Ale House VS. Ruck

February 26, 2013 by Jessica

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 12.01.36 PMThe age old question. The Ale House. The Ruck. The Aleeeeeeeeeeee House. The Ruccccccck.

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. When life lands you in Troy, eat all the wings.

Did you know we are in the terrible midst of a chicken wing shortage? I thought this was really sad news…..all the poor chickens being born to degenerate mothers with no wings. I have since been told that it is more of a chicken FEED shortage, not an abundance of limbless chickens. I think this must have a correlation to a drought, and maybe the end of the world as we know it. (I do feel fine.)

Anyway. For me, there are only 2 places to eat wings in Troy, the Ale House and The Ruck. I am not alone here. And if you have eaten wings with me, and are currently thinking I don’t get to decide just because I can eat about 6 in 30 minutes, stop reading now. Just because I eat wings like a girl doesn’t mean I cant recognize a good thing right in front of my face. I have earned the right to vote, and chicken wings are no exception. Quality, not quantity. And don’t you ever forget it.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

1) Taste. Taste good. Not just like Franks. And not just like hot.

2) Heat. Your hot needs to be hot enough. Heat without compromising taste.

3) Size/The Meats. Please do not waste my time with tiny iny baby wings.

4) Crisp. In another lifetime, I tended bar at the kind of neighborhood place that might have given you polio. There was no cash register. I did math on my fingers (Math is hard!) and took lots of chicken wing orders. Almost everyone likes their wings crispy. There was this one guy, god rest his soul, who used to ask for them mild and “rare” –  with stretchy snappy skin. After throwing up in my mouth, I had no problem telling him I could not and would not do that for him. I’m a firm believer that a man should be his own man, but also that EVERYONE needs a little help from their friends sometimes, and this was one of those times. Plus, it’s chicken.

5) Beer. Do you have Lagunitas on tap? Because I have to have it.  Major points for a decent selection of boozy crafty beers. I know, this has nothing to do with wings, but as a female, I am turning this into an experience, and details matter. I like a beer with my wings, so let’s make it a good one.

6) Wet nap. You must have wet naps! It’s not like I am cutting my wings with a fork and knife, but I don’t want to to be the bitch walking around with wing sauce on her face either. It’s not a good look.

So based on these qualifications,  the Ale House is my personal favorite. I think their wings are BIG and meaty, crispy, the hot is the right kind of hot, the taste is totally on point, and I like that you can order them in 5’s which is cute for the person who might only want 5 wings. Also, I just really love the Ale House. I love the jukebox and Booie, and even that giant creepy fish on the wall. The Ale House was the first bar I ever drank in when I earned the privilege (it wasn’t a right) to go out after work with all of the grown ups (who in retrospect, were 24.) The next morning was the spoken Russian Olympics at SUNY Albany and I rode a school bus from Shaker high school to go compete in this. I have to think that if things went differently for me that night, I might have taken gold. The things that could have been….

The Ale House also has these crazy hot insanity wings…..this is not the real name. But they did win an award in 2004 and I can honestly tell  you, they are ON FIRE. I recently saw someone take down 6 of them. This was a very enjoyable experience for me based on the fact that I love things I can’t understand. I took my hot wing and cautiously dipped it in some of this dragon fire sauce….just a tiny bit. My eyes cried, my nose started to run, and my water ran dry. I felt my body temperature escalate as did my concern for my fellow wing eater. How was he doing this? Was he going to live? Was he a real human? In any event, it was quite impressive/dangerous/not relaxed.

But the Ruck. The Ruck makes their own blue (blue??) cheese and had THE BEST beer selection this side of the Mississippi. The wings are really good. They are pretty big, they taste good, plentiful wet naps. But I have an issue. The differentiation between medium and hot wings here is very subtle. I am PRETTY sure the only difference is less butter and maybe black pepper. I know that I have heard this among others….but something is not quite right here. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t throw either out of bed, but there is not quite enough escalation between the medium and hot, in my opinion at least. And the hot isn’t very hot.  One time, I saw “honey mustard wings” on the menu and had to try them. Don’t make my mistakes. Just……don’t. Drop them now. Not like they are hot, because they are not. Does the Ruck have a hotter-than-hot option? I suppose I should have looked into this before blogging, but I didn’t. If you know, please share!

In all seriousness, I am not the most experienced or best eater of wings. Both the Ale House and The Ruck hold special space in my heart. But I do know what I like, and am pretty discriminating. If I like these wings, I think you will like them, too. Just have all of them. Do you like wings from anywhere else? I hear the park pub has some pretty great Peanut Butter and Jelly (and other weird) wings They also have a great patio, clams, and fun bands. IS IT SUMMER YET?!!!

POST BY Jessica
There was a void in her life. A spicy, meaty void . And the desire to fill that void led her across the river from Albany, to Troy, NY. It was there that she finally found it. Jamaican Beef Patty perfection. And lots of it. Late at night, I Love NY Jamaican Beef patties fueled her shenanigans. During the day, the premade frozen beef patties at the 3rd St bodegas kept her energy up for back to back yoga sessions. Like the Bee Girl from the Blind Melon video, she finally found a place with people like her. Except she’s a ginger. And not chubby. Slowly, it dawned on her. Troy, NY was meant for her and she made the purchase that would ensure she could remain, pockets filled with spiced meat encased in preservative laden dough: white curtains to put in her windows so as not to run afoul of the Troy Historic District’s guidelines. She could breathe easy. This was home. *****************************************************************************************************