T.G.I. Friday’s Ancho Chile Wings – Everywhere

I had high hopes for these wings.  Just read this description: "Our buffalo wings are tossed in Ancho honey-glaze.  Served with a side of green chile sour cream sauce."  Mmmm…. ancho and honey.

Unfortunately, they just didn’t live up to expectations.  They weren’t bad.  But they weren’t very good either.  The flavor was a bit strange – really couldn’t put my finger on it.  They weren’t that spicy and they weren’t sticky sweet.  They are very middle of the road and therefore kind of uninteresting.  Looking back, it may be the fault of the Ancho itself, which has more of paprika flavor and I shouldn’t have gotten so excited.  Chipotle honey glaze… now that would be interesting!

However, the wings are a virtual mouth party compared to the "green chile sour cream sauce" which tastes like leaky sour cream with flavorless little green bits in it.

Friday’s needs to take a clue from its own "Wicked Wings" that I reviewed just about a year ago.  I’ve also had their buffalo flavor and they are quite good.  This was a miss for Friday’s.

RATING: 2 out of 5 Stars

Mill Street Brewpub – Toronto, ON

On my second night in Toronto, I visited a well-liked brewpub located in the old "Distillery District" by the name of Mill Street Brew Pub.  I was pleased to find IPA on cask draught, and a ESB regular draft option available.  As a starter, I had to try the wings.  Mill Street offers 3 levels of hot wings, plus a "Honey Garlic" and a "Soya Ginger."  Speaking with the bartender, he told me the hot wings were your standard buffalo wings – a.k.a. Franks and margarine – so I had to choose between the Honey Garlic and Soya Ginger.  I really wanted to try both, but the minimum order for a flavor of wings is 10.  I was craving a soy based sauce after the previous night’s wings, so I went with the Soya Ginger.

The sauce didn’t disappoint at all, with plenty of flavor and a nice glaze-like sauce.  I think I detected some Chinese Five Spice in it.  They were particularly large wings, and were also breaded, which is perhaps "the thing to do" in Toronto?  However, like the other wings in Toronto, non-breaded wings with more sauce would have been better, but also like the previous night’s, these hardly disappointed.

RATING: 4 out 5 Stars.

Crown & Dragon Pub – Toronto, ON

The first international review on Hot n’ Saucy Wings!  While in Toronto on business, a friend took me to the Crown & Dragon Pub knowing that I enjoy wings.   The selection here is extensive – over 20 styles of wings, many with an Asian or Indian influence, reflecting the tastes of both Toronto and the pub’s owners.  I went with a fairly traditional type wing, their "Dragon Wings" which were listed as "Hottest." 

The wings were nice and meaty, and perfectly cooked.  They were of the breaded variety which I don’t usually like as much as the non-breaded versions, but they were smart enough to serve them quickly and not drown them sauce.  The sauce itself was very close to a traditional buffalo wing sauce.  Supposedly it is an original recipe that they "stumbled upon" and is very hot.  There was definitely heat – but moderately hot – and the sauce tasted fairly traditional to me.  The lose a few points for not living up to the billing, but overall, very satisfying wings. 

My dining companion went for their sesame-soy variety, called "Turning Japanese." A sucker for soy-based wing sauces, I had to try one, and they were very good, with a pronounced sesame flavor.  A bit more sauce might have made it better.

On a non-wing related note, try the hand-cut yam fries.  The fries themselves are really good, but the dipping sauce is fantastic.  I don’t know if they serve wings in the sauce, but if they don’t, they should!  Loaded with red chili flakes, soy, and what I think was fish sauce, not only did it compliment the fries, but the onion rings and both wings on on the table.  If the beer hadn’t been so good, it might have even made the beer taste better!

Dragon Wings RATING: 3 out of 5 stars

Turning Japanese RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Dipping sauce served with yam fries RATING: 5 out of 5 stars!

John Harvard’s Brew Pub – Framingham, MA

I’m a long-time fan of the John Harvard Brewpub in Harvard Square, but until recently, hadn’t been to the one in Framingham.  Located in a strip-mall saturated area of Route 9, the interior is surprisingly warm and comforting, reminiscent of the original in Cambridge.  I walked in with my "Hophead" t-shirt on from BeerAdvocate.com, looking forward to a nice IPA.  I sat down to see that they had an extra hoppy version of their IPA available, but my hopes and dreams were dashed by the bartender who came over and said "Hi folks, just wanted to let you know that we’re out of both IPAs tonight."  He went on to explain why, but I didn’t hear anything as I found myself lost in a cloud of disappointment.

After that blow, I was determined to have buffalo wings, which I was looking forward to, as the last time I had them at the Harvard Square restaurant they were cooked to perfection and very hot and spicy – bordering on too hot.  I had them long before I started this blog, so I was looking forward to revisiting them.

Unfortunately, they turned out to be slightly disappointing.  Not that they were bad – they were just average.  The wings were cooked well, and the sauce had a kick – but wasn’t anything great and they certainly weren’t generous with it either.  The chicken was actually a little tough – possibly cooked before fully thawing – and I think the bartender may have let them sit for a bit on the service window, as you could tell they WERE crispy, but weren’t starting to get saturated in their own spicy sauce.   

They wouldn’t have been really disappointing if I had no expectations, but I did, so they were.

RATING: 2.0 out of 5 stars

Archie Moore’s – Milford, CT

When you’re wing addict to the point of having a blog reviewing them, you do some silly things in pursuit of good wingage.  You do things like go out of your way to get to a recommended wing restaurant for lunch, even if you have to spend 15 minutes in the car and another 15 minutes walking around a rather small and nondescript downtown area, waiting for the place to open.  And once you get inside, you suffer through indignities like slow service since the staff is still getting ready for the main lunch crowd, and watching your dress shirt get ruined as you drop a wing down your front and watch it leave a huge orange-red greasy streak.

However, if the wings are good, its worth it.  And these wings were worth it.  Archie Moore’s has five locations throughout southern Connecticut and claims to have wings "Voted Best Wings in CT."  Now, there was no explanation of WHO did the voting, and I haven’t eaten wings in that many places in Connecticut, but Archie’s certainly sets the bar pretty high.

Like any good wing, these were perfectly cooked.  Crispy and cooked all the way through, while still being moist on the inside.  The sauce is pleasantly spicy – a good amount of heat but a lot of flavor, with a delicious glaze of orange spicy oil floating around.  They remind me of the wings at Quaker Steak & Lube or Wendell’s and I mean that as a compliment of the highest order. 

They aren’t anything unique or breakthrough, but they are perfectly executed and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. 

The blue cheese dressing that accompanies the wings is quite chunky, which I like, though it is less thick than you usually find with a creamy dressing.


Cheesecake Factory – Everywhere

Well, let me start off by saying that i’m not the biggest fan of the Cheesecake Factory.  I think that there are better places for the money, but I do love their cheesecakes.  However, on a recent trip I finally got a chance to try their "Buffalo Blasts."  Not a chicken wing, but it is a wonton wrapper filled with buffalo style chicken.

They are as good as you want them to do with a cooling herbal ranch dressing.  Pleasantly crunchy on the outside and spicy and juicy on the inside.   I won’t give them a review rating since they aren’t wings or "boneless wings" but did want to bring it to the attention of my fellow buffalo enthusiasts.

Pitcher’s Pub – Cumberland, RI

I kind of wish I had a beer blog too, just so I could review this place there, but I think three is enough.  One of them goes virtually unattended to as it is. 

Pitcher’s Pub is the corner bar for beer snobs.  They have a great selection of beers that are constantly rotating and aren’t afraid to try new and different beers, which is refreshing to see.  On my most recent visit there, I tried their buffalo wings, which are like the rest of their fare: good, standard, well-executed and a nice complement to the beer. 

The wings were of the coated/battered variety, of which I am not usually a fan, but these were well cooked and served immediately after cooking, so the outside was still crispy.  The sauce was pretty standard, though I think I may have tasted a little extra vinegar flavor in them.  However, it was pleasantly spicy, not overwhelming and flavorful.  Blue cheese was tangy and chunky as it should be.

As good as they were, they aren’t as good as just regular wings cooked, sans breading/batter, so I have to take a star off for them.  Otherwise, they are good: well cooked, good sauce, good accompanying blue cheese.  If you like them battered/breaded, then this is a great place for wings.   

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars 

Wendell’s – Norton, MA

This is a surprising little place – a hole in the wall bar/restaurant that from the outside looks like the type of place that someone could come flying through the front door – or window – of at any moment, followed by a large group of people punching each other.  Once inside, it kinda reminded me of Archie’s place on Happy Days.  Nice little jukebox in the corner, a bar in the back, two dartboards on the wall.  Cozy.  Hospitable.  Smells like… wings.

The wings at Wendell’s are very reminiscent of those found at Quaker Steak & Lube, with an interesting fresh pepper flavor and different texture to the sauce.  This isn’t just Frank’s Red Hot and margarine tossed together (not that there’s anything wrong with that…), but a real home-made tasting sauce.

Like many other wing-focused menus, they offer a selection of sauces, ranging from "Sissy" which is a garlic and butter sauce that had a lot of flavor from what I tasted, all the way up to a "Suicide."  Apparently there’s an even hotter one that isn’t on the menu.  In between there you have "Sassy" (classic) and "3.5" which I still can’t figure out what it means.  You can also get a 3.25 which is the Sassy and 3.5 sauces mixed to tone it down a bit.  I got the 3.5 sauce and while it had a really good kick (by the end of the plate I needed a break to let things cool down a bit) they weren’t overpoweringly spicy to the point of ruining the flavor.  There’s a lot going on in the sauce and you don’t want to miss it. 

One hint for the Wendell virgins – the wings arrive in a bowl, with a second empty bowl turned on top.  They shake the wings to coat them like this and if you want some extra sauce, give them a shake yourself so that it all doesn’t go to the bottom.

Overall, the wings were cooked really well, the flavor was great and the atmosphere isn’t fancy at all.  But for wings and a beer, it is a great place – and is close to the Tweeter Center (Great Woods!) in Mansfield, which means it could be a new favorite destination pre (or maybe even post) concert.


P.S. We were there for a friend’s birthday, so here’s a shout-out: Happy Birthday Austin!

Friday’s “Wicked Wings”

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for Chinese food (okay – "Chinese-American" food), especially teriyaki or soy sauce flavored chicken.  Friday’s has some new boneless "Wicked Wings" that are available in buffalo and Kung Pow styles.  I haven’t had the buffalo yet, but I’ve had the Kung Pow twice in the last few months and they are pleasantly addictive if hardly haute cuisine.  But this is a buffalo wing blog, so what do you care about haute cuisine?

The tender chunks of chicken are heavily coated and fried until extra crisp, reminiscent of a good General Tso’s chicken, and then coated in a thick, sweet, tart and soy-heavy sauce, then sprinkled with sesame seeds.  The flavor is salty, sweet, and tangy, and quite satisfying.  A nice touch is that they give you extra sauce on the side so that you can adjust the amount of sauce to your liking. My only complaint is that they are served on a bed of finely shredded lettuce which sticks all over the place.

RATING: 3 out of 5 stars 

Felt – Boston MA

First of all, let me assure everyone that life hasn’t been so bad that I haven’t had buffalo wings since September.  Just been a tad busy…  But I do have a few things to catch up on.

First up, before going to the Nutcracker a few weeks ago, we stopped for dinner at Felt, a nightclub/restaurant in Boston, and got just what we wanted – a nice selection of appetizers that were quick to arrive.  Among them were their "Inferno Wings" which thoroughly satisfied my wing jonesing. 

While I’m not sure if they were up to the level of "inferno" they were definitely above average in heat, and had plenty of sauce, some extra served on the side, and were nicely cooked – crispy and throughly cooked.  A nice touch was that the sauce had a nice texture to it that stuck well to the wings.

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars