Thursday, 4 June 2009

BUSTERS BAR & GRILL ~ Ottawa, On

When I first arrived in Ottawa I did what I always do: searched the Internet for chicken wings. One of the places that came up in the search was a place called Buffalo Charlies which was located at the Lincoln Heights mall. But after going to said mall to Wal-Mart, there was only a vacant restaurant where Charlie's used to be. A few months ago at the mall again, I noticed signs of renovations. A new restaurant/pub was coming, which meant the possibility of wings. I was excited and was hoping to go the opening week.



But then I didn't. Life got busy and the opportunity never showed up. That is until last week. Busters sits at the front of the mall. Sort of. You see the Lincoln Heights mall is really strange as its built into a hill, making it two levels. The lower level is only Wal-Mart, a recently converted Metro grocery, and a Dr's office. The upper level is a mish mash of independent stores and as far as I can tell, not a chain amongst them. It looks like a dying mall that just won't give up, and good for them. Busters is on the upper level and has both a mall entrance and an outside area with a patio.



I went in through the mall and was surprised to find the doors closed. The place was open, just closed doors. I have never seen a restaurant in a mall that a) wasn't open to the mall or b) at least had its doors open to encourage people to enter. I guess they keep it closed because of the noise of the pub. As soon as I walked in there was a sign saying to go to the front door for the hostess to seat you.




Busters is a sports pub with hopes of being a chain one day (before even becoming successful, there are links on their website for franchise opportunity). As I walked from the mall entrance to the outdoor one, I noticed everyone in the 'dining' section was actually standing around, watching flat screen tv's and some game (hockey I think). It was weird. The crowd was old guys, business guys, and more guys. Throughout the pub are hanging hockey jerseys of various teams. The decor is wood panneling and mellow paint options.


When I got to the front, I waited as instructed, feeling a little foolish having just gone on a self tour. A manager(?) was passing by quickly, did a double take, and grabbed me a menu and said I could choose whatever table in my section I wanted. So I did. My server (name forgotten) came around and was friendly and competent. I looked through the menu, but I already knew what I was getting. It was wing night after all.

Wing night at Busters is 1/2 price, so I couldn't resist sampling two flavours. Not that there was much on the menu in the way of sauces.




About 10 wings come in an order. They are deep fried naked, then sauced. Classic. No dusting or breading, just natural hot wings.



The wings were about a medium in size. Nothing special. The chicken was a medium meatiness.




Crispy skin was right on - any longer in the deep fryer and they would have been rock hard.



HOT
As soon as these hit my table I was sent back in time. They smelled just like my Jaco wings when I was a kid (the first memories I have of having wings was on family trips to the American side of Niagara Falls, getting albeit tiny wings but a TON of wings in a bucket, either eating them at Jaco's, or in hotel room. Spicy smelling, vinegar, and crispy chicken. Busters managed to capture that memory almost perfectly.


However, hot is nothing special as a sauce, except for strange people like me with wing fetishes. It wasn't spicy, and the taste is relatively generic. It was special more for the memories than for being a good wing.




BBQ
BBQ wasn't on their wing sauce menu but I thought why not. It was under their dipping sauces and they describe it as "Buster’s BBQ sauce" so I thought it might be homemade and interesting.



It wasn't a thick style BBQ sauce. Thin, slightly sweet but more in a glaze way than in a tomato based sauce. It made me think of an oven rib sauce, if there is such a thing. While it wasn't bad on wings, I wouldn't order it on my wings again.



FINAL SCORE: Would I come back to Busters? Yes. I would definitely come back for wing night. But I'm not crazy about the sports, or the crowd. And the wings aren't anything special, but they take me back to my first times eating wings. Service was good too. But that's just me and maybe I was just sentimental. 6/10




Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre,
2525 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, ON

7 comments:

Chris said...

I wanted wings so bad last night but got outvoted and had to settle for nuggets from Chickfila. Thats okay, I made buffalo sauce and added some Sriracha to it to toss them in!

Anonymous said...

Interesting Bustsr's review. I find the wings there as good as any place in the city. The food is great for a bar and grill type setting, much better than some of the well known competition.

The one mistake I did notice was that you mentioned a lack of sauces for the wings. There are at least 7 dipping sauces on the menu. It also is a not just a sports bar, but a mix of a sports bar and a family type diner with decent prices and good services.

We are now regulars there.

Lord of the Wing said...

Chris - outvoted, that sucks. But at least you got close to wings!

Anon - You right, it is better than some of the competition. But regarding the sauces, there are only a few official 'wing sauces' but I mentioned that there are other dipping sauces (like the BBQ that I had) in THE SCORE.

As for the sports bar, I labelled it as such because of all the sports on tvs and memorabila, but that doesn't mean that the place is just a watering hole.

What's your favourite wing flavour there?

Anonymous said...

I went back and had a bad batch of wings. We were told that the old cook who did our wings was let go. This time they were overcooked. Rather disappointing.

They need more choices of dipping sauce. Wild wings has so so many more.

Avoid the bathrooms. My sister said the woman's bathroom was not maintained.

Lord of the Wings said...

Anonymous: That's sad to hear about the cook being let go and the wing quality dropping. And the bathroom. I heard they were named one of the best wings in Ottawa by A-Channel, but I haven't been back to see yet.

Anonymous said...

Really now, comments on the bathroom .... the place is fairly new - when I was in the mens restroom I found them very clean. I as well had the wings, the server mentioned a hot mixed with honey garlic, I thought what an odd mixture but I did so love them! I wouild go back for sure. I find the night staff more fun and friendly then the day staff, not sure why, just do.

Lord of the Wings said...

Anon - I can't speak for the washrooms, I never tried them. I'm not a fan of Honey Garlic in general, but I know people that love the mix with hot sauce. Thanks for the input!