January 09, 2012

Cornerstone Pub

Cornerstone Pub
288 Jericho Turnpike
Mineola, NY 11501

In what was the first group Wingmen outing of 2012, Jody and I met up at Cornerstone Pub in Mineola for some wings and camaraderie, oh, and a few pints of beer. Jeremy was unable to attend and was sorely missed.

Cornerstone is a neighborhood bar where locals seem to gather, yet has a very comfortable feel for a couple of outsiders. The menu is full of the typical pub grub fare making it a great place to stop after work and grab some apps or even a burger. The bar is stocked with plenty of liquor and has a decent selection of beers on tap. Want to have some fun? Well Cornerstone has a juke box, pool table and darts, so there is plenty to do while knocking back a beer or three. They also have skee ball, but more on that later.

Just a lovely spread, don't you think?

We ordered their hot wings, teriyaki wings and jalapeño poppers. Their hot wings were a nice variation on the clarified butter and hot sauce recipe. The sauce was reduced, a step, as Jody points out, many other kitchens don't normally take. Reduction is a technique that thickens a sauce, intensifying the flavors by boiling it down in an uncovered pot. Crushed red pepper was added to the sauce making these wings very spicy and extremely flavorful.

Hot Wings

The teriyaki wings also had a very tasty, reduced sauce with the perfect combination of salty and sweet. Both Jody and I were very happy with the way the wings were cooked, juicy on the inside with a decent crisp on the outside, as well as with the size of the wings. No complaints at all with the wings. They also have BBQ wings, but I'm not a big fan of BBQ and Jody agreed not to order them.

Teriyaki Wings
We also grabbed an order of jalapeño poppers, made with cheddar. Hey, even the Wingmen want to try something other than wings once in a while. They were a nice change of pace, and create an interesting question for the comments, Facebook and Twitter: how do you like your jalapeño poppers, with cheddar or with cream cheese?

Cheddar or Cream Cheese?

I said we'd get back to the skee ball topic and here it is, Jody and I played 2 games each in order to see who the skee ball champ of the night would be, here's how it broke down:

230- Steve Game 1      240- Jody Game 1
280- Steve Game 2      320- Jody Game 2
510- Steve Total           560- Jody Total: WINNER

It kills me to admit this, but Jody is the superior skee ball player. He even called a 100 point shot with his last ball in the second game. What a dick.

I owe Jody a beer since I lost.

August 09, 2011

The Library Cafe

The Library Cafe
274 Main Street
Farmingdale, NY 11735

Also located on Main Street in Farmingdale, The Library Cafe has been around for about a decade and has been serving up good food, better drinks and a city-like atmosphere for suburban Long Island.  Owned by Lessing's, the folks that catered my wedding and also run Maxwell's, The Library has a great feel to it and seems to be a hotspot for people who work in the area to come to for happy hour or nightly specials. The Library Cafe got its name from it's building, which was build as a bank and then converted to a library in the 1950s and eventually into the restaurant in 2000.

I grabbed a seat at the bar and quickly noticed that Lessing's has their own beer on tap, Lessing's Local Ale, and I had to try one.  It is brewed by Blue Point Brewing Company and is a smooth and robust beer that if  I had a few bucks more in my pocket, I'd have brought home a growler ($20).
Lessing's Local Ale
Knowing I was having dinner too, I grabbed the small order of wingshalf; hot and half teriyaki, which they don't normally do, but the bartender (Jimmy) was kind enough to ask for me.  The price was good, $8.95 for a pound and for an extra dollar, you get a half a pound more. The wings were solid with a lot of extra sauce for each flavor.  The hot had a good kick, were flavored well and got the nose a bit runny.  The bleu cheese helped.  The teriyaki were the perfect combination of salty and sweet with just the right amount of sticky.  All were crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and big.
Hot and Teriyaki Wings
What was I going to have for dinner? Shrimp po boy?  Marinated sliced steak sandwich? One of their 4 burgers? Spicy shrimp pad Thai? Blackened crab cake sandwich?  I couldn't decide. On Jimmy's suggestion, I went with the sliced steak sandwich with fries.  The sandwich was tender, cooked to perfection and stuffed with medium rare sliced steak, mozzarella cheese and fried onions.  It was the perfect ending to a long work day.  The waffle fries were also good.  Came with a pickle, which I can do without, but it is a nice gesture.

It still looks good... I want one now!
When it comes down to it, The Library Cafe has an amazing atmosphere, great drink and food specials, awesome wings, tasty food and is definitely Wingmen approved.

August 04, 2011

The Republic

The Republic
"Teach Tabhairne"
217 Main Street

Farmingdale, NY 11735

Although Main Street of Farmingdale, NY is not hurting for bars and pubs, a void did exist when Granny O'Shay's closed. Luckily for Farmingdale, the loss of the Irish pub would be short-lived. The Republic opened just about a year ago and has quickly become a local hangout.  With a solid menu, tons of beer on tap, a rotating beer menu and an outdoor patio, The Republic is a great place to hang out after work or chill for the evening.
The current line-up
I showed up one day after work craving some wings and a burger. That is why I love pubs/bars, they almost always have wings and burgers, and for the most part, they are always good.  After checking out the menu, I was astounded by how much food they offered and the interesting takes they offer on Irish and American fare. From Irish nachos to drunken shrimp, and macaroni and cheese stuffed meatloaf to shepard's pie, there will always be something interesting to try.
Hot Wings
I ordered the traditional buffalo flavored wings. They also have an Irish Whiskey BBQ flavor, but as you know from past reviews, I just don't like BBQ. A few things hit me right away when they got to my table, 1- They smelled hot. 2- they were all wings, no drumsticks.  I have never seen that before. And 3- they came with ranch dressing even though the menu says they are served with bleu cheese.  Upon trying them I noticed a few other things.  They were not very crispy and the sauce mixture was a touch off, almost as if they added too much salted clarified butter. The salty flavor was a bit overwhelming, and really made them hard to eat. I truly think it was just an off night because I could taste a hint of the hot sauce and with more of that and a bit less salted butter, I am sure they would have been much better. Fix the mixture, fry them another minute and I think they would have been great.
The Republic Burger with Sweet Potato Tater Tots
On the other hand, the burger I had was very good.  The Republic Burger has bacon, Irish cheddar, Irish whiskey BBQ sauce and onion strings loaded on top of a 1/2 lb. ground sirloin patty and is served with tater tots.  This was the highlight of the night.  The tater tots, on the other hand, were a bit disappointing to me and me alone.  I am not a fan of sweet potatoes, and these tots were sweet potato tots.  If you like sweet potatoes, then these will be awesome for you.  They did taste like mini churros, with cinnamon bursting out of every bite.  Worth a try.

The Republic wings deserve another try before a final judgement can be made, but with their beer selection and awesome menu of Irish-American food, it won't be hard convincing the other Wingmen to join me for a final assessment.

So... if you go to their website, you'll notice a fascination with Guinness; I had to have one.
Just plain beautiful

August 02, 2011

Sapsuckers Hops & Grill

Sapsuckers Hops & Grill
287 Main Street
Huntington, NY 11743

One of the newest bars in Huntington Village, NY, Sapsuckers has quickly become a local favorite with their craft beer selection, variety of top shelf liquor options and gastro-pub style cuisine.

My wife and I found ourselves here on her suggestion.  She, being the Wingmen supporter she is, and knowing my love for craft beer, had heard about this place from a co-worker and figured I'd want to give it a try.  She was right, as always.

Two Brothers Witbier
I was initially struck by the ornitholigical theme to the place (a sapsucker being a woodpecker common to the northeast), complete with lithographs of birds on the wall and a field guide, not to the birds of the area, but to BEER!  A clever touch to a subtle theme.  The beer selection, which includes cans, bottles and the tap, is extensive and the field guide does help. I had the Two Brothers Witbier and my wife had the Steigl, which is a lager.
Very small wings, big taste
We ordered the wings, which were pricey at $8 for 6 small wings.  They were lightly breaded and were generously coated in hot sauce, served with thin strips of celery and a gorgonzola dipping sauce.  Despite their size, they were cooked well, spiced well and a great start to our meals.  The gorgonzola dipping sauce was a nice variation on the typical bleu cheese, and had a salty and sharp flavor that complimented the wing sauce.

As for our meals, she had the nachos which were loaded with goodies and I had the Sardinian Style Dog, which is wild boar sausage loaded with caramelized onions.  The meals, reasonably priced were very good and are different from anything else you'll find on Main Street in Huntington Village.
Sardinian Style Dog
With the price of the wings for what you get, it's hard to say Sapsuckers is approved for their wings alone, but as an interesting craft beer bar with unique food and great atmosphere, the Wingmen approve the restaurant as a whole.

July 28, 2011

Product Review: Michele's Buffalo Supreme Popcorn

Michele's Totally Awesome Gourmet Popcorn
PO Box 1662
Concord, NH 03302-1662

Jody and I were at a Yankees game a few months back when Rebecca P., one of the Wingmen faithful, contacted us about a product she wanted us to try.  Despite my stupidity about what she meant by "mail you something to try" (see our Facebook page for the comment on April 27, 2011 for what I mean), she was able to ensure that a large bag of Buffalo Supreme popcorn arrived for us to review.

That's a big bag o'popcorn!
Michele's Totally Awesome Gourmet Popcorn operates out of Concord, NH, and was founded by Michele and Dave Holbrook in 2007. This family-run business is not only an American phenomenon, but has been shipping globally too.  Michele's offers twenty flavors of popcorn that include Cookies-n-Cream, Peanut Butter Cup, Caramel Apple, Garlic &Rosemary, Cajun BBQ, Dark Chocolate Orange and many others.  Their fresh, sweet, savory and deluxe flavors of popcorn were selected for the Official SWAG Bags of the 37th Annual Daytime and Sports Emmy Award Shows of 2010.
The popcorn arrived with a note that says "The Wingmen, Rebecca P. wanted you to give this a try. Let us & her know what you think. Michele" so here it goes: upon opening the bag, the aroma of buffalo wings fills your nose making you think a fresh plate of wings has just arrived at your table.  As you take a bite, the flavor of hot sauce and butter fill your mouth and before you know it, your nose is running from the heat.  This popcorn is spicy!  It was everything I could do to stop myself from eating the whole bag.  The buffalo blend seasoning captures the wing flavor quite well and the canola oil seems to act like the clarified butter.  The only thing missing is a bleu cheese drizzle, which I can make happen with a quick drive to the supermarket!

Check out Michele's by heading to www.michelesweetshoppe.com or by visiting them on Facebook.  Michele's Totally Awesome Gourmet Buffalo Supreme Popcorn is Wingmen approved!  I can't wait to try some of the other flavors... Cajun BBQ has piqued my interest.

Thanks Rebecca P. and Michele for the support!

July 26, 2011

Black Forest Brew Haus

Black Forest Brew Haus
Microbrewery & Restaurant
2015 New Highway
Farmingdale, NY 11735

Hidden, secluded, and off the beaten path are just a few ways to describe Black Forest Brew Haus. Nestled off New Highway in Farmingdale, NY, both Jeremy and I passed it two or three times before we actually found it.  Unassuming from the outside, Black Forest is one of the best kept secrets that Farmingdale has to offer.

Pub grub? Check. American fare? Check. German food? Check. In house brewery? Check! Yes, you read correctly. Black Forest is a German-American restaurant that has its own brewery.  You will only find their beer on tap and the selection is good enough for the pickiest beer drinkers. There is a Pilsner, an Amber, a Hefe-Weizen (my favorite), a Sticke and they have seasonal brews like the Summer Ale and Chocolate Doppelbock to name a few. Can't make up your mind? Order the sampler and when you find your favorite, bring home a growler ($12).

Black Forest Chocolate Doppelbock

But this is a wing site, so let's get to why you read this blog. Jeremy and I decided to split the hot wings. One plate, and before you accuse us of being panty-waists, we were getting dinner too. We ordered and as we spoke to Jamie, the bartender, he said that we should have ordered the wing sampler (Spicy hot, honey BBQ, and sweet & spicy wings). Jeremy and I looked at each other, shook our heads and then lowered them in shame. How could we miss the sampler? Jody will be very disappointed.
Not the sampler... oops.
The wings came out and the first thing we noticed was the smell of heat. You know what I am taking about, that smell that singes your nose and settles in the back of your throat letting you know something spicy comes your way. Once we got passed that initial "warning," Jeremy and I dug in to our dozen wings.

Black Forest does not stray from the tried and true method of cooking buffalo wings. Clarified butter, hot sauce and a deep fryer.  The flavor was well balanced, the wings were crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and were everyone one wants from a wing.  Spicy enough to make you reach for your beer, tasty enough to make you reach for another one and filling enough to whet your appetite for whatever you'll be having next.

Black Forest has some great specials and happy hours, so check out their website for upcoming events.  Friday nights are dueling piano nights and that starts at 9pm; you don't want to miss that. We didn't get all the details, but there is a beer stein culture here as well.  I suggest asking about it when you are enjoying your Black Forest Burger or Sauerbraten. they also have a beer garden for outside drinking and dining.

Potato Pancake with Applesauce- German staple
When it comes down to it, Black Forest Brew Haus is a great restaurant with solid food, fresh tasty beer and very good wings.  Black Forest, you're Wingmen approved!

May 18, 2011

Blackbird's in Astoria

41-19 30th Ave.
Astoria, NY 11103

This trip started with an email I got from our correspondent in the field, BJ:
"Meant to text you yesterday, but I went for a nice long walk yesterday, ended up at a place called Blackbirds, solid place, nice, laid back (at least during the weekend/day), also there was a really cute bartender, she looked like a redheaded Amy Poehler. 
Anywhoozles, she and a couple of patrons told me that they believe the wings there are the best in NY.  I said, “Best in NY?  That’s bold, are you sure you don’t mean best in NYC or Queens or Astoria?”  They assured me that they meant best in NY.  So, challenge thrown down…"
I agreed. That's a mighty bold statement. To say you not only have the best wings in NYC, but all of New York is pretty gutsy. You don't need me to tell you that Buffalo, home of the hot wing, the Mecca, falls into this jurisdiction. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the magnitude of this claim. For me, if you're saying you have the best wings in all of New York, you might as well be saying you have the best wings in the country. And if you're saying that, you might as well be saying you have the best wings in the world. Wow. Could it be possible that the best wings on the face of the planet were right under our noses in Astoria? Obviously I assembled a team to find out.

Original tipster, BJ, fellow food blogger, Lee (2plus2 NYC Review) and I met at Blackbirds on a Wednesday night. Wednesdays are great because they have half priced wings and four dollar draught beers served in mason jars. Already I liked their style. Bring on the wings. As per usual, the BBQ did nothing for me. I had to test them out though, for science. They were just your typical, sweet, slighlty tangy wing that I've never been too fond of. I will say though that there was a nice coat of sauce, so if you're into BBQ there's a good chance you'll like these.

They also offer mild, hot and Nuclear. Since BJ is a huge wuss and can't take the heat, we ended up going with mild. These were solid. The flavor was a very traditional hot sauce and butter concoction. It was a bit tangy, which I like, a tad salty, which I also like and, considering we ordered mild, there was a decent amount of heat. It was still enough to make BJ sweat, although he'd break a sweat if we replaced the sauce with ketchup so I don't know if that's saying much.

In general, the wings were cooked pretty well with a great crisp but they were a little on the skimpy side. The flavors were solid but nothing ground breaking. Would I eat them again? Absolutely. Were they the best wings ever known to mankind? Probably not. Blackbirds was a pretty cool place though with a good beer selection and friendly service. Plus I always like hanging out in that part of Astoria. I can recommend it as a good place to meet up with some friends and catch up over a cold beer and some wings while watching the game.