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Wingin’ It

Ankur Chawla | Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Last week I compiled and published a weekly calendar for the best wing deals in the South Bend area. Like many of you, I have already found the calendar invaluable for deciding where to get food on any given day. In order to further help you out I will bear the burden of visiting each of the wing establishments and sharing my opinions. The first of the fine restaurants I’ve visited was Wings Etc. While this is a fairly widespread and well-liked chain, I feel it necessary to lodge a few of my complaints. 

I went on a Monday, which meant 49-cent boneless or jumbo bone-in wings with your choice of their “18 signature sauces.” Though I went well before the deal and Monday Night Football brought in a sizable crowd (there were three tables occupied in the early evening while I was there), the waitresses and chefs made it feel as if they were already packed. Within the first four minutes of our visit the waitress stopped by three times to ask if we were ready to order, and our wings were like a do-it-yourself project with sauce unevenly distributed and in one case not even poured on the wings.

In the spirit of being as unbiased and fair as possible, I tried four of their sauces and both boneless and bone-in wings with almost every tier of spice level on the menu. An avid fan of “Man vs. Food” and spice fanatic, I even sampled their hottest sauce, the “Wall,” which carries with it a challenge of finishing 16 wings with no water or other beverages. While this visit I did not elect to try the challenge, I did order four of those wings and they were more than manageable though did have a nice flavor.

The other sauces I sampled included their “Spicy Hot Honey” which was an okay attempt at hot honey mustard, “Major Jerk” which was overly creamy and thick to be considered true to its Caribbean namesake, and the racially insensitively named “Me-So-Spicy” (more like “Me-So-Offensive”) which offended both my morals and my taste buds. While I can’t complain about the chicken wings themselves, it’s hard to come across bad breaded chicken, the sauces on balance were heavy and detracted from the flavor of the chicken more so than adding anything good.

A pet peeve of mine when getting wings at a restaurant is when extra is charged for ranch or bleu cheese dipping sauce. It would be understandable if clearly marked on the menu as being an additional cost or if the waitress would mention that when taking an order. However, at Wings Etc. it was given the impression of being complimentary and once seeing the check it cost more than the wings did. Admittedly, wings were 49-cents that night and “extra dressing” was 59-cents, but as a matter of principle charging for a condiment is not something I endorse.

As shown last week, there is no shortage of places to get cheap wings on any given day of the week. In my professional opinion, I would not go with Wings Etc. again anytime soon.

Contact Ankur Chawla at achawla@nd.edu

The views in this column are those of the author and  not necessarily those of The Observer.

 

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