Thursday, 15 January 2009


- RIP - Hooley's is NOW CLOSED

Sometimes I make decisions on trying new wings based purely on economics. Times are tough, I didn't have lunch, and I wanted a lot of food. Therefore I needed to try some place with a wing night.

There aren't a lot of Wednesday wing nights in Ottawa, and the one's I did find were not really exciting to me. Then I came across one place that has the entire menu 1/2 price on Wednesday nights, and, well, I was there.

Hooley's is a Pub/Club. The front half is a pub if for food with a slight Maritime theme to it. The back half is a club on weekends for dancing and drinking. When I came in I just had the overwhelming feeling of student pub. Elgin Street is full of clubs and bars and right from when I entered that's what I guessed would take shape for the weekend.

The customers were definitely a mix - 40 somethings, 20 somethings, an elderly lady by herself, and a few students. The 'hostess' gave me the option of a big dark booth at the front, or a bright high table in the back. Normally I would hate the high table, but the booth was really really dark. I took the bright area to do photos, but I have to warn you, the photos turned out terrible. I didn't want to use the flash, especially with all the staff right beside me.

Speaking of staff, my waitress Allison was friendly and helpful. She got me a refill on my pop without asking, and in the end didn't even charge me for the drink!

The menu is mainly pub classics. What really intrigued me was the Maritime flare of Halifax Donairs, Donair pizza and Garlic Fingers (pizza dough with garlic, mozzarella and donair sauce). I love Donair sauce and Halifax Donairs, remember? So while I was there I had to get the garlic fingers. Hey, they were 1/2 price - how could I resist?

The garlic fingers came out and they looked good. Doughy, cheesy, and garlicky. It might look like a pizza in the photo, but think really good garlic sticks or bread in wedge form. The best part was their donair sauce. So sweet. Allison (who also loves this dish) told me it was homemade. I guess I can't buy it at a store, so I will have to come back to get my fix. But I didn't come for Halifax bar food, I came for the wings.

2009 THE SCORE 3.2: Hooley’s Pub~ Ottawa
Dusted, deep fried
$11.99 for 1lb (approx 10 wings) - EXPENSIVE
  • Mild/medium/hot
  • Honey Garlic
  • Caribbean Jerk
  • Cajun
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Smokey BBQ
  • Red Thai
  • Suicide
Suicide: tingle-burnging. There was some heat, but dissapointing for ‘Iron Stomachs Only’
Suicide=mushy – some visible sauce
Smokey BBQ=wet , lots of sauce
Medium-large and a medium meaty factor
Crisp and crispy
Suicide was decent
BBQ was great
Celery, shredded carrot on cabbage leaf with sour cream
Monday $4.75 wings
Wednesday 1/2 price menu (wings are $5.99)
Patio (in alley), dance club (basement), Coke (free refills . .. actually I got my coke for free).
Good wings – good size, good bbq sauce

I got a feast of wings - two orders of ten to do some sampling. Suicide and Smokey BBQ. They came on long white rectangular plates, with a side of celery, shaved carrot on a cabbage leaf. With the Ottawa standard, sour cream. Allison said she was going to bring me a wing plate, but the small table was already filled with wings and garlic sticks, pop and my books.

The wings were dusted in flour and spices, then deep fried. The sizes of the wings ranged from medium to quite large, and they were about a medium meatiness. They were slightly on the chewy side, but more than edible. The chicken was spiced well, and would have been relatively tasty on its own without sauce.


The menu had a small warning about the suicide. It wasn't flashy like some places, but a simple message: "Suicide Warning from chef: 'Iron Stomachs only, no refunds for wimps.'" Well, that spells challenge to me. My first look at the suicide and my first thought was 'suicide salsa'.

This is what I personally refer to sauces that look like a salsa because its full of chopped peppers and sometimes other bits (onion, garlic etc). I'm not a big fan of 'suicide salsa' as it becomes more about the peppers than the flavour of the sauce. Sure it can have a kick, but I'm often not a fan of the flavour. Hooley's suicide was like this, but fortunately they were only lightly drizzled in sauce. I was very disappointed in the heat - as it was barely a hot on my scale.

This is was a big winner for me. First they were really wet, thick and sticky, the way I like bbq wing sauce. The sauce was a 'dark' bold flavour, similar to a Bullseye type sauce. I wouldn't mind a little spice for heat, but I like the sweetness it provided.

I actually sped though eating most of the suicide first, so I could savour the bbq last. I haven't had a bbq wing sauce this good in a while.

FINAL SCORE: Before I left, I hadn't read much about Hooley's or their food. When I got there and saw the 'student bar' feel, and a 1/2 price menu, I didn't expect much. And when I got home I found an article from an Ottawa local magazine that trashed their food when they first opened in 2006.

Well, the food might have been bad back then, but I was happy with my meal. Good wings, great Halifax import cuisine. I don't think I would ever come on a weekend, but Wednesday was a good night. Not too busy, and not too young, if you know what I mean. 7.5/10

Hooley's Pub
292 Elgin St,

PS: really sorry about the photos once again.


Teena in Toronto said...

The garlic fingers look delish!

Randy in China said...

Hi WK, I remember Hooley's from when I lived in Ottawa. I rarely went there, but when I did, I was happy. Next time you can try the burgers, they were great!

Lord of the Wing said...

Randy, at a bar, in Ottawa????