September 22, 2010

Our Top 5

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Yes, this is what happens when you have a site run by a bunch of dudes... we forget anniversaries and birthdays, even our own.  Our first post went up on July 16th, 2009.  We wanted to have some sort of event to celebrate. Maybe take over a bar and have wing and beer specials all night.  Well, our birthday came and went.  We didn't even realize it until the guys at Our List asked to interview us for our one year mark.  There were no parties, no cakes, no streamers.

However, we did manage to come up with our lists of top 5 wing joints. These lists (we each came up with our own) are not meant to be the be-all-end-all.  They're more of a conversation starter.  As you can see, we rarely even agree with each other so, chances are, you guys may have some discrepancies as well.  Feel free to pass along your top choices.  There are still thousands of places dishing out wings that we haven't visited yet.  If you don't see your favorite on any of our lists, most likely we haven't been there yet... Either that, or you have terrible taste in wings.

So, without further ado (or any fanfare), I give you our lists - year one edition:


Jeremy:

1.  O'Neills, Maspeth, Queens.  Bar/restaurant offers a wide variety such as honey mustard, jack daniels, traditional-mild, medium, hot, garlic butter, cajun, teriyaki, and some more but drawing a blank.  Good meat to bone ratio and the sauces are excellent.  Decent service, great atmosphere.  Offers valet parking.  4 dollar plates for 10 wings on Monday nights.

2.  Hooters, Anywhere.  Hot 911 flavor.  Can't go wrong.  Sauce is excellent, excellent meat to bone ratio.  Atmosphere is unbeatable. A little pricey and obviously there are a ton of locations.  Gives you the option of going naked and east meadow hosts western wednesdays.

3. Candlelight, Scarsdale, NY.  Wings come conjoined.  Not breaded.  Hot sauce has a lot of kick but not anything that would hinder you from eating only hot in abundance.  Service is so-so and the joint is kind of hole-ish.  Bit of a dive, but I like that.  No specials that I can speak of and the prices are decent.

4.  Longhorns, Rockville Center.  Chipotle BBQ.  Meat was abundant as well as enough crisp on the outside with excellent moisture inside.  Flavor had a kick to it as well.  Actually went back to have the wife try and they were given the thumbs up.  Atmosphere was cool.  Kind of a texas thing going on and the service was great.

5.  Hurricane Wings, Port Jeff Station.  Ridiculously Hot.  The hottest I've had so far.  Only ordered and ate six and paid for it the next day.  Even saw one of my buddies try one, turned red and threw the towel in.  Great service, decent prices but were always running out of beers.  Meat isn't as abundant as the rest but it didn't matter.  Anything larger would have killed me.


Jody:

1. Blind Tiger Ale House - West Village, NYC
The only thing keeping these from being the perfect wing is a little crisp - they're baked.  They've got great flavor, moist and tender meat and just the right amount of kick.  Probably my favorite so far.

2. Mike's Place Too - Mastic, NY
These could just as easily been my top choice.  They're actually very similar to Blind Tiger plus they have the crisp.  The only thing they're missing is the kick.  If I could just mix the two together.  Special mention to Grumpy Jacks and Coach's Corner.  All three locations had the same recipe at one time or another.  We have plans to visit Grumpy's soon. Maybe they'll make the 2nd Anniversary list.

3. Mooncake Foods - Soho, NYC
These wings are unlike any other I've had.  Like all of Mooncake's dishes, the Asian inspired flavors are infused into the meat and somehow makes it seem as if you're tasting it from the inside out - if that makes any sense. They are huge, meaty and come conjoined.  Definitely an under appreciated wing.

4. Virgil's Real Barbecue - Times Square, NYC
I have finally turned over a new leaf and can appreciate a good BBQ wing, and I have Virgil's to thank for it.  These are the real deal, no overly sweet and sticky, ketchup based sauces here.  They're slow smoked to perfection and rubbed with a mixture of spices to compliment but not overpower the BBQ sauce.  I'm sure there are people out there that will say Dinosaur BBQ or Blue Smoke is better.  Well, I haven't been to either of those yet so Virgil's is the default king of BBQ... so far.

5. Black Rock Tavern - Yaphank, NY
Just a towny bar in a small town, cooking wings the right way.  They're simple, but good and can be made to order.  This was one of my favorite spots of the last year for a basic, traditional, Buffalo style chicken wing.  I'm sure there are many that can compete for the final spot here, but Black Rock just stands out to me so I'm giving it to them.

Honorable Mention: Cabo, Bourbon Street, Canz, 1849, PJ Carney's.


Steve:

1- Nicky's of Centerport: Centerport, NY
When it comes down to making buffalo wings, you can do no better than Nicky's.  They are piping hot, cooked to perfection, drenched in sauce and spiced perfectly... not too mild, not too hot, just plain old perfect.  To top that off, it is just a completely local and welcoming bar that is full of characters and just plain great people.  They are famous for their wings, but you'll go back for the company.

2- Bourbon Street: Bayside, NY
If you are looking for some New Orleans inspired cuisine, Bourbon Street is the place for you.  They have Cajun just about everything and the wings are no exception.  They take your traditional buffalo wing sauce and spice it up with some traditional Cajun spice.  The mixture of hot sauce, butter, salt and Cajun spices are phenomenal and you won't be sorry you ordered them.

3- Lisa's Buffalo Grille: Greenlawn, NY
Lisa's would be higher on my list if the wings were bigger.  Their hot sauce is amazing and super spicy, the honey mustard is great, teriyaki is salty, sweet and close to perfection and the Cajun wings are a great change from sauced wings.  They have an amazing dry rub on them that has my wife asking me to get wings a lot more than before she tired them.  I'm not complaining.

4- Brian Dempsey's: Bayside, NY
This was our go-to place before we started this project and always worth a trip on Wednesday Nights, which is Wing Night.  $00.20 wings and $3.00 pints of domestic beers.  Their wing sizes vary from week to week, which dropped them in my list, but the hot wings are usually some of the best in Bayside and the teriyaki are also forces to be reckoned with.  They even have a good BBQ wing, which is strange because I really don't like BBQ sauces.  The service even seems to have picked up a bit lately.

5- Cabo: Rockville Centre, NY
At the suggestion of Jimmy Junior on our Facebook page, Jody and I checked out this place and we were impressed.  The sauce they use was nothing we have ever tried before and the wings they serve are huge.  The sauce is a tamarind and pepper blend that melds sweet and spicy in a tropical way that has a late burn to your mouth which is soothed by the tropical tamarind fruit flavor.  Completely intriguing flavors in a pretty cool restaurant.

Honorable mentions- Longhorns- RVC, Barefoot Peddler- Greenvale, Miller's Ale House- Levittown, Cavanaugh's- Bluepoint

September 19, 2010

Blind Tiger Ale House

281 Bleecker St.
New YorkNY 10014
Website 

Craving wings, but running out of places to try in SoHo, I took advantage of the nice weather and crossed Houston St. into the West Village (along with my co-worker, Chris).  I've heard of Blind Tiger Ale House a few times on various "best of" lists so I've wanted to try them for a while.  This microbrewery has a cool old school vibe accentuated by the use of wood from a 19th century farm house (according to this article in New York magazine).  It's really cozy, the type of place you enjoy spending some time in.

... and the bottles.
The chalk board menu
for draught beers...
Luckily for us, when we ordered we were told the wings were baked, not fried, so they were going to take a little while to prepare.  It was clear by the boards posted on the walls that there was an outstanding selection of beers.  Since I'm always a fan of making a slightly negative situation positive, we decided to sample some of the brews.  They have over 30 rotating beers on tap and an almost countless amount by the bottle.  I decided to spend my wait with the Alagash White.



After about a half an hour, the wings came out.  They absolutely lived up to the hype and were worth the wait.  Obviously, since they are baked, they are not going to have that crispiness that we usually demand of a wing.  This would be the only negative though and I was happy to make an exception.  Baking does give you a nice and tender meat though, and these were fall of the bone tender.  The flavor was pretty unique, although there were some similarities to Mike's Place wings (which are right around the top of my list).  Maybe it was Italian dressing?  What separated it from Mike's though, was a nice smokey flavor - probably chipotle.  They also had a nice, creeping kick.  It doesn't get you right away, but the heat does sneak in and kick you in the mouth after a minute or two.  To me, this was an exceptional blend of flavor and spice.  The sauce was "suck-off-the-bone" good.  I'd probably drink it out of a cup.  Well, probably not.  But still, it's really tasty.  

So, head-to-head, I'd give Mike's the advantage in crispiness while Blind Tiger gets the nod in heat and a slight edge in flavor.  Did Blind Tiger Ale House just knock Mike's Place Too off the top of my list?  Hm, I think they did.

September 10, 2010

Press 195


Press 195
40-11 Bell Blvd.
Bayside, Queens 11360
718-281-1950

It was the Monday before the National Buffalo Wing Festival in Buffalo NY, and Jody and I needed to get together to discuss details about travel, itinerary and iPod playlists for the drive up.  Instead of just meeting at one of our homes, we decided to make it a working review... which is kind of like saying we were doing work while we worked.  A bit redundant, but it was just that.  So we met at Press 195 in Bayside, NY, ordered a couple of Allagash White beers and took a look at the menu.

Press 195 has two flavors; buffalo and BBQ.  We decided quickly that BBQ was not happening and went with the large order of buffalo wings.  For $8.00 you get a normal order and for $15, you get a large order.  The large had about 16 wings, making them just under a dollar per wing.  We also placed ordered up some french fries.  Press has amazing french fries and they have homemade dipping sauces as well.  More on that later.

Large order of wings... about a buck a wing.
The wings came out and smelled delicious.  The sauce did not disappoint.  It was a very well concocted version of the traditional buffalo wing sauce which includes butter and hot sauce.  Jody, on his trip to the little boy's room, a bottle of Frank's Red Hot sauce in the kitchen, making this sauce as traditional as it gets. Press 195 did add a nice amount of heat to these wings, I am assuming cayenne pepper was their weapon of choice since it seems to be the standard for spicing up the traditional buffalo sauce.

So, if they smelled good and the sauce was good, what was wrong with them?  Well, they were a bit inconsistent in size, making them a bit inconsistent in how well they were cooked.  The larger wings had a nice crisp on the outside, but juicy on the inside, making them delicious. The smaller wings, on the other hand, which probably cooked just as long as the large wings, were a bit overcooked which robbed them of their juicy cores.  Having about eight wings each, we may have had 2 or 3 over cooked wings each, which is not horrible, but not great either.

Let's rearrange the alphabet and put 
U and I together. Oh yeah!

As you can see by the above picture, the sure do make some good looking Belgian fries.  I mean, if I were at a bar and saw those fries, I'd do a shot, walk up to the bar, order the fries a drink and do my best to get their number.  I'd probably strike out, but hell, just telling my buddies that I tried with something that hot and failed, now that would be a great story.  They taste better than they look too.  Hand cut, double cooked, seasoned perfectly and served with your choice of dipping sauces ($.75 each), these were worth the trip alone.  I took the picture before we threw the ketchup out.  Who needs ketchup when you have Chipotle Jalapeno Mayo (not pictured) and Traphagen's Honey Jalapeno Mustard?  Both sauces were amazing compliments to the fries and both had a nice spicy kick to them.  Try the fries when you go!

Press 195 is first and foremost a sandwich joint.  With 40 hot sandwiches, a bunch of cold sandwiches and burgers on the menu, Press will impress you with their gourmet selection.  I suggest getting fries every time you go, they are just that good.  The wings were not too bad either and I have to say, I would order them again.  They also have a very large selection of beer and they keep a lot of micro brewed beers on tap and bottled in stock, so step out of your comfort zone and try an Allagash or Magic Hat or even an Arrogant Bastard Ale.  Last thing I'll say is that the atmosphere is pretty cool as well.  It is not a sports bar and can seem a bit yuppie-ish from the paintings on the wall and modern feel, but they have a few TV's with the games of the evening playing, a very nice staff that is also very helpful and Elvis Costello on the radio and any place that plays "Veronica" is ok by me.

It is safe to say that Press 195 is Wingmen Approved!

This is why fruit-ing the beer is ok.  
This fry lived to see another day.

September 08, 2010

Irish Times

254 West 31 St.
New YorkNY 10001

Website
Last week, I was heading out of work and was in the mood to grab some wings.  I sent a text to one of my NYC correspondents, BJ, and we decided to give Brother Jimmy's a shot.  We took one step in, realized the place was mobbed and it was going to be tough to get food and walked right out.  So much for planning ahead... we scouted midtown for another spot.


Right up the road was a place called Irish Times (I wonder why no one has ever come up with that name for a bar before [sarcasm]).  The crowd was much more manageable so we decided to give it a go.  We ordered a plate of traditional Buffalo wings, which were their only choice, and got to work.  


Decent flavor, but 
rubbery and salty - Pass
The wings were a bit of a disappointment.  They weren't very big and had a rubbery texture.  The sauce was pretty standard and actually had a decent flavor, but was overwhelmingly salty.  I think this may have been a mistake because I can't imagine they serve wings like that on a consistent basis.  I'm thinking the salt was added afterwards and a line cook who might have been in a bit of a rush was a little too liberal with the shaker.


It was not a very good experience overall and we promptly moved on.  It's possible we caught them on an off day, but there are just too many promising wing joints in NYC to find out.  Maybe we should have just waited it out at Brother Jimmy's.

September 06, 2010

Ninety-Nine


Ninety "99" Nine
Restaurant & Pub
5 Salem Turnpike
Norwich, CT 06360
860-892-1299
www.99restaurants.com 
Map and Directions


           Last weekend, my wife and I ventured out to meet an old friend and her husband at their new home in Connecticut. Their house was built on her husband’s family land adjacent to the family cow farm just outside the town of Norwich. According to Wikipedia and I, Norwich was founded in 1658 by settlers from Old Saybrook led by Major John “I love wings” Mason and Reverend James “got saucy fingers” Fitch. They purchased the land that would become Norwich from the local Native American Mohegan Tribe in exchange for a satchel of wings and a coupon for all you can eat breakfast at Denny’s. By 1694 the public landing built at the head of the Thames River allowed ships to offload wings at the harbor. The harbor area is known as the Chelsea neighborhood. The distance between the port and Norwichtown was serviced by the East and West Roads which later became Washington Street and Broadway where you can find a variety of places that serve wings with all sorts of flavors (I totally made that up).


Ninety Nine Bar and Grill was founded in 1952 when Charlie Doe opened a pub at 99 State Street in Boston. In 1962, the restaurant left Boston, moving its main location to Woburn, which still stands. Over the next several decades, the chain expanded throughout Massachusetts as well as the New England area. Before my friend’s housewarming, my wife and I were starving and were actually looking for a diner. Sorry Norwich, didn’t see one. Really didn’t see much. The houses were beautiful and the town seemed nice, but there wasn’t much…..at least by NY standards. After going through a no go zone and almost crossing a bridge somewhat similar to the one from the Beetlejuice movie, we gave up and looked for the next thing we came across. Ninety-Nine Bar and Grill. The parking lot was filled and it was only noon. Figured it couldn’t be all that bad. I gave up on my hopes of eggs and pancakes and figured lets’ wing it up!


The restaurant, itself, was very nice in its d├ęcor. It was very western like. For those of you who remember Big Barry’s, it had that kind of atmosphere. The servers were as hospitable as could be and the environment was super friendly. Kind of nice having people smile at you and saying hello. The place seemed as if this is where you go before or after a service of some sort depending on your faith.


The menu was very similar to AppleBee’s or Chili’s. The variety in the wing selection was the same. You had the choice of either hot or mild on bone or boneless wings with an option of an extra-large order rather than the regular. I ordered the extra-large order of the hot wings but the waitress brought me the boneless. I was so hungry that I didn’t care. They were very good but not to the point where I would drive 3 hours to get them. The size of the boneless wings was substantial and the amount they gave you was more than enough for two people to share. The sauce caught up to you after a while and eventually made you sweat. Overall, they met my standards and I was able to walk away satisfied. If you’re ever in Norwich, check it out and tell them The Wingmen sent ya!

September 03, 2010

Cavanaugh's

Cavanaugh's
Restaurant and Pub
255 Blue Point Avenue
Blue Point, NY 11715
631-363-2666

Cruising the south shore of Long Island on a Friday morning traveling from one Long Island College to another doing a bit of non-Wingmen related research, I worked up a bit of an appetite.  I saw what looked like a cool place, called The Portly Villager, on the north side of Montauk Highway and decided to stop.  Well, they only serve sandwiches, so I was a bit out of luck.  The bar tender, Bob, told me that if I wanted good wings, I needed to head on down to Canavaugh's. A small pub with tons of TV's and serving up cold beer and pub grub. I ordered Cav's Chicken Wings ($7) and a Stella Artois. They seem to be the only flavor and only spice level, so we'll see how they taste.

A busy place at lunch, Cavanaugh's seems to have a very dedicated crowd that frequents this small Irish pub.  It seemed to me, even before I feasted on my wings, that Bob's suggestion was going to be a good one.  If you are a gambling person, well, there is plenty of it here: buy a Mega Millions or Powerball ticket, play Quick Draw or bet on some televised horse racing, you can do it all... you can even buy some scratch-offs if you'd like.  Not being much of a gambler, I was watching golf.

My 12 wings came with celery and bleu cheese, piping hot and sitting in a large reservoir of extra hot sauce at the bottom.  Before I bit into the first one, I took notice of the presentation.  Good sized wings cooked well and charred a bit on the outside edges.  They reminded me a lot of Mike's Place's wings. My first bite made me a very happy man.  The spice was non-existent, but the flavor was like a tidal wave of hot sauce, butter, spices and what I can best describe as Italian dressing.  I am not sure that is what is in there, but it was a tangy flavor with a lot of layers to it, so Italian dressing is my best description.  They were quite crispy, most of them had a good juicy core (some of the smaller ones were over cooked a bit) and then, couple those qualities with the char on the outside and one could argue that they were perfectly cooked.  

So, next time you are on the south shore and in the mood for wings, stop by Cavanaugh's and order a dozen.  They will be cooked well, served in a very tasty sauce and you'll be surrounded by good folks in a great bar.  Cavanaugh's is Wingmen Approved!  Try them out some time soon!

More please!

September 01, 2010

Eat Oceanside


Eat Oceanside
Busco's Deli & Catering
Busco's Gourmet & Kitchen
234 Merrick Road
Oceanside, NY 11572
www.EatOceanside.com
Maps and Directions

For some reason, this place seems to have three names, and it could have 33 names, it will not mask the fact that they had the worst wings I have ever eaten.  I am not exaggerating.  The worst.  Johnny Famous is gourmet and Redemption Grill has the Queen's royal cooks compared to how bad Eat's (Busco's) wings are.

I barely finished these disgusting hot wings
Butter, butter and more butter.  These hot wings were just poorly cooked wings drenched in butter and then spritzed with hot sauce.  I choked all six of them down because I was hungry and really wanted to like them.  They were soggy, they were slimy and they were disgusting.  I have to be honest here... I will never order them again.



Those three wings were never eaten
The teriyaki were even worse. What a waste of time, appetite and money. The sauce, first off, was a thick Peking style Mandarin flavored sauce, not a salty, soy sauce based teriyaki.  Secondly, it was also wretched. Sickly sweet, poorly cooked, and just plain bad.  I am not sure how they call it a teriyaki sauce.  I honestly did not finish these.  By the third one, I was so put off by the wings that I just packed them up and threw them away.


We order from Eat every so often from work and I know they have good salads and sandwiches.  What they don't have is good wings, they don't even have edible wings.  I will never order wings from here again, in fact, I don't think I will ever go back there again.  Eat Oceanside, definitely NOT Wingmen approved.  There are a lot of good wings out there, avoid this place at all costs.