly, though, just how unfit I was with one dance. It’s the double jumps!

But seeing my best friend laugh at my lack of coordination with my dance moves and my partner showing me how to rock out on Guitar Hero – it offered some laughs and really sweet moments.

After three hours here, and two rounds of tokens each, we decided to call it a night. For me, NQ64 didn’t deliver. I felt underwhelmed.

There’s a lack of variety on drinks and games. Sure there’s a few classic games that are fun to play, but nowhere near enough as I thought there would be. I didn’t feel comfortable either, the seating was hard, it felt tiny and with no air conditioning it felt too much after a while.

With that in mind, it’s probably not something I’d come back to; now that it’s off my bucket list. The few games I remembered as a kid, weren’t enough to sell me on the place – and I really wanted to like it.

I think if it offered more variety and maybe some air conditioning, I’d be back in heartbeat. But this is one place which did not live up to my expectations, unfortunately.

Rating: 5/10

For more information on each venue, please check their websites, as linked in this review. All images and opinions are my own, and do not reflect other’s experiences.

Please insert one token for another game…

~ E

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