Monday, 1 May 2006


It took me almost 4 years of living in Toronto to discover the Mecca of chicken wings here. I had searched and searched the downtown. Then, a vegetarian friend from work said she knew of the best wings, best veggie burgers, and best fries. And apparently the wings were supposed to be hot. Now its almost three years later and the rest, my friends, is history.

My good friend Amanda (not really a vegetarian, what we call an Amandatarian) was down to visit, and was willing to indulge me in a wing fix. I have held off on doing a review of Duff's since the beginning of the blog (despite having photos) but I just had a hankering for Duff's. We hopped on the subway all the way to Davisville, then caught the Bayview bus for the trek for great wings.

As usual, the place was busy on a Saturday night. A line up was almost out the door, and a wait of 30 - 45 mins was told to us by one of the owners (in the summer, with the patio in full swing, the wait can be an hour-and-a-half or longer, this place is that popular). We decided to wait, as it was possible a table for two would open up faster. We watched families and groups of people walk away after hearing the wait time, but it just makes me think of words of wisdom I heard as a kid: quitters never prosper. Oh well, less waiting time for us!

The atmosphere at Duff's is a buzz. The place is not big, but it is packed with families, couples, guys watching the game and gatherings of teens. The place feels alive, partly because your sitting very close to the next table. This establishment isn't really a bar, or a full restaurant, or a take-out place, but almost a mixture of them all. Its not the kind of place that you sit and sip: you get in, you get out cuz a whole lot of people want your spot.

Its hard to describe the decorum, but its wood paneling and big chalk boards full of one chicken wing hero's accomplishments. There is also a large bell that is rung when an order of Death Wings have been ordered, and if your brave (or stupid enough) to order Amageddon, police sirens flash and wail to announce to all that the order has arrived. While I have ordered both Death and Amageddon sauces, 1) they are extremely hot, both making my (yes my) stomach churn because of the heat, (I put Armageddon at 15/10 on my scale) but 2) they taste horrible - the flavour is disgusting. On a bet I will go down to eat these wings (and definitely suffer later) but on this Saturday night, I was going for my Superhot and Spicy BBQ.


SIZE of WINGS: large (big and meaty)
HEAT: Super Hot gets 9/10 (150 000 scoville units), Spicy BBQ 6/10
WET NAP FACTOR: 4.5/5, swimming by the end
PRICE: $8.95 for 10, $16.95 for 20, $39.95 for 50


SAUCE CHOICE: mild/mild medium/medium/medium hot/hot/superhot/
death/Armageddon/honey garlic/BBQ/spicy BBQ

SIDES: an order comes with a vinaigrette coleslaw, giant celery sticks and a choice of creamy dill or blue cheese dip
WETNAP: 2 and a ton of napkins
DEEP FRIED, GRILLED, BATTERED: deep fried, then sauced
WING NIGHT: Tuesday night an order of 10 wings is $5.45
OTHER: wing bucket included, personal mini-jugs of pop, quick service, great fries, lollipops

These wings really hit the spot. Duff's is my favourite wing place in Toronto because they make a traditional Buffalo Chicken Wing, the kind I grew up on, but only bigger. A traditional Buffalo Wing is simply a wing that is deep fried, then tossed in a sauce that is pretty much butter and hot sauce mixture. While some people don't like this style (preferring a battered or more bbq flavoured sauce) this is what a chicken wing is supposed to be like. This is actually a sister restaurant to one in Buffalo New York, which tries to lay claim to the discovery of the Buffalo Wing from the Anchor Bar.

I almost always order the Superhot wings, because they retain a lot of flavour but still pack a bite. My lips are always tingling after this and I come to a near sweat. One criticism I do have about these wings that I agree with critics of Duff's is the sog factor. When the wings come out, they are crisp but wet with sauce. By the last 2-3 wings, the butter sauce makes them very soggy and much less desirable than the first ones. A remedy for this is to order the wings naked and have the sauce on the side.

I also ordered the spicy bbq wings, as they have a nice flavour. Unlike other dull bbq sauces, this one has a kick (but you can ordered the milder version) which makes for a nice contrast with the superhot wings.

The order of wings also comes with coleslaw and giant celery sticks with dip, which are great extras that most places don't offer. Another bonus is the mini-jugs of pop you can get; a small pitcher of pop to douse the pain with, without having to wait for the staff to refill and refill.

Amanda ordered the grilled cheese sandwich there. In her words it was "good. Grilled to perfection" and the fries were "tasty but not too preachy".

As always, Duff's met my wing fix and left me with a smile on my face and a lollipop in my hand.
When you need a classic chicken wing with more than a kick, Duff's Famous Wings will deliver.

click HERE to see some other photos from Duff's

Duff's Famous Wings
1604 Bayview Avenue, Toronto

No comments: