Reading Jess’s post about wings was like being hit by a bus. I really didn’t see it coming. I found myself asking “Do I really know her?” and “How have we been friends this long?”. She really destroyed my whole afternoon… Now instead of doing the job I actually get paid for, I’m stuck proving how wrong my former friend is. My day really has taken a turn.
First, I just want to say that I am the most qualified to discuss buffalo wings. To paraphrase our pal Bane, Jess merely adopted the buffalo wing. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t realize there were different flavors til I was nearly an adult and by then my taste buds had been seared off…
I digress. My point is I was quite literally raised eating buffalo wings at least once a week. I was that kid in The Arc on 10 cent wing night. I was also that kid in Jessica Stones covered in wing sauce during the Derby and the Breeders’ Cup. I was the teenager eating 8 Scubber’s atomic wings, 7 more than my companions, without any blue cheese. I was the college student at Hooter’s on all you can eat wing night putting down 34 of those breaded monstrosities. That one wasn’t my finest hour but whatever. As an adult, I’ve been to more Wing Wars than a normal human should go to. The point I’m trying to make is not that I’m a fat kid or I’m better than anyone that hasn’t done any of the above, just that I know and love wings.
I’ve also been to both Duff’s and Anchor Bar in Buffalo, both of whom claim the title for the first to make a buffalo wing. While I commend them for their effort, I will say that both the Ale House and the Ruck have better wings. By a lot. Just an aside, I find wings to be hotter around the Upstate area than they are in the Buffalo area. Someone give me a reason for this?
Anyway, I don’t like to dabble in funny flavored wings. Yes I’ve had the pb&j wings at Park Pub and they were good, but if I’m going to eat the portion of a chicken responsible for its flight, I only have one flavor I want to taste, and that is buffalo. Anything else seems wrong and makes me make a face. An ugly, unhappy face.
With this preface, my requirements for a good wing are as follows:
1) Flavor: Hot. Very hot. I want my sinuses to clear. However, I don’t want it to be at the expense of good flavor. There needs to be more than Frank’s Hot Sauce and butter on here. The bar that Jess used to work at had the worst wings. It wasn’t her fault because it wasn’t a cooking issue but whomever bought or made the wing sauce really failed. It was atrocious.
2) Crispy: There needs to be a crunch however there is a fine line between fleshy, crispy, and dessicated. I’ll forgive the occasional miss towards overfried(hell, I understand. Sometimes I accidentally overcook bacon which everyone knows is a food sin), but if they are undercooked I’m never coming back.
3) Saucy: I want this to be a sloppy fiasco and wearing buffalo sauce like war paint is part of the experience.
4) The Extras: A side of celery and/or carrots with blue cheese is a must. Personally, I don’t dip my wings in blue cheese because I don’t want to tame the spice but soggy veggie sides and ranch dressing are a sure fire indicator that I’m about to get shitty wings.
I don’t care about anything other than these four things. I’ll gladly eat wings with flat soda, shitty beer, a glass of white wine, or apple juice and I think wet wipes are for people that worry about burning their eyeballs when they take out their contacts later due to residual wing sauce on their fingers. Wimps.
Based on my objectively better qualifications, the Ruck wins. I won’t turn down the Ale House if people are going but if I’m craving wings, I’m headed to the Ruck. On their worst day, the wings at the Ruck are heads above the local competition with only the Ale House anywhere in the rearview. On their best day, which is most days, there’s no question. I will concede that the spicyness for hot wings is dependant on who is on the fryer that night, but I’ve learned that if you just say “really hot” to ANYONE working, I’m going to be just fine and my sinuses will be totally cleared out. Add to that that the Ruck has the best blue cheese in town and it’s game over.
TL; DR: Ruck wins the battle of Troy. Period. The End.