Wing Review: Between the Buns

BtB Wings

Between the Buns is a great little local restaurant chain in the central-north Indiana area, known for it’s decor featuring the local sport teams from high school to college. They have always had a reputation for great food and strong drinks such as their Papa Smurf, of which customers are allowed a limit of two per sitting due to their alcohol content.

I always wanted to review the wings at Between the Buns, but they had traditionally been in a wing meal only and would limit the amount and number of sauces I could get them in. However, recently BtB decided to throw their hat into the local chicken wing special pool and now feature wings on Mondays for 39 to 49 cents (depending on the time of year).

With a small selection of flavors, they still have some unique ones. Here is my official review of BtB’s wings.

WING REVIEW (all scores out of 10):

Size: 9

These are among the bigger wings I’ve had, and they consist of plenty of meat. Usually I can down about 16 wings with no problem, but I ordered 12 and could only get through the first 7 in my initial sitting.

Texture: 9

They were as close to perfect as you could get without actually being perfect enough to call perfect. Maybe just a minute more in the fryer and they would have gotten that elusive “10.”

FLAVOR REVIEW:

Sweet BBQ: 9

I wasn’t sure what kind of barbecue sauce they used, or what kind of sweetening mixture for that matter, but the two flavors were blended together with immaculate consistency.

Cajun BBQ: 7

This was a new flavor that I hadn’t heard of from any wing place before, so of course I had to try it out. It consisted of wings in a Cajun dry rub then tossed in traditional barbecue sauce. The Cajun was a little rough and overpowering, but I really did like the concept of the blend.

Thai Chili: 8

I’m pretty sure that 90% of wing places in my area use the same exact commercial sauce for Thai chili wings, but it never seems to disappoint. I would have ranked this higher if it weren’t for the fact that it isn’t made in house, which actually is probably my fault for ordering. But oh well, I’m doing the wing review, which means I’m in charge. We don’t grade on a curve ’round hur.

OVERALL WING SCORE: 8.4

I’m really glad that Between the Buns is now an option for my poor self when I get my wing binge cravings, and I will be sure to utilize them in the future. For anyone in the Michiana area who hasn’t been to a BtB before, I suggest checking them out, even if you don’t get the wings.

Wing Review: Jay’s Lounge

Jay's Wings

Jay’s Lounge is a low-key bar in Niles, Michigan, popular among a middle-aged to older crowd of people who don’t care much about personal appearance. I’m not saying this place is dirty, it’s just really laid back and predominantly a redneck senior night. Every Wednesday however, an apocalypse of hungry people of all ages descends upon the establishment for their 25 cent wing night. At a price that low, these wings could completely suck and I would still eat them. Luckily, they aren’t half bad, and are definitely worth the price. Now that I’ve given them a compliment, let’s see what the judgmental food critic in me has to say.

WING REVIEW (all scores out of 10):

Size: 7

In years past, their wings had been pretty small, but upon my recent visits to Jay’s they have been big enough to satisfy my fat man’s appetite quite well.

Texture: 6

Cooked well, but sometimes the sauces are a little oily and acidic and seem to seep through the chicken skin if the wings not eaten in a short time after being served. This is especially evident in all sauces that are mixed with a hot sauce. Definitely better fresh than leftover.

FLAVOR REVIEW:

Spicy BBQ: 8

I love the taste of this sauce, and I would have likely rated it higher if only it actually had a bit more BBQ to it. Essentially just another hot sauce with a hint of hickory, but good nonetheless.

Caribbean Jerk: 9

Great flavor, and tastes exactly as advertised. I don’t really know what else to say except that I would positively recommend it.

Sweet Heat: 6

This is exactly one of those over-oily sauces I was referring to. It tastes ok, but whatever hot sauce mixture they use is basically pure liquid with little substance to it. If they made this sauce a bit thicker, the rating would be much higher.

OVERALL WING SCORE: 7.2

The Caribbean Jerk sauce helped saved Jay’s overall score from tanking, as I am strongly critical of having hot-flavored oil passed off as legitimate sauces. Still, for 25 cents apiece, this is one of the best deals in town and I will likely continue to take advantage of it for years to come.

Wing Review: Tilted Kilt

Tilted Kilt Wings

When you think of Tilted Kilt, the first thing that comes to mind is young, attractive, slutty (but usually nice) women wearing skimpy clothes. This thirst trap is so real that when they opened a location in Granger, Indiana, they basically stole half of the nearby Hooters’ staff and quickly put them out of business (and for this reason I will have to travel if I ever want to review Hooters’ wings). But in addition to flirtatious girls who get over-generous tips from lonely middle aged men, they actually serve some pretty good food. They changed up the night of their wing special on me three different times, but recently I finally got a chance to review their wings, which pleasantly left me very impressed. Almost as impressed as I was at how many women working at a single restaurant had tramp stamp tattoos.

WING REVIEW (all scores out of 10):

Size: 8

These wings were bigger this time around than they had been on my previous visits to Tilted Kilt, and I left my meal feeling full and satisfied.

Texture: 10

The perfect amount and consistency of sauce, combined with the perfect cooking time for the skin to be slightly crispy with the meat well moisturized. I tried to figure out a way to insert a sex joke in here but everything I came up with just sounded creepy.

FLAVOR REVIEW:

Guinness BBQ: 8

It was actually likely better than an “8” but it was kind of rich so personally I found it slightly overpowering in flavor. But if there’s anything I don’t really mind the overpowering flavor of, BBQ and beer would be it.

Kilt Burner: 10

This is a supposedly just Tilted Kilt’s own name for buffalo sauce, but the Kilt Burner was unlike any buffalo sauce I’ve ever had before. I honestly can’t put it in words, but it is as close to delicious perfection as I could ever dream a hot wing sauce to be. Considering I don’t even usually like buffalo sauce on it’s own, me giving it a rating of a 10 is basically a miracle. I highly recommend it.

TK Signature Sauce: 3

It was supposed to be their own version of “sweet and spicy,” but it honestly just tasted like sugar and vinegar. One of the worst sauces I had ever had. This sauce is going to severely hurt their otherwise radiantly positive wing score… Ouch.

OVERALL WING SCORE: 7.8

Had I switched out the TK Signature sauce for another, Tilted Kilt would probably have gotten my best score of all time, especially considering they were the first ever to be awarded perfect 10s in 2 separate categories. However, part of the challenge of my wing review is that any and all wings must be taken into consideration if I happen to order them. Improve or scratch that one flawed sauce and I would say that Tilted Kilt just may have the best wings in town.

Wing Review: O’Rourke’s Public House

O'Rourke's Wings

I’ve had very mixed feelings on O’Rourke’s wings since almost every time that I’ve had them they seemed drastically different. One time they were tiny, the next time they were huge, one time the boneless were better, and one time I didn’t even know if the boneless were made from real chicken. Fortunately for O’Rourke’s, I only base my review grades on the trip I take to intentionally review the wings, and this time they were actually on point. Let’s see how well they did according to my ranking system.

WING REVIEW (all scores out of 10):

Size: 7

The traditional wings were much bigger than they had been in the past, about the average size than you would expect from most restaurants.

Texture: 7

Also pretty standard for what you’d expect from a good chicken wing. Not too much sauce to where the wing is drenched but plenty enough to cover it in bold flavor. I’ve had O’Rourke’s wings before that were a little over-cooked and dry, but these were just right.

FLAVOR REVIEW:

Jack Daniels: 4

I couldn’t actually tell what it tasted like, but I’ve had my fair share of Jack before and this was not that flavor. I was indifferent about the actual flavor, but I had to deduct points for false advertising.

Jim Beam BBQ: 9

Now this sauce, on the other hand, was packed full of the flavor of the beverage it was named after. Add the classic component of BBQ to the mix and you have yourself one fine wing sauce, unique in flavor and as great as you’d expect.

Buffalo: 8

I am very picky when it comes to buffalo sauces, but this one was on the upper end of the scale. Not too oily, but not too thick and salty either.

OVERALL WING SCORE: 7

Like I stated before in the article, O’Rourke’s wing quality has been all over the place over the past few years, but it is nice to know that they can put out a decent wing when the cooks pay attention to what they’re doing. They would have scored higher if It wasn’t for the mystery sauce incorrectly labeled as “Jack Daniels.”

WARNING: This review is in regard to their traditional wings, not their boneless ones. The boneless “wings” they currently serve resemble perfectly round chicken meatballs, oversoaked in sauce and about 1/2 the size of a real boneless wing. I would probably review them as a zero. Avoid this fake food.

Throwback Thursday: The Wall of Flame Challenge

Wall of Flame

The infamous “Wall Wings.” Nearly everyone who has been to a Wings Etc. location knows about them, the hottest wings available at the restaurant. Far fewer have tried them. And only the dumbest of people attempt the Wall of Flame Challenge, in which you have to eat 16 of the wall wings in a row with no drinks, wing dip, wet wipes, or bathroom breaks. If you complete the challenge, you still have to pay full price for the wings, you don’t get a t-shirt, and in all honesty no one really cares. Your only mark of triumph is that you get your photo taken and placed upon the wall (hence the moniker “Wall Wings”). And with my competitiveness and love of chicken wings, I am just that sort of stupid person to try this challenge.

It was May 13, 2013. On a random day off of school and work, me and some of my friends and neighbors were hanging out when the mood of hunger struck. We brought up that it had been a while since we had eaten chicken wings, and I also commented that I had still never done the Wall of Flame Challenge, something that I had wanted to try ever since I had first heard about it years before. Given that I was to move away after graduation, I felt it was time to man up and cross this pointless win off of my bucket list for good.

When we ordered, the waitress gave me the option of boneless or traditional for my order. I was surprised, as I thought the challenge required one to eat only traditional style, as it would be much more of a challenge to eat around a bone than to quickly gobble down boneless nuggets. Not to be a punk bitch myself, I ordered the traditional style with my signature misplaced sense of pride.

Wall Wings

When I started the challenge, I found that the spiciness of the wings themselves were sufferable, and that the biggest challenge would be eating all 16 of them. Yes, my mouth was hot and I was sweating pretty bad, but I was able to keep it cool and just continued to eat them without hesitation. My friends were amazed at how casually I ate them, stopping between bites to converse like it were any other meal. Unbeknownst to me, one of my friends actually started timing me during the challenge. When all 16 wings were gone, it had only taken me slightly over 18 minutes, which was even more impressive seeing as that I was eating at my own pace and talking during the meal.

I got my photo taken and chose to place it at the very top of the column by the bathrooms (at the Grape Road location in Mishawaka, IN, in case anyone wants to see it). I made sure to place it as high as I could reach, so that I would always know exactly where to look for it on a wall that has a fairly large number of photos on it.

What ended up happening that day wasn’t the real challenge though. Over the course of the next three days, I had unbelievable constant heartburn and gas that would not be soothed, and had to use the bathroom very often. Even more so, it seemed that every time I used the bathroom, I could feel the same heat burning out of that end of my body that I had once felt burning in my mouth during the meal. It was completely horrible.

After enduring the digestive pain during the aftermath, I decided that I would never be inclined to try to Wall of Flame Challenge again. After all, my picture was already on the wall. For anyone who decides to try it, I suggest that you eat them quickly, and stock up on antacids and fiber to help battle the treacherous days ahead.

Wing Review: Wings Etc.

Jerkin Barbie

When I first became a fat college student, one of my favorite foods to scarf my stress away with was chicken wings. My favorite place to go every Sunday to eat and drink while watching NFL games with my friends was a spot called Hoosier Wings. But not too long after we became regulars, the restaurant came under legal issues for getting caught repeatedly serving alcohol to minors, and was shut down. Wings Etc., being arguably the most popular wing chain in my local area, naturally became our next choice. After elevating the back-up to the starting position, I grew fond of Wings Etc., and have many great memories with many different people that bring me back to the tastes of cold beer and messy wing sauces in their varied locations.

But I must not get too sentimental, for I am here to be a critical consumer reviewer and will do my best to not let my personal feelings get in the way of my wing grades. But for anyone who knows how much of a brutally honest asshole I can be to even the things and people I love most, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Upon my recent trip to Wings Etc., I choose to review their Jerkin’ Barbie, Me-So-Spicy, and the infamous Wall sauces. Without further adieu, let us begin.

WING REVIEW (all scores out of 10):

Size: 7

Wings Etc. markets their wings as “jumbo” sized, and while they aren’t tiny, I have eaten much bigger at other local eateries. That being said, they definitely aren’t a rip-off and are a perfect size for someone who would casually eat 10 or more wings per sitting.

Texture: 7

The wings are deep fried just the right amount and the skin, while thin, is usually at a preferred level of crispness.  However, one problem that Wings Etc. seems to have is uneven and/or illogical sauce distribution. While during this last particular trip they put surprisingly the right amount of sauce on each different set of wings, most the time I have gone to any of their locations they completely over-slather and drench the wings in sauce, leaving a huge messy puddle at the bottom of your basket. If you don’t eat the wings very quickly, the ones sitting in the puddle often get soggy and are overpowered by too much flavor.

FLAVOR REVIEW (per sauce):

Jerkin’ Barbie: 10

Ever since my first taste of it, Jerkin’ Barbie has always been my clear favorite for wings sauces at Wings Etc. This sweet Caribbean BBQ blend tastes like chicken wing candy, but not in an overpoweringly sugary way. It is also one of their more mild sauces, so even those who tend to shy away from spicy foods can enjoy it.

Me-So-Spicy: 9

I don’t usually get this flavor very often, but I never seem to have a problem with it when I do. A “sweet hot Asian” glaze that reminds you of the red hot pepper flakes in your orange chicken, it has a little bit more kick than most of their sauces but is balanced out nicely by the Asian flavoring.

Wall Wings: 8

If you’re wondering why they are called the “wall” wings, it’s because completing the “Wall of Flame Challenge” of 16 of these wings with no drinks, wet wipes, or bathroom breaks gets your photo taken and placed on the wall of the restaurant for all to admire. (I have personally defeated this challenge, but that is a story for another time). If you couldn’t guess by the challenge, they are also the hottest wings that Wings Etc. has to offer. Made with habanero, they attempt to make victims out of the taste buds of customers, but in all honesty for someone who goes into eating them expecting them to be unbearable, they really aren’t THAT hot… As far as the hot sauce itself, it actually tastes very good for something that is meant to make you uncomfortable. You will probably sweat a little bit and want a beer close by, but if you like spicy foods I would suggest trying it out to see how you fare.

OVERALL WING SCORE: 8.2

Wings Etc. could definitely use some work on not overdoing it with the baskets full of oily sauce, but as far as the flavors go they have some of the best variety and taste that a single wing place can offer (18 different sauces to be exact). They are also very moderately priced for a private restaurant chain, and the sports bar atmosphere is everything you’d expect from a wings and beer joint. If you are ever in the northern Indiana or southern Michigan area, I would recommend making at least one lunch break at a Wings Etc. location.

Wing Review: Scotty’s Brewhouse

Scotty's Wings

Scotty’s Brewhouse, although most times thoroughly delicious, has a reputation for having a very expensive menu. So when a new location opened up in nearby Mishawaka earlier this year, I wasn’t planning on visiting very often. That is, until I learned about their all-you-can-eat wing special on Mondays.

Normally, 6 wings at Scotty’s would cost you $8.50, a price that I think is a complete rip off no matter how good they are. But on Mondays, you can get as many wings as you can stuff yourself with for the price of $10 even.

Say what? Count me in.

I’ve only made it out to Scotty’s a handful of times since my first experience, but I would have to say that as long as you are a wing fanatic like myself and choose to go on only Mondays, it is well worth it each and every time.

For this installment of Wing Review, I decided to compare three different wing sauces of theirs; spicy bar-b-q, mo’fo’ mustard, and garlic teriyaki.

WING REVIEW (all scores out of 10):

Size: 9

The wings at Scotty’s Brewhouse are among the biggest I’ve eaten at any restaurant, and even at an all-you-can-eat rate someone as constantly hungry as me has trouble downing much more than 20. The only reason I didn’t give them a perfect 10 is because I have eaten bigger once before, and need to reserve a perfect score for those ridiculous occasions.

Texture: 10

Hands down, the best texture I have ever tasted in a wing. The skin is crispy but at the same time not at all hard or tough to break through, and the meat inside is as juicy as I’ve ever experienced. I’m not certain but I have been told that they use peanut oil in their deep frying, which is evident in the taste. They also use the exact right amount of sauce on their wings and it has the exact thickness that a wing sauce should have; you aren’t left with a puddle of greasy fluid on your plate afterword.

FLAVOR REVIEW (per sauce):

Spicy Bar-B-Q: 5

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t necessarily BAD, but compared to other spicy/hot BBQ sauces I’ve had, it had no kick to it at all and anything resembling “hot” was non-existent.

Mo’Fo’ Mustard: 10

I usually tend to stay away from mustard/honey mustard wing flavors because I have experienced horrible ones in the past, but someone suggested this to my friend as the best sauce they had. After trying it, I had to agree. I honestly can’t explain it, you just have to try it.

Garlic Teriyaki: 8

This was one of the best fusions of teriyaki with any other flavor that I have experienced. It had a great sweetness from the teriyaki that was neutralized by the garlic, and it balanced out quite well.

OVERALL WING SCORE: 8.4 / 10

I would definitely recommend checking out Scotty’s Brewhouse for all-you-can-eat wings on a Monday near you. But seriously, only on a Monday. Unless your rich. Which I am not.