Wednesday, 12 December 2007

KC WINGS & RIBS - Toronto


One night I ventured out into the wild of Yonge street to find me some dinner. I went to a sub sandwich type chain and had a decent sub. But after walking around for a while, I was quite disappointed and still quite hungry. I decided I might grab some street meat or something, and shifted my path home in a different way than I would normally. On this unscheduled route, one word stuck out from the background of billboards and electric signs: WINGS

Was it true? That I had passed a new wing place, that only a short time ago I had walked so very near on my way to SIZZLERS??? Could this KC Wings & Ribs not only be a close wing source, but also a replacement for the now defunct Wing House??? I went in and chatted up the cashier woman. I asked how long had they been open? "About 5 months now" (5 months!!! how had I not known!?!?!?). I asked about their over 50 flavours, about their specials and the favourites. I ordered some wings to take home for a preliminary review. I got home and I tried them; they were good, despite being a little soggy and cold after my travel back to my room in the cold wet rain. They were good enough to go back and do a full review with Ryan.

KC Wings and Ribs is trying to be a sports bar in a space and an area without any real sports bars as competition. True, wings and sports often go hand in hand, but the atmosphere despite the sports posters and flatscreen tv's with 'the game' was more like a student hang out, Ryan noted, than a sports bar. The staff were friendly, the customers few but most seemed like returners which seemed like a good sign. We were also dinning late, so its pretty good at 11pm on a Tuesday that there is several people in a tiny restaurant.

The menu provides many deep fried treasure and other appetizer style food. Ryan tested the nachos, his favourite. Ryan is to Nachos as I am to wings. When his food arrived, while looking appetizing, he noted the lack of toppings and cheese. The chips, which had a deep fried taste to them were not in the style that he prefers, but they met his Tex-Mex needs.

We both agreed that the potato skins needed to be sampled next time as the description sounded so good. With all the finger foods on the menu, there were meal items such as ribs, chicken fingers and fish and chips, this place's specialty are the wings.

2007 THE SCORE 3.0: KC Wings & Ribs (Toronto)
dusted, deep fried
$7.95 for 10 wings (one flavour)
$13.95 for 20 wings (one flavour)
$21.25 for 30 wings (one flavour)
$33.75 for 50 wings (up to 3 flavours)
$67.50 for 100 wings ( up to 4 flavours)
$128 for 200 wings ( up to 8 flavours)
$185 for 300 wings ( up to 10 flavours)
over 50!!! I had American, Snake Bite & KC bomb
KC Bomb: burning
wet and some cases VERY wet
celary sticks, blue cheese
napkin, wetnap, bone plate
apparently they used to have one on Mondays, no more
dedication to wings! Coke comes from a can so no free refills.
good wing place

First the wings, then the sauces. The wings were an acceptable size. Not big, but not small either. They were definitely meaty and with a dusting on the skin, a textured bite that was guaranteed, at least for when the wings were their freshest out of the fryer. The chicken itself was good, but these babies could soggify in not a long period of time because of the breading a lots of sauce.

As for the sauces, this was another place with a lot to choose from. With over 50 flavours from dry seasonings to crazy concoctions, there's something for everyone. The problem with many wing specific places that have hundreds of flavours are a) not describing the sauces and b) not allowing more than one sauce to be sampled until you order 50 wings. And KC's is not different. Well, I shouldn't say that. When I ordered the wings I asked for the order of 20 with half and half and the waiter didn't charge me for two separate orders.

On the preliminary visit I ordered the 'American' sauce. This is just good old fashion hot sauce and butter. It was familiar, done well, but not too preachy. There was little to no bite in terms of spicy heat, but the flavour was good.

On this particular visit I debated about what to order. I enquired about 'Killer Bee', which turned out to be honey garlic and hot sauce, which I rejected on principal. I did want that honey taste mixed with spice, so I ordered 'Snakebite', which is honey mustard and hot sauce mixed. This was a great combination with only a quick spike of heat but more flavour over all.
The second sauce I picked was their 'dreaded 'KC Bomb', which on their scale was 6 peppers. On my first visit, the female server told me there was another hot sauce not on the menu, 'H Bomb', but they were out that night. I decided not to try that yet and figured the 'KC Bomb' would let me judge which way to go. It smelled similar to 3rd Degree, had a similar flavour, but a lot more kick. At first I could mow the wings down no problem. By the time I left the restaurant I had a stinging on my lips, a cough in my throat and a bit of a runny nose. I wasn't suffering, but I certainly enjoyed the kick.

The wings had enough sauce on there to make me happy. Some wings had less than others, but there were a few small pools to splash the wings in. On the side was traditional blue cheese and celery, which was expected but nothing outstanding.

FINAL SCORE: I was very happy with my KC Wings & Ribs wings. They are cooked just right, with sauces that are made with what I can only believe is love. Just like the old Wing House, they seem proud of their wings here but they also seem to be aware of their limitations - they know their hottest is not that hot. But their dedication to flavours and wings that aren't just slapped together will guarantee that I will be back and sampling more flavours the next time I come (BBQ on fire? Hot Senorita anyone?). If only I had known sooner about this place. . . 14/20
Oh, and I asked about the KC in the name; the waiter said it was the first two initials of the owner, but he couldn't remember what they were. Fair enough, I only really care about the wings. Plus, eating so late caused some wicked nightmare/dreams, and I definitely had heartburn from the Bomb all night long!

KC Wings & Ribs
374(A) Yonge Street, Toronto

Thursday, 6 December 2007



Amongst the plethora of restaurants in the immediate area, Korean bbq's, Mc D's, Hoops Pub, shwarma and many others sits a tiny little place known to few as Sizzlers on Yonge. I had passed this place countless times, but decided to pop in. The various cheap deals intrigued me, and when I saw wings on the menu, I was here to stay.

The ordering counter is as soon as you walk in. Sizzlers specializes in burgers, kebobs, roasted chicken, and deep fried dishes. The wonderful smell of flame broiled burgers, which I could see grilling with melted cheese nearly made me reconsider my wing choice. Almost everyone ordering take-out or sitting down were ordering these ground beef wonders. There were two guys taking orders and flipping burgers. Both were very friendly and accommodating, and I loved what seemed to be the head guy, with a crazy amount of hair not unlike this guy:

(not an actual photo)

I ordered my wings as well as some onion rings and took a seat in the small sitting area. There is no decoration to speak of, just plain painted walls, a few tables, and seemingly a lot of happy customers. John Tesh and easy listening music gave the atmosphere one of eat and go, or just go.

Crazy Hair asked me what kind of sauce I wanted on my wings; I stumbled not expecting the question and said "hot" - "just hot?" - "ya hot". I missed what my other options were. Why didn't I ask? Only because he was asking across the restaurant and I am uncomfortable with strangers listening to anything I am talking about (and yet I write a blog for the wing nation . . .). I got up thinking my Styrofoam container of wings would be ready, when Crazy Hair started bringing me the wings. We met halfway in the middle of the place, with me awkwardly taking the plates (not containers as I had expected) from him and sitting down. I was so thrown off because its such a take-out place I wasn't expecting table service. And two minutes later I had to go back up and ask for a drink because I didn't initially order one. I hate having social awkwardness issues. At least wings and I have an understanding and we get along just fine. Usually.

deep fried
$3.99 for 6
$6.49 for 12
$11.99 for 24
$21.99 for 48
hot (?) they asked how I wanted it, and I said hot
0.5 – small! wing does have tip
1.5 – there was a dabbling of sauce
-1 they were pretty overcooked
0h , I really didn’t want to give that score, but they aren’t worth anyone’s time
I had to scavange the tables for napkins
all the other food at this place looked good!
pretty terrible wings

Three words hit me as soon as I saw the wings: "Tiny. Burnt. Frank's."
TINY: these wings were small. Pidgeon wings if the tips weren't still attached. So little meat on the bone.

BURNT: they were overcooked. The tips were so crips, I could eat them bones and all because they disintegrated in my mouth.

FRANK's: apparantly hot is Frank's RedHot Sauce. Not even mixed with butter or anything.

The overall state of the wings was just dissapointing. I wasn't pissed off at them or cursing them. I ate them in silent, apathetic acceptance that this place just doesn't do wings. I was shocked how low a score they recieved, but the New Score 3.0 clearly shows that bad wings don't deserve points. Sizzlers wings do not sizzle.
On the other hand, my onion rings were simply delightful. Light, crispy, without any harsh onion bite - they were near perfect. These were not frozen cookie-cutter rings; clearly they were homemade. And just like the burgers and other food around me, this place clearly has its niche, and wings just shouldn't be on the menu.

FINAL SCORE: Don't. Just don't. Don't even look at the wings on the menu. Don't even think about it. But the burgers, the fries, the rings - they all looked good. Check it out. Just not the wings, for your own good. 2/20

Sizzlers on Yonge
460 Yonge Street, Toronto

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Frank's Red Hot Caesar 'spicer'

This HSR, Hot-Sauce-Review, was prompted by a small purchase made the other day. About a week ago, I volunteered my baking services for a bake sale, with the proceeds going to HIV/AIDS awareness. There was also a silent auction, raffle and film fest as well. I had suggested a "Spicy Wing Competition" to raise money by having people 'bet' on who could eat the spiciest wing (with me competing of course) but the nutritious-minded Chef said it went against their Healthy Eating campaign. (Bah! They were just scared I could handled their hottest!).

While I am not a cookie maker or a baker be, my talents went towards creating some appetizers for the event. I made some pizza sticks and some pinwheels. For both I knew I would need some hot sauce, and when I want a good hot sauce I turn to Frank's Red Hot. I went to the local grocery store, and not wanting a big bottle (because I'm basically living out of a hotel room and a suit case) or to pay the higher price, I saw on one shelf lower a bottle half that in stature to a regular Frank's.

I was intrigued: Frank's Red Hot Caesar 'spicer'. Advertised, "For the perfect Caesar" and "it will add the perfect blend of heat and flavour to all your favourite cocktails" - I wondered what this little bottle had that Frank's normal sized bottles didn't. What made it special for the "perfect Caesar"?

The ingredients on the back revealed little:

  • aged cayenne peppers
  • distilled vinegar
  • water
  • salt
  • natural flavour and garlic powder

In fact, it was identical to the standard bottle's ingredients right down to the order.

I opened the bottle and took a sniff: smelled the same. I looked down the spout: looked the same. There was only one more test I could do without involving a chemist and some equipment. Without anything to snack on at the time, I presented the back of the hand, and let the juice of the gods pour out.

I took a deep breath in, letting the cayenne and vinegar explore though my olfactory. And then I took the plunge.

I was the victim of Marketing Duck Syndrome. The old saying goes, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck . . . well, this was just plain old Frank's marketed in a smaller bottle to appeal to the cocktail enthusiasts.

While Frank's Red Hot is THE hot sauce of choice for everyday use, don't buy this just for Caesars. Buy the full bottle, and enjoy it on everything.

PS: the bake sale went well, and totalled with the silent auction and raffle, over $2500 was raised. Way to stay classy Chestnut!