Report Card: The Winking Lizard Tavern

winking-lizard-tavern


Winking Lizard Tavern on Urbanspoon
www.winkinglizard.com

Overall Grade B

The Breakdown:

Atmosphere:  Grade B-:  We frequent the Lizard on Hutchinson, but there is also a location on Bethel Road.  The Winking Lizard on Hutchinson has been recently renovated to expand the patio bar area.  Over the past 5 years, I’ve visited the Lizard more often than I’ve visited my parents – a lot more often.  The atmosphere varies depending on the time of day and what major sporting event, if any, is on the tube.  The atmosphere ranges from quiet and serene to raucous and chaotic.  You’re not going to get the quiet and serene treatment during an Ohio State football game, in case you were wondering.  The décor is typical Sports Bar, with sports related items hanging from the walls, and numerous widescreen TVs scattered around the bar and dining area.  One thing the Winking Lizard has that none of the other sports bars in Columbus has is a rather large lizard.  Don’t worry…it’s in a terrarium and not out wandering amongst the customers.  And,  I don’t know if the lizard actually can wink.

High marks: fun, cool live lizard, plenty of flat screens, improved patio area, free popcorn machine

Low marks:  it can get quite loud at peak times

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Service:  Grade B:  Honestly, the service at The Winking Lizard used to be below par.  We have always thought they had the best food for a sports bar, but we never considered them a favorite because service was abysmally slow.  Something has changed in the last 18 months, because the service at The Winking Lizard has radically improved.  Servers are more attentive, which is rather important for an establishment that pushes beer and hot wings.  Nothing is more irritating than having a bone dry beer mug and a mouth full of spicy garlic wings.  Food comes out in a timely fashion, and a fresh beer is always just minutes away.   They have a server named Ashley who actually takes my next beer order while she’s delivering my first, and automatically retrieves it when I get low.  She’s AWESOME.  Service is not perfect but it vastly better than it used to be.  As you would expect, peak times result in slightly slower service, but what do you expect?

High marks: attentive serving staff, accommodating of special requests

Low marks:  can get a little slow during peak times

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Food/Spirits: Grade B:  Take you traditional sports bar menu expectations and chuck ‘em out the window.  The Winking Lizard is not your typical sports bar.  Yeah, it’s got really good wings, and burgers, and fries, and so on…but the menu has a lot more to offer than traditional sports bar fare.  We’ve sampled the entire menu, and it’s all phenomenal.  You gotta get there during Lent for the perch dinner, or the Brat Burger during Octoberfest, OR the yummy seasonal fare they offer up during Mardi Gras.  Evidently, someone forgot to tell chef he or she is working in a sports bar.  Now, that’s only half of the allure.  The rest, I guess you can blame it on the a..a..a..a…a…a…alcohol, baby.  Hundreds of beers in bottles and a robust selection of beers on tap, the only way you’re not going to find a beer you love is if you don’t like beer, and even then they probably still got one you’d like.  Katina doesn’t like beer, but it doesn’t stop her from backwashing into mine whenever I turn my head.  She’s in it for the mixed drinks, and she has yet to find one that’s not yummy.  If you order the drink of the month, odds are you’re in good shape.  My only criticism with The Winking Lizard is their wings.  They’re very good, but they can be inconsistent.  And I’m not sure I buy the ratings for how hot their sauces are, because I am convinced the Cajun wings are WAY hotter than the Spicy Garlic wings, but that’s not how they’re depicted on the chart in the menu.  Sometimes the wings are really saucy, and sometimes not.  Inconsistent.  Fix this little problem, and I’ll give you my undying devotion.

High marks:  great selection, delicious dishes, excellent pizza, excellent beer and mixed drink selection

Low marks:  inconsistent wing sauce

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Value:  Grade A-:  The Winking Lizard gets a good grade for value.  The food is very tasty, and the prices are not over-inflated.  Portion size is on the generous side, and you’d be hard pressed to leave there hungry.

High marks:  generous portion size, excellent food for price

Low marks:  a few of the drink prices seem disproportionally high, but most are still reasonable

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