Wednesday, 30 September 2009



Wow, there is a lot to go over and I don't know where to begin.

First, I'm sorry to my Toronto peeps. Yes, I was in Toronto, and had wings without contacting anyone. But, I had limited time. No really. See I was home this weekend for my good friends Brad and Amanda's (or Bramanda as they are often refereed to on this site) wedding in which I was a groomsmen. I had a nightmare trying to get home Friday for the rehearsal (LJ was stuck with last minute work, my tux rental was wrong again and I had to stop in Kingston to pick up the Puralated new one, mega traffic & construction along the way etc.) Anyways, the wedding was great (aside from being outdoors and it raining all Saturday). On Sunday we had to leave early for a wedding shower LJ had to go to on the Danforth in Toronto. Sunday traffic meant it took 1 hour to get from the Missasauga/Toronto border to the Danforth. And not that she could stay long (still a stop in at LJ's parents and a 4 hour drive) but basically an hour for me to kick around, and we were late due to traffic and who could I contact at last minute (PS - congrats to Nee & Rayzor who also got married this weekend! I'm sure you would have been busy). So again, sorry. Whew!

So while the wedding shower was on the Danforth, I saw a little joint a block away that I knew I was going to get something to eat to fill in the rough hour I had in Toronto. If I knew when I was coming to TO, and was staying for longer, I would definitely called someone and went to one of many other places to try, but this place fit in a pinch. This place was Wild Wings Sports Pub.

And I know what some people are thinking: "You were in Greektown and could get great Greek food after the not-so-great Greek food you have to endure in Ottawa and you went for wings?" Yes. I have a sickness and that is why this is Lord of the Wings, not Lord of the Soulvaki.

Wild Wings is not to be confused with the chain Wild Wings. This place has been on the Danforth for a long time - when I lived in Toronto and went to Greektown, I would see this place, but never went in because, well, it looked a little skeasy. Regular 'bar flies' hanging out out front and inside kinda drove me away. But this day, with precious minutes counting down and me having a jonesing for wings and a slightly brave feeling, in I went.

The sign out front looks over 20 years old. So does the inside. The same bar flies I passed several years ago are the same ones I saw standing outside and up at the bar this day I'm sure. The bar itself is right upfront, flanked by booths, each with its own tv showing 'the game' and reminding patrons this is a sports bar. There's a pool table, Foosball, and arcade games to entertain. Classic rock on the radio at the front and Asian contemporary music in the back made for an interesting contrast.

I sat in a booth and waited for some service. Eventually the bartender 'John' came around and pointed at a menu. I nodded yes and took it, glancing over the 100+ wing sauces (but again, this is not the chain with over 100 sauces). Some great names, but I have no idea what is in 'Hot Beach' or 'Rush Hour'. Descriptions would be nice. I waited to ask John. 5 minutes went by. 10. Then 15. I was getting pretty upset at this point. I'm very patient, but I was on a time limit, and no one coming around was enough to push me to just leave. I started packing up, when John finally came back around. I gave in and decided to just order.

I asked him "what flavour is 'Wild Wing'?" one of their 'special' sauces. John looked like I had asked him which of his children I should kill. I don't think his English was very good, and he went and got a woman behind me who I could hear having a passionate conversation in a language I could not identify. He took the phone and she came to my table, wiping her eyes, apologizing for having been on a long distance phone call. (my theory is John doesn't speak much English, was waiting for his wife? to take my order, but she was on the phone and thus I sat waiting). She was very helpful in explaining various flavours:

There was so much to choose from, and she had a few suggestions for flavours, and influenced one of my decisions. I ended up ordering their daily special ($8.99 for a lb and a pint of house lager) and another order of wings (which turns out comes with fries). Yes, I went with the pint of beer. I went cheap when I got a drink with my wings AND it was still cheaper than a regular order. And I have to admit, I didn't mind their beer. Of all the beer I have ever drank, this was the 'best' I have had.

I didn't realize the regular order came with fries, but it was a nice side. I suspect the fries were frozen, but either way, they were great. Crispy, light, so good. I couldn't finish all the fries and my waitress was like "you didn't like the fries? If you didn't like, we could have given more wings!" I tried to interject and mentioned the fries were good, I just couldn't eat any more. But then I was kinda sad I didn't get more wings! (then again, I was very very full).

Not only did the regular order of wings come with fries, they also came with a couple pieces each of celery, carrot and dip (I can't remember if it was ranch or bleu cheese, but at least it wasn't sour cream!).

The wings came in orders of about 8 to a pound. They were very wet, and came battered which gave them a crispy coating. I'm pretty sure it was a batter over a breading due to the airy-nature of the flaky bite. And even with all the sauce, they remained nice and crisp.

The wings themselves were about a medium in size and decently meaty. Yes a bigger wing would have been great, but there was nothing to really complain about regarding the chicken.

I'm a sucker for all things dill. Pickles, chips, popcorn, and of course, wings. I expected a creamy dill and hot sauce mixture like the other Wild Wing, but instead I got a wing tossed in hot sauce that was mixed with dill weed.

I didn't think this was the best way to go, but after one bite, I was really digging these. The contrasting tart dill and the piquant hot make for an excellent, intriguing sauce combo. I was very happy that there was lots of sauce for extra dippin.

I had inquired with the waitress over their hottest sauce (whose heat came from an added extract shot), as well as the 'Wild Wing' flavour - which was a Cajun/Honey Mustard/Hot Sauce combo. 'Hot Shot' was just the next hotter version of 'Wild Wing' and the interesting mix of sauces really appealed to me over a super suicide.

The sauce was all over my mouth and it took me a second to take it all in. By the time I got the wings I had forgotten what three things made up the sauce. I could taste the hot. Then I was like, was there BBQ? No it was the honey mustard I could taste. I couldn't taste the Cajun spices specifically, but I knew there was something else going on in there. I didn't immediately love it, but by the last few wings, I was enjoying them immensely.

FINAL SCORE: My expectations were pretty low going in, but I was pleasantly surprised. The wings were not of frozen fare, and there definitely some home-mixing and tinkering with sauces. While my initial service was a put-off, I'm sure that it was a blip in the daily routine. The woman was excited that I might be a new regular, but looked very sad when I mentioned I was just stopping through Toronto (again, sorry to everyone I didn't meet up with).
The wings were not out of this world, but they were decently prepared. The fries were hot and crisp, and even I didn't mind the house lager. If your feeling adventurous, want to go to a dive, and maybe play an arcade game with some wings, the non-chain Wild Wings is definitely and experience to try. 6/10

Wild Wings Sports Pub
402 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, On

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Coca-Cola Chicken Wings

As you may or may not know yet, Dude is back from China. And two weeks ago he stayed with us for week. We went on some adventures, ate some wings, ate some more wings and well, ate more wings. On the last wing eating, we made wings. And not just any wings, Coke Wings. I have to apologize, because this was 2 weeks ago now. I'm a little behind in my posting.

First off, I'm a Coke man. As is Dude, as is most of my group of friends from high school. My family, actually most people I know. That is not to say I won't drink Pepsi, or RC or some other brand. I'm not so much of a snob that I can't enjoy another cola, but Coca-Cola is my favourite. Knowing this, and being a Coke man himself, Dude on one of his last days in The People's Republic enjoyed a recipe for wings that he knew I would enjoy. And boy is it easy.



  • chicken wings, split (or not it's up to you), cleaned.
  • 1 litre of Coca-Cola Classic (you could substitute Diet, Zero or some other cola, but it won't be the same).
  • Salt & Pepper.

  1. Season wings.
  2. In a pot/wok on very high heat, brown wings (about 5 mins)
  3. Add in Coke until wings are covered (amount will vary on pot/wok and/or amount of wings).
  4. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, for about 30-40 minutes until Coke become syrupy and wings are dark in colour.
  5. Plate wings and pour thick-syrup leftover all over wings, serve and enjoy!

Dude watched the chef cook the wings right in front of him. And it is so simple. Brown wings, season wings, boil wings.

Pouring in the Coke. We used about 12 wings and not even a full litre of Coke. Dude tried making this recipe just before coming to Ottawa but it didn't work - we think it was because he didn't have the heat on high enough to transform the liquid Coke into more of a syrup.

I kept the heat on high and the wings stirred constantly.

Ok, I know, the above photo does not look appetizing. In general, boiled wings don't sound appetizing, but I was willing to stick things through and see how it turned out.

Wings are cooked and served up. The Coke had turned into a dark syrup, which you can barely see in the above photo hidden at the bottom. I should have let them go just a bit longer (Dude said the wings were much darker at the restaurant he first had them).

Of course the wings were not going to be crispy. They were 'fall off the bone' in that they just fell apart in your hands. The meat was very tender.

The flavour was actually not very Coke-like. If it was a blind taste test, I would have guessed teriyaki sauce. But for the amount of Coke it boiled in, it was very surprising. It was sweet, but not terribly so.

Dude and I dug in. LJ tried a little bit, but this was not for her. We scarfed these wings down as well as some Buffalo wings and poutine. It was a good contrast in flavours, the sweet vs the savoury.

What Would I Do Differently Next Time? The first thing I would do is cook it a little longer to get an even thicker syrup. But I got impatient and hungry and, well, it was go time. Also, I had looked at a few similar recipes and they added things like garlic and ginger. I think there was something lacking and a few more spices and ingredients would really jazz this up.

Coca-Cola wings, what will they think of next? Cherry Coke Wings? Hey, that's not a bad idea . . .

Friday, 25 September 2009

Toronto Star on Wings

Susan Sampson at the Toronto Star has an article today on chicken wings titled: "Once in a while, wing it."

A fluff piece in my opinion. It doesn't capture the essence of wings, the excitement, the love of wings. The focus seems to be on the calories in wings, but her title is "Once in a while, wing it". Fear mongering and just a weak article on such a great topic. It meanders through beer and restaurants and I don't even get the impression the author likes wings. I don't understand the point of the article or the need. Lame AND fail in my opinion.

Thursday, 24 September 2009



I'm still catching up on last week with Dude visiting (having been in China for the past two years), and the night before wet his appetite for wings, so more were in order. He was excited for us to keep exploring places and going off the wing path for some poultry treats that neither him nor I had been to before.

We hopped on a bus, and we headed down to Rochester street, to the Rochester Pub & Eatery. I had never been there before, and I had actually tried to go on Labour Day Weekend, but they were closed. Surrounded by government buildings, I get the impression it would be quiet enough location to justify closing for a weekend. But this was a Wednesday, so our hopes were high that they would be open.

I should mention we were going for wings, but I had no evidence they even had wings. No online menu, no comments online, no menu in their window. Just a guess, but it was a highly rated little pub, so I was sure something good would be on the menu.

The Rochester is an old house remodeled into a pub. The moment I saw the place I knew I was going to like it. One online comment on said "This would be a great pub to hole up in during a Zombie attack." I agree. Images of the Winchester from Shaun of the Dead definitely came to mind.

The inside is nothing special - fading paint with nothing updated in years. But instead of looking like crap, it was part of the atmosphere here. It felt homey. We were the first ones in for the day, and our waitress Ashley was enjoying a novel at the bar. When people did start arriving (and the place filled up quick) it was office drones and older locals. Customers were obviously repeats as Ashley walked up to two young government guys and predicted their orders to a T. She was great, friendly service, but let us be at the same time.

Once again, wings were on order for us. Medium for Dude, and Hot with a side of BBQ for me.

We didn't wait long, and I was happy again at a big plate of wings that smelled so good.

The wings come in one pound, but a Rochester pound had about 12 decent sized wings, making me question how other places measure a pound.

The wings were dusted and then deep fried. They came out hot and crispy. Dude's medium were very saucy while mine had the sauce soaked up into the wings.

The wings were medium to large and fairly meaty. Actually, while they could have been bigger, they were close to perfectly cooked wings.

I have to say Dude's wings rocked. Most places mild/medium/hot is just degrees of hot sauce with the heat varying due to the amount of butter added. But here, Medium and Hot were two completely different sauces.

Medium was more like a BBQ sauce, but dang it was good. I have to admit, I snuck several of these wings off of Dude's plate. And they were really saucy too, which I like.

I went with my standard hot. Hot they were not. The spice was as hot as Frank's Hot Sauce gets.

They were pub classic. The sauce had entrenched itself into the skin, but it wasn't soggy. I prefer the wings to be saucy, and I did find a hidden deposit of pooled sauce under the bottom wings, but it was too late.

I also got a side of BBQ sauce for sampling. The sauce tasted like Diana's. It was good, but bottled.

The sauce was cold, which was a contrast to my hot wings that is not my favourite way to go. I think mixing of Hot and BBQ would make some outstanding sauce though. Actually, Medium and Hot would be even better.

FINAL SCORE: What a wonderful little pub. Whether your going for a pint or for wings or fighting zombies, this pub is a great place. The wings were hot, meaty and tasty. I asked Ashley about wing night and she reported sadly no, but Fridays there was 25% off all appetizers, and wings are under appetizers . . . so it looks like I might have to go back on a Friday. Although the price is right in general for the generous wing portion. 6/10

The Rochester Pub & Eatery
502 Rochester Street, Ottawa, On

CLOCKTOWER BREW PUB ~ Ottawa, On (Bank Street Location)

After 2 years, Dude is finally home in Canada! Teaching English in China and eating Chinese chicken wings, we decided that it was time to reacquaint him with Canadian wing fare. Dude came to Ottawa for a week long visit, and LJ was occupied this night and unable to join us, so a boys night out it was. For a long time people in Ottawa have asked/told me to go to the Clocktower Brew Pub, and it was wing night, so it was a good time to try it.

The place was busy. Our waitress Laurie stated that it wasn't as bad as most Tuesdays, where a line up out the door usually exists. We were fortunate to get a table, but it was near the door to go to the patio/basement/bathroom/pool room and a cold breeze came upon us often. The good thing was that the waitress computer station was also right behind us, so it meant we were going to have access to Laurie whether she wanted to see us or not.

As we sat, we caught up on old times, new times, and took in the very mixed crowd: young urban professionals, uni & college students, eavesdropping families (our discussions of Chinese politics and culture must have been interesting because we heard them discussing us) etc. The decor of the places is wood and brick, and we, well I had a great view of the brewing vats of their homemade beer. I also noticed everyone was having wings.

When in Rome, right? So we got wings too. Despite the crowds, Laurie served us up our orders in a decent amount of time.

There's nothing I like more than having a big old plate of wings put in front of me.

The Clocktower have a wide variety of flavours compared to most pubs, and I was in a sampling mood, so I got an order of Hot, an order of Malaysian and a side of Hot & Honey. Dude went with Spicy Maple BBQ.

The wings were about a medium to large in size, dusted, then deep fried. The skin was crunchy, tossed in generous amounts of sauce. My big complaint about the wings was the chicken itself. They were tough and labour-us to chew. My theory is that the wings were cooked up earlier in the day and are flash fried/reheated just before serving.

Dude's wings. They were very unique - but they didn't really taste like BBQ, nor did they taste like maple. Actually there was no maple at all. They did taste like an Asian sweet sauce with a hint of BBQ. Very unique and while I wouldn't eat a whole order of it, I would sample it from a wing platter.

Hot was a classic pepper hot sauce with butter. It wasn't what I would describe as hot, but I'm sure there are those that couldn't eat what I would say is medium. Dude and I swapped several wings and hot seemed to be his fave.

One reader of the blog Matt C, recommended the Clocktower a while back, and suggested the Honey Szechuan and the Sweet Chili, but he also recommended the Malaysian for its heat. I asked Laurie about it and she said it was their version of suicide (next time I'll have to try his other suggestions). "Is it just a spicier version of hot or is it a completely different sauce?" I asked. "Different sauce" she replied. Malaysian it was.

I was intrigued and couldn't wait to try them; one bite and I was back with an old friend - 3rd Degree sauce. But not just simple 3rd Degree, no this sauce had some Asian flavours in there which gave this a really unique flavour. I liked it, but 3rd Degree can have a slight chemical/additive taste. As Dude said, "It tastes like hospital, and you can quote me on that."

I also asked for the Hot and Honey on the side, but it never came, and with all the flavours at our table, I didn't need it.

FINAL SCORE: The wings had a lot of potential. Our chicken was tough and I'm pretty sure was just reheated - I hope it was just a flaw in our order and not a regular thing. But the crispy skin and variety of jazzed up sauces were good. I wanted to give them more points, but I've had bigger and better quality chicken. But the place was packed with wing lovers and people line up, so either ours were a blip, or the people don't mind. I guess I'll just have to go back to find out. 6/10.

Welcome Home Champ

Clocktower Brew Pub
575 Bank Street, Ottawa (and 2 other locations)