Thursday, 16 May 2019

#wingwednesday = Meatings BBQ Hot Buffalo


MONKEY JOE's BAR & GRILL - Ottawa ON


It was over 10 years ago, but I can't remember exactly. I didn't know Ottawa very well at all. My buddy Jason was in town and we needed a place to eat. We came across a place called Monkey Joe's. It seemed like an interesting spot - inside was a jungle themed restaurant. All I was interested in was wings. For some reason, I didn't do a review. I don't remember the wings, but I remember both of us were not that impressed. And then I never went back.

Until I did.


It's 2019 and back in April I decided to end my self imposed exile. For over a year I had seen Monkey Joe's advertising a wing night on Mondays. Monday is the wing night in Ottawa. I was on my own and decided it was time to get some wings.



If it wasn't for a semi-active Instagram account, I would have assumed Monkey Joe's was closed. Driving past, the place looks abandoned. Sometimes the message board on the sign changes, but the exterior of the place looks run down and vacant. I knew they were open, but the place doesn't feel like they want to encourage new traffic.

I expected the inside to be super old and run down too, but it wasn't. I mean the jungle/animal theme aspect of the restaurant seems a bit tired, but this looks like any relatively contemporary casual restaurant you go to. Things were clean, staff were friendly. The crowd was a mixed bag; I saw some seniors, two guys in suits, some ladies out for a girls night, and several guys like me, dining solo, sitting in booths. Fascinating.



I noticed but didn't register in my head the wing night special on the chalk board at the front door. When my waiter, Rob,  tried to explained it, I had no idea what he was talking about because I couldn't grasp exactly what was going on. I had to get him to repeat it several times, and even then I wasn't sure. But looking at this board it seems much clearer:

  • Monday Nights after 4pm
  • Wings are $0.65 cents each
  • The first order is minimum 15 wings (ie $9.75)
  • After that, you can order in increments of 5

Ok that wasn't soo complicated. I was told though that because the deal was such a steal, sour cream was not included. Oh no, no sour cream. This seemed a little petty not being included, but I don't need sour cream.


There are a decent number of flavours on the menu. I strategized how many wings I could get and how many flavours. With the wing deal I start with 15, but my waiter let me do 8 of one flavour and 7 of another flavour.



My waiter took my order, and was back quickly with a bone plate, some napkins and a wetnap. He also had my beverage, a Diet Pepsi (they serve Pepsi products).


I didn't have to wait long before my wing feast arrived ...



At Monkey Joe's, wings come in orders of 1lb for $12.99. I'm not sure how many come in a pound but I assume probably 7-9 or so. The wings are pretty evenly split between drums & flats, tipping to the flats by a few more.


The wings varied in size, with some being small and some being medium. Because of the small ones (and they were small) my waiter told me that the chef added a few extra to make up for the size, so I got 17 instead of 15. I appreciate that.


The wings were not that meaty, but they weren't skinny either. The texture on the wings was both good and bad. The skin was nice and crispy, especially the dry rubbed wings. It was crispy and crackly when you ate it, which came from a light dusting before frying. Sadly though, the meat and the wings were pretty tough. Tearing apart the flats was very difficult. I'm fairly sure they were from frozen.



The sauciness of the wings was adequate, if not a little lacking. The hot wings were wet, but just barely so. The dry wings were very lightly dusted.



I went with classic Hot, the Dusted Cajun, and a side of Suicide. Even though they were lightly sauced/dusted, they did look really good.


HOT

Hot was simple, classic cayenne based hot sauce, probably Frank's. Not that hot, but tasty enough.


DUSTED CAJUN

Like the amount of seasoning on these wings, the flavour was pretty light. They were salty, but the garlic/pepper flavour of Cajun wasn't that strong. They were still a tasty wing.


SUICIDE

This sauce was fresh, slightly hot, but definitely not killer. I asked what it was and Rob told me it was homemade, with a Frank's Red Hot base, with cayenne pepper, some other spices, and canned jalapeno peppers. I could taste those finely diced pickled peppers and it was good. He told me they had experimented with different sauces but this is the one that regulars to Monkey Joe's seem to like.


FINAL SCORE:

How to sum up my wing experience at Monkey Joe's: meh. Nothing special. Well the crispy skin was good, but the flavours/sauces for the most part were a bit weak, the sizes inconsistent, and the meat was tough and from frozen. The wing deal wasn't too bad. The service was friendly and good, so there's that. Would I go back? Maybe? On wing night, maybe, otherwise I wouldn't monkey around here. 7.5/15


PS: they kept referring to themselves as the "Home of Ottawa's Original Nachos". I didn't ask, but I didn't understand what this meant.  Like the first place in Ottawa to serve Nachos? Is there an Ottawa-style of nachos? Or Monkey Joe's specific style of Nachos? I never asked and never found out.


Monkey Joe's Bar & Grill
1265 Carling Ave, Ottawa ON
monekyjoes.com



Wednesday, 8 May 2019

HURLEY's NEIGHBOURHOOD GRILL - Kanata ON


For some reason sometime last year I found myself driving in the Bridlewood-Emerald Meadows area of Kanata, just exploring an area I was unfamiliar with. It's all suburbs and schools in this area, all looking the same. Then I came across a little strip mall; it has a Works Burger place, convenience store, Chinese restaurant, Gabriel's Pizza, a bank, Dentist office, daycare, pharmacy, and a physiotherapy clinic. What caught my eye was a little pub called Hurley's Grill, or Hurley's Neighbourhood Grill. I didn't go that night, but logged it into my head for places to go in the future.


This brings us to March of this past year. It was a Tuesday, LJ was out at a work function, so I decided to take advantage of a wing night somewhere. I checked my rolodex of wing nights and found that Hurley's has a Tuesday wing night. Great, wing night and trying out a new place. Sounded like a win-win to me.



I headed back to the Kanata location (there is also a location in Stittsville ON). I had low expectations going in for some reason; I think I thought it was a pub that really wanted to be a chain and that the food would all be frozen commercial product. It might be (I just had wings), but for whatever reason, I had a mild prejudice going into this review.


As I walked in, I was struck by how big the place was. From the outside I thought it was a decent size joint, but I noticed on the right there was a long bank of booths and tables. That side was also blocked by an awkward projector screen where some sports (hockey?) were being shown. Not sure if this is a regular set up or something special, but I found it odd and cumbersome. The next thing I noticed was a sign pronouncing a new wing sauce - Spicy Caribbean Jerk. Not my thing but cool.

Hurley's was pretty busy for a Tuesday evening. The place is pretty dark inside, and despite having been there for years, it looks pretty good inside. I sat in the front window in a booth and enjoyed the lowering sunset. I had two waitresses, one who was named Katie (via my reciept), but I'm not sure which on she was. One who was really friendly, engaging, and able to answer all my questions. She confirmed it was wing night too. Both were attentive and would bring me refills on my diet Pepsi's.


The menu is pretty standard for pub fare, but I was happy with the wing section with several wing flavours. I was slightly confused because the sign at the door mentioned 'Spicy Caribbean Jerk' while the menu already had a Caribbean Jerk. Was this one not spicy? I didn't ask, but I should have.


I appreciated on the menu they have the weekly specials. Why don't more places do this? I mean, if it's a secret, what's the point? Good job Hurley's. So it's 1/2 Price after 4pm on Tuesdays, with the purchase of a beverage for every 2 pounds. That's about $19.46 for 2lbs and a drink.


It wasn't long before my giant platter with wings came out. I was pretty excited for my little feast to begin!


Wings come in orders by the pound, which in this case was about 8-9 wings. I also was given a bone plate with napkins and a wetnap for cleanup.


The menu stated the wings come with carrot sticks and sour cream. I asked if I could sub the sour cream for something else, and was told I think blue cheese or ranch and I immediately went with blue cheese. Why isn't blue cheese the default?

It came in a huge plastic container. Huge. It was a very generous portion of dip. However, the dip while it had big chunks of blue cheese and was creamy, was just kind of flat in flavour and didn't deliver. Still 100 times better than sour cream. The carrot sticks were also really thin.


Size wise we were dealing with a small to medium. Not tiny, but just not that long at all. They were pretty meaty. The wings were very crispy. Really nice and crispy skin. It was excellent.


The meat itself was relatively tender. They pulled apart with just a bit of effort. Overall, a pretty good textured wing. My dry rubbed wings were lightly seasoned, and the wet wings were individually wet, but there wasn't a lot of extra sauce hanging around.


I went with a double order of wings, one Frank's Red Hot, one Cajun Dusted, with a side of suicide. The funny thing is, this isn't what I had planned. Before coming I scoped out their website and menu to plan my visit. On the menu I had seen "House BBQ (Medium)" and I thought that sounded good, possibly homemade. So that's what I was going to get. Instead I ordered the Cajun with the side of suicide, but then I wanted something hot, and abandoned the BBQ at the moment of ordering. I'm frigg'n weird.


FRANK's RED HOT

So they just come out and tell you they use Frank's. Good. Most places just put Hot, and, well, it's usually just Frank's. It's reliable, classic, unpredictable


CAJUN DUSTED

Mild mild flavour. I mean they were very lightly seasoned to the point you could barely notice they were seasoned with anything. I want my wings to be in a sandstorm of seasoning. They were salty, and that Cajun garlic/pepper/salt was going on, just in the background. But the skin on these wings were so crispy, that was ok.



SUICIDE

If I had to guess, I would say this was Frank's Xtra Hot. It had a nice sting to it, not much depth, but a good sharp white hot bite. I ask one waitress and she said thought it was Frank's, which semi-confirmed my thoughts that it was Xtra hot.


 She asked how I liked it and I said it was good - that it had a nice bite to it, "I know, I love spicy!" she said. Awesome. Overall, I could see the staff interacting with each other and customers and having a good time, and that's a good sign to me.



FINAL SCORE:

I was expecting some low grade frozen fare from Hurley's but I found some wings that were pretty tasty. They weren't huge, but they were fried very nicely with crispy salty skin. Hot was just Frank's, and the Cajun was a little light in seasoning, but the suicide had a nice bite. Pass on the blue cheese (but very generous portion!) and sour cream (ranch next time I guess). Ya, I'd definitely go back on wing night again. Friendly staff, good wings.


Hurley's Neighbourhood Grill
64 Stonehaven Dr, Kanata ON (and other location)
hurleysgrill.com


Saturday, 4 May 2019

HAPPY STAR WARS DAY 2019 - May the 4th Be With You!!!



Star Wars, Chicken Wings ... what`s not to love?!?!




























Dedicated to Peter Mayhew who passed away this past week. Best Wookie ever.