Wednesday, 28 June 2006

THE MADISON - Sean's Goodbye Party

Well, an old friend and former co-worker, "Seanie" is off to McGill soon so a gathering was held for friends to say good by and catch up. Sean chose The Madison Pub as the locale, probably for space reasons, but also probably for the sentimental values.

You see, as an undergrad at the University of Toronto, there are a few haunts that everyone goes to, at least once. The Brunny ("where your parents used to party"), O'Grady's, Ein-Steins, and The Madison. The latter, being the classiest of them all, is the goliath of pubs. It is huge. To get an idea, look at the picture above of the 3 houses. Thats most of the Madison. Its so big, I couldn't find the gathering on the first 3 patios; turns out it was on the 4th patio.

The Maddy is also always packed, thus justifying the need for so much space. What other pub can hold 2000 people? I was late for the gathering, having spent yet another night at school in the editing cell. I was very hungry, and being the "wing whore" as Dude puts it, I was up to review wings again this week.


SIZE of WINGS: medium, despite being called "huge" and "jumbo"
HEAT: 4/10 for hot, 5/10 for suicide
PRICE: $8.99 for 8 wings, $15.99 for 16 wings & fries, $48.99 for platter


SAUCE CHOICE: mild/medium/hot/suicide/honey garlic/jerk
SIDES: veggies and blue cheese dip
WETNAP: zero
WING NIGHT: Wednesday $0.25 wings 11am-11pm
OTHER: 4 patios, 6 seperate 'pubs', darts, music, tv's, pool tables etc.

Unfortunately for the Maddy, I had been to Wheat Sheaf yesterday, where the wings are very similar, but done better. Yes these were crispy, and a bit juicy, but smaller and not as much flavour as the Sheaf. They might have done better if I had more of a gap between the two, but not by much.

They also broke my cardinal rule on suicide. As identified by Jasper, they add paprika which makes it that peppery taste that I don't like on my wings. A great suicide is the hot flavour, but it should burn like a M-F-er.

Aside from the wings, the veggies were good, the dip was decent, and the company was great. The service wasn't great. In fact, there were no servers on the lower patio; one had to go to the bar inside to order. The bartender was friendly, and he did bring my food out too me, but it was a bit odd. The part I did like about it was that I could pay him individually instead of worrying about a group bill.

Another small rant - I hate the group bill. There's always someone who doesn't pay their share (forgetting tax, tip or just trying to scam the rest) forcing the everyone else to cover them. The worst example of the group bill is when the bill is divied up equally instead of by how much your individual meal cost. If my meal cost $10 and I ate $10 worth of food, why should I pay $30? I was dismayed when I first moved to Toronto when a) Interac almost didn't exist [and in many places still doesn't] and b) serving staff automatically made 1 bill no matter how many people were involved. I understand a family, even couples, but when me and a couple buddies hang out, why would you make payment more difficult??? To be reasonable, I understand a group of 10 or more is difficult for a waitress or waiter to make seperate bills, but their are places that do it.

While the wings slightly dissapointed, the reunion did not. Although I didn't get to spend much time with the Man of the Hour himself, I did get to see former Dons, current Dons, and met a few others while I was at it. Just like old times, the Maddy provided a good night.

click HERE to see more pics

The Madison Pub
14 Madison Ave

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

The Wheat Sheaf

One of the great things about the summer is that I am not on my cafeteria meal plan, and I am freaking busy in production of a film; both of which gives me the excuse to go out to eat more often and try/review more chicken wing joints. "But Wing King" you might ask, "Aren't you sick of eating chicken wings?". To which I might reply, "while I don't want wings everynight of the week, there is a reason I have been referred to as the Wing King."

Its Monday, I have a metro-pass for the day and a hankering for the Wheat Sheaf. Toted as the oldest Pub in Toronto, the Wheat Sheaf today is a popular drinking hole, not with the young university crowd but with your average joe, yuppies, and wing lovers like me.

The Sheaf is an interesting place. The first few times I went here, the service was not friendly (despite my hearing the opposite) and the crowd was unusually Caucasian for Toronto, which isn't a problem, just unusual. As for the service, I determined that regulars get great service, it just takes a bit of time to warm up to strangers.

On this Monday noon-hour, I had no such service problems. My very friendly waitress Betty reminded me of going over to a buddy's house and their mom looking after me. I decided to sit on the patio because it was wonderful outside, as well it is less awkward taking photos (no flash) by one's self.

I knew that Sunday-Tuesday is wing night after 5 but I hoped it might be extended earlier today, as I have been given the discount earlier. I tried with Betty, but no deal for me. No deal, except some beautiful wing that I got to eat.


SIZE of WINGS: large 'jumbo roasters'
HEAT: 4/10 for hot, 6/10 for suicide
WET NAP FACTOR: 2/5 before suicide, 4/5 with suicide
PRICE: $9.95 for 10 wings, $15.95 for 20 wings, $21.95 for 30 wings, $31.95 for 50 wings


SAUCE CHOICE: mild/medium/hot/suicide/honey garlic/bbq
SIDES: veggies and blue cheese dip
WING NIGHT: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday 1/2 price after 5pm - yes 3 nights!!!
OTHER: patio

These are a great version of a classic buffalo wing. Simply deep fried then hot sauce added later. Sheaf wings taste good without even the sauce on them. Crisp skin with white juicy chicken on the inside - mmmmmmm! This is why I became a wing enthusiast.

The hot sauce had no bite at all, but a good flavour. And the Sheaf understands suicide: while it wasn't nearly as hot as I require, it was the same taste as hot, only hotter. Not just hot with a crappy taste.

The wings were not very wet to begin with (a small pool of sauce at the bottom of the basket) but it certainly did stain the fingers! I wish there was more than 1 wetnap given because of this. When I added the suicide from the side, I certainly needed more napkins and wetnaps.

My real criticism is the price. A small order of wings and a Sprite came to $14. Wow. These wings are good, but I won't be back till Sunday Monday or Tuesday after 5pm.

The Wheat Sheaf
667 King Street West

Saturday, 24 June 2006

RECIPE: WK Butter Wings I PART 1

Having gone to St Lawrence Market and getting a great deal on wings (5 pounds of wings for $12) I decided I needed to test these puppies out. They were in a semi-vacuum sealed, slightly frozen pouch. I decided to seperately bag them into different bags to eat at different times, and cut the drumstick/wing/tips and kept enough for dinner on the sides.

I kept the tips (most people throw them out or use them in soup) but I like them done up just the same. I still remember in high school going out and my friends seeing the tip left on the wing and they freaked out, "its a claw!" They thought it was a mutant wing. I did put hot sauce in one bag of wings to marinate until I have it next.

I decided I would try and make this batch of wings into a spicy breaded king. I set out with my ingredients, my test kitchen and a camera to see what I could do.

  • chicken wings
  • oil
  • 1 egg
  • milk
  • flour
  • cornmeal
  • kosher salt
  • garlic powder
  • fresh ground pepper


  • margerine or butter
  • Frank's Extra Hot Sauce


  1. -seperate drumstick, wing and tip
  2. -place in milk egg wash
  3. -mix dusting ingredients in tall container
  4. -place 3-4 wings in container at a time, shake
  5. -turn wok to high heat, add oil - when oil hot, add wings
  6. -while chicken cooking, melt margerine & stir in equal parts hot sauce in seperate container
  7. -when wings are cooked, pat on paper towel, toss with hotsauce mixture
  8. -enjoy

wings in egg/milk wash

cooking area - wings in egg/milk wash, wing in dusting container, wok with oil getting really hot

dusted wings frying in oil

melt margerine with this hot sauce bad boy

toss sauce and wings together - enjoy!

I was nervous about how these would turn out. I haven't cooked wings in a long time, I didn't know what the wings would be like, and I didn't know if the batter would just turn out into a mess. Without a deep fryer, cooking wings with a dusting can be messy and problematic. This time, however, things went very well.

First, these wings were big and meaty, so they on their own I figured would be good. Second, I decided to up the cornmeal content of the dusting over the flour. Finally, I decided to go with a Buffalo style sauce that I was sure would be good.

The first thing I noticed when I tore into these big boys was the reminder of the Jack Astor butter wings. Similar crunch coating, similar butter soaking. The sauce didn't turn out to be the thick kind that I expected or was looking for, but it was good none the less. The wings were crunchy, and juicy. Next time I would add another sauce with more kick. The Frank's Extra Hot did have a bit to it; my lower lip was slightly numb - but not enough to make me sweat or bleed.
This is why I called these wings Butter Wings version 1.o, because I will make variations on this wing until I find one that I consider perfect.

So these wings were thumbs up, but there is definetely room for improvement.

See the LOTW photo album for more pics of the wing prep HERE, HERE, and the veggie medley I made along with it and its recipe HERE.


RIP - This location NOW CLOSED

Dude had some time off from work in Ottawa, so he was heading back to the Burg. Asked if I wanted to tag along and visit home, and I said, why not? And while we are at it, how about we stop at one of my favourite wing joints: Moose Winooskis.

I don't remember how my immediate family started going to the Moose but it did start at their Kitchener location at sports world. But with family near Brantford, hitting this Northern themed restaurant became popular on shopping and visiting trips.

On this particular occasion the atmosphere was LOUD. Not because of music, or drunken patrons. No this night it was loud because of children. Lots of them. At least 2 birthday parties going on. So this evening, not bip boppin but definitely children hoppin.

The inside of Mooses is designed to feel like your up North at the cabin, on vacation. Log wood is the definite decor, as well as walls with Moose heads that are kid friendly because they are fake and making funny faces. The other big draw for the children is the birthday wheel. After your typical crowd of servers singing happy birthday to the child and wear a helmet with antlers, they get to go up to a wheel of fortune board and spin for t-shits, free meals, or the most common and most popular, pie in the face.

The menu like the restaurant are family friendly, which is sorely missed living in downtown Toronto. Big portions for reasonable prices, and overall a friendly place. The one item on the menu that keeps me and my family coming back again and again though are the wings.


SIZE of WINGS: large (even without the coating)
HEAT: 4/10
PRICE: $5.97 'Snack Size' (approx 5) , $8.97 'Regular' (approx 8), $15.57 'Large' (approx 18)
$22.97 'Party Platter' ???

SAUCE CHOICE: mild/medium/forrest fire hot/suicide/
honey garlic/authentic spicy buffalo
veggies and blue cheese dip
WETNAP: 2 or 3
DEEP FRIED, GRILLED, BATTERED: dusted, dusted again, then deep fried
OTHER: free refills on pop! patio and even a kids area

What makes these wings better than a lot of other wings is the double dusted coating. Not only does it plump up the size, but it makes it very crunchy. They say on their menu that this is "often copied but never duplicated" the only place I have ever had wings like this was Tortilla Flats (to be reviewed) and they were right, they weren't duplicated.

Now to be clear, these wings are not Buffalo wings. The dusting, the sauce - not at all. The closest they come is their butter and hot sauce mix. The flavour on these wings is closer to a bbq, in that they have a sweeter taste, but still have a bit of a bite. I didn't order suicide because the suicide here is the hot that is swimming in jalepeno peppers (and yes, the sauce swims in the peppers) and its not a bad flavour, but I prefer the regular hot.

The veggies were crunchy, the pop never ending, and the wings were temperature hot. I would definitely preferred more bite for my buck (despite a server surprised at me getting the hot) and the 'authentic buffalo sauce' doesn't really work with the double dusted nature. Wetter wings would have also been more desirable. Dude ordered a steak that got the best of him in the end, but it was a good piece of meat. The onion strings were the best part.

So on this trip the wings weren't the best they have been, or the biggest, but overall I was satisfied with my wing experience. Good, non-traditional wings in this mammal infested place. Definitely worth checking out this neck of the woods.
Click HERE for more phots
Moose Winooski's
45 King George Road, Brantford (various locations)

Thursday, 15 June 2006

The Devil's Advocate

*The Devil's Advocate is now CLOSED*
The Devil's Advocate

No, not the pinball game. Not even the actually act of being a Devil's Advocate, as described by wikipedia HERE, no I'm talking about the popular pub in downtown Toronto.

Located on Bay street, the DA was a common hang out for the Dons when LJ worked at Luker House (aka the Residence College Hotel). I always see it busy, partly because its in a business area, with little to no pub competition (I guess the Wolf and the Firkin is pretty close).

Its also popular because it has a patio - and any location in the downtown with a patio is a goldmine. DA's patio is like other patios downtown; crappy. Concrete, with plastic chairs and an iron fence around it. And the smokers. But at least DA's has a lot of space (most downtown patios are the size of a 4 person table with 10 chairs squeezed in). Complaining aside, I wanted to be outside with my dinner, so I went around the corner with my beautiful view of wall or parking lot and settled in for pre-class wings.


SIZE of WINGS: medium to small
HEAT: 4/10 for the hot, suicide 5/10
PRICE: $5.25 small order(approx 10 wings) , $8.25 for large (approx 20 wings)


SAUCE CHOICE: mild/medium/hot/suicide/honey garlic
SIDES: veggies and dip
WING NIGHT: Monday & Tuesday nights ( didn't say what the deal is)
OTHER: good platter special of wings, chicken fingers, garlic bread and fries for $9.75.

The wings were good. They were not special - simple pub wings. A nice flavour, crispy and wet. On their own, little to complain about - but being a chicken wing critic, I wouldn't be doing justice to my quest or to you the loyal reader if there weren't something for me to pick on.

The worst part of these wings was the suicide sauce. Its now my rule that unless I know what the suicide sauce is like prior to order, I order it on the side. This is the reason why. Suicide wasn't even on the menu, I had to ask for it. Which is fine, most people can barely handle medium to hot so suicide isn't likely to be popular. When it came, I thought there might have been a mistake and I got marinara sauce. Nope. This was one of the worst suicide sauces I have ever had. It was literally a tomato sauce with some spice to it. I do not want my wings tasting like V8. And what makes me more upset is that I didn't eat any of it (because of the taste), but I know they (the staff) are thinking I can't take the heat. A little hurt pride on my part especially considering that suicide was hot at best.

Also not good were the veggies and dip. The veggies were not super crisp (I can live with that) but the blue cheese was so blah in flavour, it was like eating paper.

So to recap the Devil's Advocate: horrible suicide sauce, crappy dip, concretey patio - but friendly waitress and wings that are good to the last flapper. I do like the DA, really I do. Just don't ask for suicide.

The Devil's Advocate
655 Bay Street, Toronto
416- 595-1105

Saturday, 10 June 2006

Return to Ottawa: LOCAL HEROES

Back to Ottawa, this time because LJ had articling interviews and she needed a driver/escort/support, I was off once again to try again and see if Ottawa could measure up in the wing department.

This was not a vacation, so I didn't know whether or not wings would be on the agenda. None the less, I did some research HERE, and found some of the top rated wing places in Ottawa. When a less than busy night came up, LJ and I headed off to Local Hero's Bar & Grill to test why they deserved best wings title, and local hero.

Local Heroes is a chain of sports bars in the Ottawa area. We went to their flagship restaurant, located in a mall plaza. The inside was smothered with your typical sports memorabilia, TVs with the game on (what game, I have no idea) and a large number of seniors enjoying their food. On the way in the portion sizes looked good, so I was excited, despite our fake friendly waitress.

I had already looked at Local's webpage before coming, so I knew what I was going to get. The only decision I had was whether I was getting the Jumbo Roaster Wing or the Traditional Roaster Wing. When I enquired what the difference was, the waitress explained that Jumbo was jumbo, and the traditional was 'like the small wings you get at other places'. Well, with a bold statement like that, it was Jumbo all the way.


SIZE of WINGS: jumbo - or very large
HEAT: hot - 6/10, 911 sauce - 6/10
PRICE: $6.99 -1 pound, $13.59 - 2 pounds, $26.99 -4 pounds, $49.99 - 8 pounds


SAUCE CHOICE: mild/medium/hot/911/terikayki/honey garlic/
hickory smoked BBQ/Cajun dry rub/spicy Thai
SIDES: none
WETNAP: 5 and a ton of napkins
WING NIGHT: Tuesdays, 25% off wings
OTHER: bone bowl included, good 'platter' deals

Well if I can say anything about these wings, they were jumbo. With no dusting or batter, they were a large wing. In retrospect, I would have ordered a half order of traditional and a half order of jumbo to compare properly, but the thought of jumbo wings got me all excited. You have the choice of asking for having the tips removed from the wing wing, but I like it kept on, just that much more wing for you to enjoy.

The sauce on these wings were a butter/hot sauce, but it was very thick. What made it so thick? I don't know. Not that it wasn't good, but the sauce permeated the wings, thus making them lose their initial crispness very quickly. Even LJ liked the flavour. The heat of the wings was a disappointment. Hot was not, and 911 was the same, if not less. The flavour of the 911 was weak as well - not something I would recommend.

LJ wanted a combination of Chicken Nachos (because of the guacamole no salsa) and Hero Nachos (jalapeno peppers, olives, mushrooms) but she didn't get guacamole and she did get salsa. What was different was that they put the salsa as the first later, then the cheese then the toppings. Other than being screwed over with the guac and salsa (LJ is not a fan) they were good nachos (even better the second day). I even ate the olives and mushrooms [shock!]

While it wasn't your Superman or Batman type hero, Local Heroes was a hero in terms of big wings and good nachos. So if your in the nation's capital I would say check these out.

Local Heroes Bar and Grill
1400 Clyde Street Napean [Ottawa] (and other locations)

Sunday, 4 June 2006


Having been very busy the past week filming, dishes had piled up, no grocery shopping done and to tired to do anything about either, I was in a bind for lunch. Lazy was the key word for the day, and thus I headed of to a normally nocturnal choice, Hong Shing.

Hong Shing is not my favourite Chinese restaurant in Toronto or even my area of Old Chinatown. Its not the cheapest, the food isn't amazing, the staff are rude, and yes, there have been 2 shootings in the past year. I was once mistaken for Silent Bob, and only a few months ago Kanye West was seen eating there. So why do I and others keep going back? Its open late, and laziness.

I ordered a General Tao Chicken (one of the better one's I've had, but scarily red) and an order of their spicy deep fried wings.


SIZE of WINGS: small to medium
HEAT: 4/10 (there was a bit of a zing)
WET NAP FACTOR: 1/5 (more oily than anything)
PRICE: $6.95 for 12 wings


SAUCE CHOICE: plain, spicy
SIDES: nothing
WETNAP: none
WING NIGHT: none (its Chinese take-out)
OTHER: none

There's not a whole lot to say about these wings. They were medium/small in size, they were just right in crispness (for the most part) and they quick. The 'sauce' was some chili-flakes and garlic, which had more of a zing than a kick. My hunger satisfied, my tastebuds doing a jig, these were decent Chinese style wings. Not the best on the block, but I wouldn't be opposed to getting them here again.

Hong Shing
195 Dundas St. West