The Alchemist – Waterbury, VT

An extremely popular watering hole, The Alchemist is a brew pub that offers up delicious locally sourced food to go along with its amazing hand-crafted beers.  It is a favorite after-work spot of the locals and on a Friday night in the winter when you have end-of-the-week workers congregating along side the incoming weekend skiers, things can get pretty crowded.  Even during the week, it is surprisingly busy for a restaurant in the relatively quiet little town of Waterbury.

Since I work across the street from it, I’ve had the opportunity to sample much of its beer and several of its menu items.  However, until last night, I had never had their wings (I know – shame on me).

I have been missing out.

The wings come from Misty Knoll Farm, a local chicken farm, so they are super fresh, flavorful and juicy. They come in two styles: spicy dry rub or buffalo style.  I haven’t had the buffalo style, opting for the dry rub.  Next time I’ll go for the buffalo style, but they will be hard pressed to top the dry rubbed version.

The dish arrives with the wings arranged around a small container of blue cheese dressing and covered
with a light sprinkling of crumbled mild blue cheese.  As the plate is placed in front of you, the aroma of paprika and spices mixing with the richness of
the blue cheese wafts into your nostrils. The wings are cooked just right, with light, crispy skin that holds the rub perfectly.  The flavor of the rub is a perfect balance of heat, sweet and savory.  Unlike some other dry rub wings, these don’t lose all their flavoring as you eat them, and it doesn’t overpower the taste of the chicken.  I can say that these are easily some of the best “dry-style” wings I have ever had anywhere.

It is right down the street from The Reservoir, which means that Waterbury, Vermont has two locations that start to make it a wing-lover’s destination.

The Reservoir – Waterbury, VT

The Reservoir in Waterbury, VT used to be called Waterbury Wings, so they have a strong wing heritage.  When they changed their name, they also changed their menu to offer a wider selection of food, but it is still a good 'ol pub type of place, with the usual Vermont spin: tons of craft brews and use of local food. 

There are nine different styles of wings offered, mostly consisting of varying levels of heat intensity, along with a Teriyaki style, Chipotle, Honey BBQ, Spicy Honey BBQ and a spicy horseradish.  All of them are available either "crispy" (fried) or grilled.  They also have frequent specials for additional wing flavors.

Their crispy style are quite good, but I have a preference for the grilled option, which come out nicely blackened and flavorful with a nice light rub.  Straight up buffalo style ("hot") is quite good.  The horseradish is interesting, as it is kind of a wet rub style with fresh horseradish, which isn't as hot as you might think.  However, my two favorites are the Teriyaki style, especially served with the grilled wings, and one that they only offer as a special: Southwestern style.  The Teriyaki are served with a thick sweet and tangy glaze that has plenty of garlic and Chinese five spice flavor in it.  They are a mess to eat, but well worth it.  The Southwestern style come highly recommend if it is available – it is a wonderful combination of savory spices, heat and a little sweetness that just sings when paired with the grilled wings.  It would make even Bobby Flay proud!  

My only sticking point with the wings here is that their crispy style wings sometimes come out a little tough – the flavor is great and they are nice and juicy, but the meat itself is a little tough.  Perhaps they are cooked at too high of a temp or just a bit too long. It is a minor quibble, but one that I feel is worth mentioning.  My solution is to go for the grilled version!  Overall, a great place for wings and if you're also into great beer, terrific burgers and fantastic french fries (they might be laced with crack, they are so addictive), then it is well worth a stop for a wing fanatic.

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars