It’s not that I consider myself a connoisseur of hot wings, but I know what I like when I taste them. Lately, it’s been a struggle to find hot wings in my local area which are worthy enough of my precious dollars spent. Case in point…last night I joined a couple of my beleaguered medical comrades for an evening of spicy wings & beer at our newest local wingery, Hooters. Now, I’m going to rant & rave a little bit, and not just about my experience last night…but about the piss-poor options in general for spicy wings, unless I make them myself of course.
Anyhoo, we stopped in last night and ordered the “911″ wings, supposedly their hottest wings. Now, Hooters’ wings are breaded and it’s more challenging to make breaded wings spicy because the breading has the tendency to tone the heat down. These were a little overcooked, and didn’t even look or smell that hot. My friend Josh, a self-professed Hooters veteran, stated that 911 wings should be glistening, very red, and you should usually notice that the waitress won’t be able to breathe near them due to the spicy fumes. These wings had none of the above qualities, and probably were no more than “hot” (2 rungs down the heat scale) despite claims by the manager that they were definitely the 911 heat level. Sure, Hooters has got all the things I want for comfort…good beer, good food, TV’s with sports on it everywhere you look, and tastefully-clad waitresses willing to flirt to make their tips better…but their hot wings ain’t so hot. More research is needed, tho. Perhaps the cook was having an off night, since the place was newly opened.
Despite a flurry of well-placed TV and radio commercial professing the quality of their wings, the BW3 hot wings just tend to be sorely lacking in real heat. We’ve bitched about this in a couple of posts, one back from August 2005 and another in March of 2006. Their wings are non-breaded, unlike Hooters. Usually they’re fairly tasty, but even when I’ve mentioned to the waitress that their hot wings weren’t that hot the last time I ordered, they still come out pretty lame in the heat dept. Perhaps they’ve had complaints about their hot being too hot so they tone it down for most people. Perhaps they just suck. Who knows? All I know is that they are now way down the list of places I want to stop & eat when I want spicy wings.
Quaker Steak & Lube (aka “The Lube”) has presented something of a dichotomy in quality. I had their wings quite a bit when I was up in the Cleveland, OH area as a medical student. Their hottest wings, the Atomic, are indeed hot & tasty. Once you go down from there, the taste quality lags a little. Unless I’m in the mood to hurt my heat sensors a little, I usually eat the Suicide wings (30,00 SHU) and am normally pretty pleased. Here in Columbus, our one Lube location has shown pretty spotty quality in their wing-making, though. The sauces are still good in quality, but they seem to overcook their wings and I’m usually in no mood to bitch about by the time they have finally reached my plate. That may be my fault for not saying anything, but overcooked wings and mediocre service has made for not too many trips to The Lube recently. They’ve got potential because their wing sauces are good, but it doesn’t help if they don’t make ‘em well in the kitchen. I’m sure I’ll go back, but not any time real soon.
Amongst the company mentioned above, Cluck-U is the gem of the bunch. We first tried their wings while living in Baltimore, MD, where Cluck-U is a staple of the college crowd and is located near a few of them. Their hot wings are usually sinfully good and can be really damn HOT. Their hottest heat level, the 911 I believe, is one of those where you have to sign a waiver attesting to your stupidity and/or lack of mental soundness in wanting to punish your tongue and intestinal tract with that kind of heat. I’ve had the 911 in both their wings and boneless wingers, and the taste & heat is all that and a bag of chips. However, here in Columbus their store is inconveniently located, has weird weekend hours, and their wings haven’t been cooked 100% right either. Like I said, it’s the cream of the crop here…but not to the quality I’ve had back in MD. Unlike the others, I’d still gladly go there for wings, but I hate wondering whether or not they’ll be as good as I remember from previous visits.
The moral of the story? If I want my wings spicy & well-made, it usually means that I have to break out the ol’ deep-fryer and make them myself. Adding a little of the Nate Dog wing sauces by CaJohn or some of the DefCon 1 sauce from DefCon Sauces will usually do the trick. Yeah, it makes a mess…but sometimes these are the sacrifices we have to make for good, spicy hot wings.