Great American Ball Park
100 Main Street
For those of us who grew up in the during the era of the Big Red Machine - when the Cincinnati Reds dominated the National League year after year and won back-to-back World Series titles - this sports bar inside Great American Ball Park should be a Reds fan's dream. Decorated with memorabilia from the halcyon years of 1970-1976, The Machine Room delivers a satisfying dose of nostalgia to long-time fans. The bar opens three hours prior to game time and the wall of windows provides a great opportunity for early arrivals to watch batting practice.
The Machine Room's full service bar is surrounded by high-definition televisions, ensuring that no one misses a bit of the action come game time, and it's also the place to be at the end of the game, when Fox Sports Ohio commentator Jim Day stops by for post-game wrap-up.
We attend a lot of Reds home games but had never visited The Machine Room because their menu isn't posted online and I wasn't sure there would be anything for the vegetarian diner. There was only one way to find out, so we got there early to give it a try. To view the menu, click here.
First off, the only vegetarian "entree" is LaRosa's cheese pizza. Non-meat eaters that don't want pizza are relegated to a couple of deep-fried, greasy appetizers or a side salad. I asked our server if we could get the Mountain of Nachos appetizer sans ground beef and she assured me that it was no problem. What she didn't tell us was that the restaurant doesn't reduce the cost. I think that's naughty.
Secondly, the food really isn't very good, even for a sports bar. One would think that a sports bar inside a ball park would offer something other than what's served at the dozens of vendor kiosks, but actually they serve the exact same food and charge a premium for it. I won't go as far as to say the food was awful, but it was pretty close. I'll let the photos speak for themselves:
As if the food wasn't bad enough, our table was near the restaurant's bussing station and the young man clearing the tables was chucking dishes and cutlery around like he was Edinson Volquez. Every other bite seemed to be accompanied by a loud, jarring crash. Maybe it wouldn't be as noticable in a crowded bar, but we were there early and the place hadn't yet filled up enough to cushion the clatter.
The Machine Room certainly doesn't live up to the great 70's era Reds team, and if I was one of the storied players of that period I would be embarrassed to be associated with it. Make no mistake, this is sub-par bar food by even sports bar standards. The memorabilia may be a grand slam, but the food is a goose egg.
With nothing good to say about the food and the less said the better about the Reds loss to the Brewers, we can at least enjoy some evening shots from the park: