Winking Lizard Tavern, the Bedford Heights-based sports bar chain, has recently planned an expansion across Ohio with Winks Bar and Grille in the Galleria at Erieview being their first opening. Founded in 1983, the company has 14 restaurants and two Lizardville stores across northeast and central Ohio and they plan to keep growing. Their newest concept, Winks, focuses on local beer, liquor, and locally sourced food.
Service & Atmosphere
Located inside the Galleria, a once-thriving shopping mall on East 9th Street in downtown Cleveland, Winks Bar and Grille is a new and surely welcomed addition to the mostly desolate building. Wink’s interior is a tad classier than the typical Winking Lizard restaurants, with nicer bar decor, new high top tables, and neat tributes to Cleveland adorning the walls. They also boast an awesome outdoor patio, perfect for a post-work happy hour during the warmer months.
Upon arriving, we were promptly seated and then greeted by our server who was friendly and knowledgeable about the drinks and menu items. Our food arrived quickly after we ordered it, and our server continued to be attentive throughout the our entire meal.
After being seated, I immediately started looking for the beer menu–it was nowhere to be found. I started to panic until our server told us about the mobile beer list: just scan the QR code on their drink menu with your phone and you’ll be taken to a website where you can view their current offerings (there’s also a list on a TV above the bar, for those without smart phones).
Winks boasts a fantastic selection of 33 beers on tap all from Ohio and neighboring states, including favorites like Kentcuky Bourbon Barrel Ale, Founders Breakfast Stout, Bell’s Two Hearted, Fat Heads Head Hunter, and a variety of seasonal offerings. The beer prices are comparable to those at Winking Lizard, reasonable considering the quality–most range from $4.00 to $5.25 for a glass.
Winks also serves up an assortment of Ohio-made wines ranging from $5.50 up to $11.00 a glass, and liquors ranging from $4.00 to $10.00 a shot.
If you’re looking for an even better deal on drinks, stop by Winks after work and check out happy hour from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. where you’ll get $1.00 off all Ohio wines and beers.
Wink’s menu offers up usual bar food favorites including a variety of appetizers, salads, burgers, and sandwiches, with a focus on using locally produced ingredients whenever possible.
I opted for the black bean burger ($8.29), a house made patty topped with pepperjack cheese, black bean salsa, and onion straws on a ciabatta roll. The burger was an almost perfect concoction of black beans, peppers, onions, and corn, save the liberal seasoning–it was too spicy, and not in a good way. Aside from being overly seasoned, it was good in comparison to other house made black bean patties, and the crispy onion straws and tasty salsa were the perfect compliments. I ordered a side of fresh cut frites with my burger which were good, but easily forgettable.
Also sampled was the all American burger ($8.79), an angus patty served on a knotted roll, which was the perfect size, flavorful and juicy, and cooked to a perfect medium well.
Favorites on Wink’s menu include the wedge salad ($5.79), the Langostino Lobster flatbread pizza ($9.29), the Cleveland Polish Boy ($8.49), the orval bison burger ($10.29), and the California chicken sandwich ($9.99).
Wink’s menu was exactly what I was expecting: Winking Lizard food, only stepped up a few notches. The condensed menu, well thought out choices, locally sourced foods, and an emphasis on Ohio-made beer, wine, and liquor all make Winks stand out amongst other competing bars in the area.
Find more reviews of Winks Bar and Grille on Urbanspoon: