Wings & Things
230 Thompson St.
New York, NY 10012
This was another lunch time mission for me. I've pretty much been given the responsibility to take care of as many NYC wing joints as I can, so I grabbed a work buddy and we headed off to The Village. We got to Pluck U. and it was a total dive - small, dirty and awesome. I was pumped. There were "Best Wings in NYC" awards hanging all over the place and I felt like we were on to something. Apparently they had the highest rated wings in NYC six years running. So were my hopes high? Abso-plucking-lutely.
You have to love the story behind this place. It's the age old fairy tale of two friends in college turning down lucrative offers after graduation to start a less than prestigious business venture - and succeeding. I also love the menu. It is full of all kinds of combo meals - 5 wings, fries and a drink ($6.50), 10 wings, fries and a drink ($9.85), etc. Unfortunately, this is where my troubles began.
They have a decent variety of flavors (mild, medium, hot, death, BBQ, honey mustard, gold and 0 carb [huh?]) and I wanted to at least give two of them a try. I asked the woman at the counter if I could break the 10 wing combo into two portions of five. When she told me I couldn't do that, I said I would take the 5 wing combo with an extra order of 5 wings. Thinking back now, it makes no sense that I can order two separate orders of 5, but not break the 10 wing combo in half - but whatever. The woman was friendly enough and wanted to save me some money, I guess. She tried persuading me into an order of 10 wings, dry, with the sauces on the side (which was just over a dollar cheaper than my 5 plus 5 idea). I had a bad feeling about it but she was very persistent. Add that to the language barrier and the fact that I wasn't really sure what she was doing at the time and... well, I got a little flustered and went with her suggestion. It would prove to be a huge mistake - one demerit for me. My order: 10 wings dry with a side of hot sauce and honey mustard, fries and a coke.
Nice lady, but her effort to save me a buck and change came back to bite me.
We got back to the office and I got down to business. I separated my wings into two groups of five, poured the sauce on and gave them a toss - still confused as to why they couldn't do it in the kitchen. First up, the hot. I took a bite and... what the pluck? Is this - ? No, can't be. Another bite. Yup... tastes like ketchup! Who does that? I'll tell you who does that, Johnny Famous. And if you've been following along at home, you know we've got a saying: "At least they're not Johnny Famous bad" (or something like that). Well these were, in fact, Johnny Famous bad. But it gets worse. While Johnny Famous had the worst sauce we came across, they were cooked alright. The worst cooked wing award, so far, goes to CJ Sullivan's. Pluck U wings were not cooked as poorly as Sullivan's wings, but they were damn close - totally dried out and crispy. So I'd actually describe these as a combo of the two worst wings we've had so far. The sauce wasn't as bad as Johnny Famous, and they weren't as dry as Sullivan's but put them both together and it's just a sorry wing.
On to the honey mustard. It's almost impossible for me to even review these. First of all, they only gave me one little cup of sauce. Again, I'm the idiot who caved and got the sauces on the side but come on. You have to at least give enough to give the wings a nice coat. I ended up eating half of them dry. It wouldn't even make sense to critique the sauce anyway. It's not like they made it. It came in a little Ken's Steakhouse Dressing container.
Overall, I thought Pluck U had a resemblance to Atomic Wings. Take-out/delivery spot catering specifically to wing lovers and serving mediocre poultry. I'd definitely put Pluck U a rung under Atomic Wings though, mostly due to the awful hot sauce. The fries were actually pretty decent though. And walking from Soho to The Village on a nice day is always a good way to spend a few minutes. Maybe it was just me though. What about my co-worker, Chris? He actually sent me this email right after he finished:
fries- not bad
walk-well worth it"
To which I replied:
"couldn't agree with you more. did your sauce taste like spicy ketchup?"
He followed with:
"YES!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn't put my finger on what it was but that's exactly it."
Ok, so it wasn't just me then. But now the real question is, who the hell gave these guys the "Best Wings in NYC" award? Six years in a row! I bet they don't even make the best wings on Bleecker St. So would I recommend this place, or even go back to give them a chance at redemption? Pluck no!
Yup, that's all the sauce they gave me to coat 10 wings.