On my own, with access to a car - the world was my oyster, or chicken wing in my case. I could now go anywhere in the Capital region for wings. What unlimited options I had now to try a new wing place far off. But then the real problem came: where was I actually going to go?
I remember studying Soviet Cinema back in university, and one filmmaker (I can't remember his name) commented about cinema after the 'thaw' where movie makers could make movies about whatever they wanted. He basically felt that filmmaking was harder and less creative once all restrictions were lifted - a limitation forces you to work harder. While eating chicken wings may not be an art, I was now stumped about where to try new wings since I was no longer confined to LJ's needs or the Ottawa transit system. Would I go to Kanata? Napean? Gloucester?
After doing some research, I read about a pub where people praised the wings. A little place in Orleans called the Tartan. Most of the reviews were positive, but even many of the die-hard regulars claimed that the food could be hit and miss. Would the Tartan disappoint on this evening or would the Wing King go home satisfied in wing glory?
Tartan is a Scottish pub; not something you see or hear everyday. Most 'international' pubs are either British, or Irish. It is hard to define what physically makes each pub different, and often even the cuisine is similar (in this case, Haggis better be on a Scottish menu, and it was). What set Tartan apart from these other pubs, was pretty much the extensive decor around the pub of all things Scottish and tartans: ie explanation about tartans, clans, kilts etc. Oh, and the waitresses wear kilts also.
The lighting was dark, the furniture wood, and the staple big screen with sports. I was sitting in a room with a projection screen with hockey on. Thankfully, the sound was super low and the bar music was drowning it out. The music was a strange mix of Scottish classics and random Michael Bublee or popular modern folk. The crowd was mostly older, but it was clear this was a pub of regulars who even had assigned seating (when I first came in to sit, I went to take a seat near the front until the waitress informed me that a regular group usually comes in soon and that's there seats. I wasn't offended because I like a bar that looks after its own).
My waitress Justine was friendly and helpful. When I asked about the specials, she told me that there weren't any this evening. However, she told me wings would be $0.59 after 8pm. It wasn't yet 8 but she rang them in for me. A full pound of wings, and an order of deep fried pickles should do me for my night out.
When the pickles came out, I couldn't believe it. They were the largest DFP I had ever seen, and the number of them, 8, was outstanding. For $7.99 I was getting a bang up side dish (considering Royal Oak's DFP were 6 small spears for about the same price, however they were seasoned well).
The super sized DFP came about two fold:
- the pickle used was the size of a large Kosher style pickle, cut into 4.
- they were dipped in a beer batter which definitely puffed up the pickle.
The pickle was super hot when it came out, making it hard to enjoy right away. Fortunately, a cup of sour cream covered in dill was helpful in cooling them down. A great accompaniment to the the wings. Ah wings.
2008 THE SCORE 3.0: Tartan Pub & Grill ~
Dusted, deep fried
$6.99 for ½ pound
$9.99 for 1lb (10 wings)
$16.99 for 2lb
Hot was a tingle, suicide had bite
Large to jumbo
Drowning but it worked out so I altered the points
Chewy – it would have been crispy if not for the lake of sauce
Good – the suicide really kicked it of
Everything – naps, wet-naps, wing plate
Everynight!!! After 8pm wings $0.59
Huge deep fried pickles
Good wings with a few drawbacks
The first thing that caught my was how big these wings were: large. Make that jumbo. Was everything at the Tartan big? While they were dusted first, the wing came from a pretty big chicken.
The meat was a bit rubbery the first few wings I had (especially when I tried to rip apart the wingettes to get at the inner meat). The skin was chewy, but would probably have been pretty crispy if it hadn't been for the sauce. Which was the second thing I noticed when my order came out . . .
. . . the giant lake of sauce. There was more than enough sauce for all 10 of my wings. And probably 10-15 more. It was a typical cayenne pepper sauce: good but nothing original. I'm sort of torn on lakes of sauce. Yes, lots of sauce is tasty and I like having lots, but the sog factor can really dampen a wing experience. I rescued some of the deep sea diving wings and placed them on the side to breath a little. Other than that, on this occasion, the swim in the deep end didn't ruin the wings.
I was nearly halfway through my order when I realized that I didn't get my side of suicide sauce (I was really hoping that my wings weren't already swimming in the suicide, because it wasn't that hot). When Justine came by to check on my order, I asked about the sauce, she apologized and quickly got my side. When it came, I took a sniff and it smelled just like my hot. Once I dipped my wing in though, it was clear that this suicide had heat. Not expecting any heat, it caught me off guard and soon I was coughing. Now it wasn't crazy hot, but it left a numbing to my mouth for a little bit. This was a great suicide because it retained the flavour of the hot sauce, while packing a punch of heat. I ended up dumping it over the rest of the wings (refilling the lake at this point) and left me with great satisfaction of a good meal.
FINAL SCORE: Where these wings lost marks were in lack of sauce choices, lack of crispiness with slightly chewy chicken, and no sides what so ever. The highlights were a tasty wing with a great suicide sauce and jumbo wings. And jumbo DF pickles. Oh, and when I ordered 'Coke' to drink, Justine asked if Pepsi was ok - nice! With a cozy pub, good service, giant pickles and cheap wings, the Tartan was a great pub on this night of wing glory. Ok maybe not glory, but goodness. 12/20
The Tartan Pub & Grill
4025 Innes Road, Ottawa (Orleans)