I'm pretty comfortable going to places and ordering wings without anyone. Taking photos by myself is still a bit strange I admit, but I can deal with it. But there are always eateries that I'm curious to go to, but avoid. Perhaps they are small and I'm afraid I won't be able to take pictures without making a scene. Or I might stick out in the crowd. Or its so busy that getting a table for 1 might be tres awkward. Those places I wait until my girlfriend or friends can go to. Otherwise, I never try them because there is just something that makes me uncomfortable. The Carleton Tavern was one of those places, until now.
The inside is just as I imagined it, and just like the above photo made it out to look like. Tavern-like decor, uncomfortable wood chairs and tables, and no music. The place was established in 1935. The crowd was, well it could have been the same people (just kidding). I was by far the youngest patron in the joint. It was early, so there was really only a group at the back, a cowboy (I kid you not), and two guys sitting beside me.
My encounters with my waitress were, interesting. No she was not the old-bar wench I expected, she was in her 20's, but moderately surly. Maybe surly is a bit harsh. She seemed confused as to me being there, let alone by myself (it is possible my paranoia was on high alert, but I don't think so). She asked if I wanted a drink . . . :Coke or Pepsi" I asked. She kind of just stared at me, "well, which one? Coke or Pepsi?" oh, I had no way of knowing I could have both. 'Coke' I said. "Do you want a menu or . . ." she asked with suspicion. "Yes please."
The menu came and there were no wings on it. Lots of good sounding grub from cheap burgers and hot dogs, sandwiches, appetizers and Montreal Smoked Meat, but no wings. But I know they have wings because I've seen the banners outside advertising as such (see above photo). When she came back (she never did tell me her name), I said I would get the wings. "How do you want them?" "What kind of sauces do you have?" "The usual kinds" - and that was when the surly hit hardest. The usual kinds? What does that mean? My guess is that means Mild, Medium, Hot, and Honey Garlic . . . but I decided to wait out an answer. Then she listed the sauces: " Mild, Medium, Hot, Honey Garlic, BBQ, Cajun, Thai, Teriyaki. Holy smokes - that's more than just 'the usual'!
Somehow I managed to pick two sauce for my wings. It wasn't long before I had my can of Coke and two baskets of wings in front of me.
The wings were on for $0.35 a piece, and I went with 10 wings each of hot and bbq. The wings are deep fried then tossed in sauce. Very simple, very straight forward.
The wings were bigger than I expected: I thought pigeon sized wings for sure. I was wrong. About a medium wing. And some were pretty meaty. All the wings were very juicy - tender and moist. But they were not crispy enough for my liking. While the meat was cooked, the skin was just not deep fried long enough.
FINAL SCORE: My experience was not great here. I felt out of place on my own here and I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. My server did not make me feel welcome. Not unwelcome, and no one really didn't do anything to me. That being said, everyone else there seemed to be having a good time. But then again, they were almost twice my age, with their friends, drinking beer. Good times for them.
I did not care for the chicken wings, at all. If I went back, and with a crew or at least one other person, I would happily try the poutine, burgers or the smoked meat. But wings will not be in my order. 4/10