In an attempt to find the best Buckeye bar in the Akron/Canton area, The BBC is visiting a different location each week during the 2008 season. Each Monday, a review of the location will be posted, rating the following features; quality of food, quality of drinks, game visibility, and atmosphere.
10 different locations will be graded, and the best spot will become the place where we watch our bowl game.
Week 1 location - Winking Lizard, Canton, Ohio
Quality of food - The menu is loaded. Tons of different appetizers, including the basic staples of apps. 15 different ways to order wings is always nice. Ribs, steaks, sandwiches, and a nice salad menu. They had to have had between 10 and 15 different burgers to choose from, plus all the menu items that makes for a good gameday hangout.
Special note - this is the type of menu you'd expect for a place to watch a game. I don't need creme' brulee with my football.....we're looking for "sports food" here!
I went with potato skins, and they were pretty damn good. Plus, they didn't get stingy with the sour cream, a major bonus. Later, I ordered a chicken caesar salad. Again, it was awesome. Although when the server asked me if I wanted the dressing on the side, I should have said 'yes'. That's my fault, though. The chicken was perfectly cooked. A guy near me got the steak caesar salad, and it looked incredible.
Quality of food - yes, I would recommend Winking Lizard.
Quality of drinks - In three words....oh, hell yes. They've got over 120 different beers to choose from, including their 100-beer World Tour. Ask the bartender for a recommendation, and they'll offer you samples to taste before you order.
You can go with a cheap domestic, or you can try an expensive import. They're all over the map on this feature, and if you're a beer drinker, you already knew about WL.
I tried a Hoegaarden because a cute girl two seats down said to try it. She was right. It was also kinda cool to hear her say "Hoegaarden".
Quality of drinks - yes, I would recommend Winking Lizard. Highly.
Game visibility - Above the bar is a full bank of flat-screens, which were perfect. Two large-screens on the corner walls, and a few other well-placed sets surround the area.
I took a stroll around the place prior to kickoff, and I couldn't really find a spot where I didn't have a decent view of at least one screen. If you're there and you didn't see the game, it's because you didn't want to see the game.
Game visibility - yes, I would recommend the Winking Lizard
Atmosphere - Here's the part where the review gets ugly.
When I arrived, things looked good. All the staff was wearing Ohio State shirts, and the TVs were all tuned to various sports shows (ESPN GameDay, LSU/Appy State, Big Ten Channel preview, golf channel, etc). The house sound was on Kirk Herbstreit, discussing how Bowling Green would upset Pitt. Nice call, Herbie!
Unfortunately, that was as good as it was going to get.
A couple minutes before Noon, each TV slowwwwwwwly changed channels. Just after kickoff, every other set was tuned to the Buckeyes game. The house sound, which was at a decent level when I arrived, could no longer be heard over the din of the crowd. They never bothered to turn it up.
Basically, what I determined from the experience is that Winking Lizard doesn't really get it. They just turned the TVs to a channel and called it a day. There was no real atmosphere for the Buckeyes in the place. They had the game on the screen? Congrats....so did my living room. Give me a reason to come spend money in your place if you want me to watch a game there.
They have a sound system in the place....they should have used it to play TBDBITL before kickoff. No "Sloopy" during halftime, nobody yelling out "O-H", no nothing.
When Beanie scored on the first drive, a fan took the initiative and did an "O-H". Twice. That was about it, though.
The building was between half and three-quarters full, and I think the atmosphere was the reason why. It's entirely possible that Buckeye fans in the area may already know that there are much more fun places to see Ohio State games.
I was so disappointed that I left at halftime and went home to watch the game there.
Atmosphere - No, I wouldn't recommend Winking Lizard in the slightest.
Overall grade - I think this was a great place to eat and have a drink. If you want to go out and meet your friends at a fun place on a Friday night, try Winking Lizard.
The BBC is dedicated to finding the perfect spot to watch an Ohio State game, and this is not the place to do that. If they take advantage of an opportunity and start doing more to fire up the crowd, maybe. But they didn't appear to be interested in giving people anything more than a seat in front of a TV set. Not good enough.
It's safe to say that the Winking Lizard will not be the location for our bowl game this year.