Last night, Rob and I went out for a date night. There is a relatively new steakhouse in town (Flemings), and we had received a gift card. We got all dressed up and headed downtown. Our expectations weren't too high, as it is part of a chain. However, it seemed to have a lot of elements in place for success. The restaurant sources high quality ingredients. It also had one hundred wines by the glass, a concept that I just adore. At first glance, the interiors seemed lovely.
We entered at street level, where the bar is located. Two televisions were on either side of the bar. We were then escorted upstairs to the dining rooms. They have dining rooms. The one towards the back was somewhat crowded and acoustically challenged. The one in the front, where we were sat, has massive windows looking out on the street and intimate booths. There is another bar off to the side. This would be perfect, except there were another two televisions in the dining room. Ironically, the only place in the dining room you could not see the televisions is at the bar. After placing our order, I had the misfortune of looking up and seeing blood and guts strewn across the TV directly in my line of sight....they had "CSI" playing on one of the channels. I hailed the waitress over to ask her to turn the TV off. That was apparently forbidden, but she agreed that "CSI" was inappropriate and changed the channel.
The evening certainly wasn't ruined. I was there more for the company than the restaurant. The food was good, but nothing amazing. I was impressed by the wine list and our waitress was delightful. However, aside from a pub or a sports bar, I can see no reason whatsoever for a restaurant to have televisions in the dining area. If I wanted to watch TV while eating dinner, I could stay at home. This is particularly true for a restaurant with a fairly high price point. Also, any restaurant that prioritizes having the TV on over the comfort of the guests is missing the point of their existence.
I won't be returning to Flemings. Chicago has steakhouses with better ambiance, better steak, and better overall experience. If I want steak in front of the TV, quite frankly I can cook a better ribeye any day of the week.