Wednesday, 24 February 2010


I am a fairly independent guy. I'm an only child which forced me to do a lot of things on my own. Like play. Explore. Make friends. When I went away to University, I went to a school where no one from my high school had even applied in years, let alone actually went to. I was totally on my own in the city. I learned to see movies on my own (how I miss $3 matinees at the Paramount). And I learned to eat out on my own too.

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.

Here's the stereotype I built up in my head: a tavern is primarily a drinking hole so the clientele might be more than a little rough; I can't see inside so I don't know the layout; I picture a much older crowd than myself; a no-nonsense, hard edged old waitress; no light to take photos.

I mean the place isn't much to look at, and the crowd made me cautious. Not based on evidence, just what I imagined. In the summer, the 2 patios are always packed, so lots of people go. And they advertise a lot of food specials too. Finally, on I saw photos of the interior, so I decided to see if the Carleton Tavern was as scary as I made it out to be.

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.

One of these guys annoyed the hell out of me because while discussing business loudly (contracting? real estate? something along these lines) his cell phone, set to the highest volume and using the old-school telephone ring, went off constantly the whole time there. And sometimes he didn't check the phone for 4-6 rings!

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.

I went with two sauces, HOT as my standard to judge all places by, and BBQ. It was not hot. Like I can't even conceive of what mild would be.

Actually, the sauce was also super weak in flavour. Cayenne hot sauce I think, maybe Frank's, maybe Tabasco - it was just to minuscule to tell. So it didn't taste bad, it just didn't taste.

I did not enjoy the BBQ sauce. It was thin. Yes viscous-wise it was thin, but as a BBQ sauce it was just thin. It was not really sweet, and it wasn't savoury. It didn't have any bold kick, no hickory, no smokey. I ate these quickly to get over them. Again, the sauce wasn't terrible tasting, it just sat in my mouth not doing anything for me.

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

The Carleton Tavern
223 Armstrong St, Ottawa ON.

PS: this is a mural on the adjacent building to the Carleton Tavern for a restaurant that used to be there and connected (and ultimately incorporated into the tavern). I like it because its called the 'ugly club' and they had $0.20 wings.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

WWWWWW #11 ~ Food & Fire

Yes, World Wide Web Wacky Wing Wednesday. WWWWWW. This is where I will surf the Web, and find other people talking about chicken wings. The world is full of chicken wing stories, wacky and otherwise. Recipes, restaurant reviews, eating contests or whatever. Today's Blog relating to wings in some shape or form:

Chris at Nibble Me This sent me a link to his fellow "Egghead" (that's BBQ brethren who use Big Green Egg BBQs). The link was grilled wings. That sounded pretty good to me. Actually the link was for attempting to make his first wing sauce for grilled wings:

I like the combination of flavours in there, and some of his planned improvement sound good. I, however, would keep the heat.
This isn't his first posting about wings. Oh no. He also made some, *shudder* 'grilled Buffalo wings'. Ok, these were grilled 'hot wings' (Reminder: Buffalo wings are ONLY deep fried, and there is nothing in the sauce but cayenne sauce and butter, and vinegar). But despite that, those wings look good:

And you can't forget his grilled 'Spicy Orange Wings.' A really unique take on wings! Spicy, sweet - sounds good to me.

Mmmmmm grilled wings. Wings. Food and Fire. It's all good . . .


Some business at Université d'Ottawa/University of Ottawa (it is a bilingual school) gave me the chance to grab a bite to eat at a local pub. I was going to check out one of the school's two campus pubs, but I was parked near a place that peaked my interest for some reason.

Oh ya, I remember the reason, there was a red sign out front that had a special with chicken wings. Wow it does not take much to get me inside a place eh?

I didn't know anything about the pub; its never come on my radar via Internet, print or word of mouth. The place was an old house that was made over what looks to be a very long time ago. The furniture is probably the same as when uni students went back in the 90's.

There is just one dining room, with a little bar, a TV or two, a very old mural on one wall, and not much else. The TV had MTV while Majic100 played John Tesh and soft rock. The atmosphere was, well off to be honest.

I was expecting a lot of students from the university. The only one was my waitress I think. A lone white haired man sat in the front window. An older couple sat in the middle, and another senior couple in the other corner. Several were friendly with the head cook, "Mike" who I think is the owner as well.

My waitress Angie greeted me with "Bonjour/Hello" as I am clearly in a bilingual area. She brought me a glass of water with her, which is great service in my opinion. She was friendly, but shy. She took my order, but came back to tell me about the special combo, which I decided to take.

8 wings, fries and pop for $8.95. Not a bad little meal. And it came with a container of sour cream. My coke was was ice cold, and was delicious.

The fries were nothing special. From frozen is my guess. The were crispy and pillow soft, but I had to salt and vinegar the heck out of them, over and over, with generous amounts of ketchup to get some flavour. Hot and crispy, but flavour wimpy.

The wings are classic hot wings. Deep fried, then tossed in hot sauce. I say hot wings and not Buffalo wings because I don't think there was butter added to the hot sauce. The wings are naked (not dusting or breading).

They were a medium sized wing with a medium level of meat on the bones. The skin was deep fried crisp. Not in a way that the skin pulls away from the meat and is a crispy treat on its own; no this is where the skin and meat become one, like I remember from the old days.

There was a drizzle of sauce and the wings were tossed, which meant the wings were sloppy, but there was just a tad of sauce to dip at the bottom. I ordered hot, but as with most places hot is not. There was just a hint of spice tingle, but nothing amazing. The sauce was good, but nothing original.

FINAL SCORE: The pub itself is nothing special. But food is pretty cheap, and the service friendly. The fries weren't bad, but not great either. The wings were decent for pub classic. They won't knock your socks off (6/10 is probably a little generous), but they hit the nostalgia spot in my mouth. 6/10

The Moon Dog Pub & Grill
238 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa ON

PS: I wish I had asked about the name. I feel there is a story there. But I didn't think of it until I wrote this. Dang.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Southern Buffalo Style Wings (Pinty's)

So I'm at the grocery store, and it was the Super Bowl, which meant wings were on sale everywhere, from fresh to frozen, pubs to pizza places. I had a little bit of everything. And when I saw another frozen wing on sale, I decided it was a good opportunity to try them out.

Now if you had to guess what the name of this brand is, what would you guess? Just look at the picture above.

You guessed the brand was Southern right? Not Buffalo Style (which is misleading BTW) right?

I couldn't figure it out, until I saw at the bottom of the back of the bag under the ingredients . . . PINTY's! Why does Pinty's have another wing brand? Are these any different from their displayed name frozen wings?

The cooking instructions are the same.

I've tried cooking them two ways: baked and microwaved. I did baked for this review, and the problem with baking wings is that the skin ALWAYS sticks to tin foil, or racks. Using a rack definitely reduces the amount of skin that is torn away.

I just tried microwaving them (no photos sorry), and well, it was quick, but something is just wrong. The skin is crispy, but not in a real way, like it's zapped out instead of toasty. It was weird and I was desperate hungry. I'll still to baking frozen wings, and baking them on a rack.

The size of the wings were mostly smaller than the regular Pinty one's. But bigger than a lot of other frozen wings. Fairly meaty, not too rubbery.

The flavour of the sauce was the same as regular Pinty's, but the heat was cut waaaaay back. Barely, BARELY a tingle.

Did I enjoy the wings? Well they were wings, so pretty much ya. But nothing really stood out. I mean, I just don't understand the 'SOUTHERN' thing, or why Pinty's makes a separate brand. Hmmm, maybe I will e-mail and find out . . .
Either way, I would stick to the one's that proudly state the name Pinty's, not Southern.

I didn't bother with a SCORE, or a website, because, well, just go to my Pinty's review.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


There are several local chain/bar establishments that are unique to Ottawa. 3 big contenders. Heart & Crown, the Royal Oaks, and the other, existing more on the fringes of the Capital is Broadways. There are 11 locations in the region, but I had only been to one before, this location, meeting up with some friend/acquaintances from back home. I didn't have food, so it was about time to go back and see what I might have missed.

It's a fairly big location. There is a 'bar' area, then a large dining area split into different levels, tables, booths etc. Trying to identify what kind of place is hard. It's nicer than a tavern by far. It's kind of a sports bar, with TV's with the game on all over the place. It's friendly like a family restaurant. It all works, but nothing decor wise stands out.

It was quite quiet on this evening. A table here, a booth there. The bar was empty. My waitress Brittany said it had been really slow, at it was at it's busiest of the night. Brittany was very friendly and dedicated to her work. She took the time to learn every one's name at all the tables. She seemed genuinely concerned about everyone and their meals. And she brought me lots of refills on my pop.

I was in on a Tuesday, and my luck, it was wing night. Woot woot. Brittany went over the flavours with me, saying the Guinness BBQ was particularly good. I have had not the best experiences with Guinness BBQ sauce on wings, but I decided to go with a 1/2 XXX hot and 1/2 of the BBQ. She then suggested they could be mixed, the hot and the hickory.

I said it sounded interesting (which it did), but would stick with the two. I then got confused because she asked if I was sure about the BBQ, but then I thought she didn't understand that I did want BBQ and Hot. She explained she meant she didn't want to pressure me into getting the Guinness if I didn't want it, but I assured her I did. Funny moment.

The wings are deep fried naked, then tossed in sauce. There were about 8-10 in an order, which came with a big cup of sour cream. I felt bad because it was a big cup, but really, who puts sour cream on wings?

The chicken on its own was decent. A medium sized wing, with medium levels of meat. Not bad but not great. The wings came apart fairly easily, and the skin was just crispy enough to pass. Broadways also has breaded wings, which are an additional $2. This might have been more interesting, but I was not interested in the extra expense.

This is just Frank's Xtra Hot sauce. In fact, it might even just be Frank's. They advertise the brand either way. And either way it wasn't that hot. I mean Frank's is a good sauce, so there was nothing new here. Classic pub wings.

Guinness BBQ
As I stated before, I have had some not so enjoyable Guinness BBQ sauce for wings in the past. Usually the sauce has a sour flavour I don't like. This sauce, on the other hand, was good because it was still that savoury-sweet from the BBQ and had the hickory flavour that one wants from these wings. Still, not my favourite BBQ, but if I wasn't trying to do a base review of the sauce, I would have gone with Brittany's suggestion of mixing the two.

FINAL SCORE: If your looking to get your drink on and you want munchies, these are your wings. If you are looking for amazing wings, these are pretty meh. But the service was superb. And I was told their big for their breakfasts, so that might be the way to go. 4.5/10

Broadway Bar & Grill
1896 Prince of Wales Drive, Ottawa ON (and other locations)

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

TUMS: Wing Slap Commercial

This just might be my new favourite commercial:


Funny side note: you don't often see a full wing shown in commercials.

Super Bowl Bacon Cheese TurtleBurgers

What can I say? The people over at Interwebs Randomness and Other Inspiring Tales have created a thing of beauty, of mouthwatering desire, of simply art.

They created the Bacon Cheese TurtleBurger.

Bacon, cheese, burger, hot dogs. An amazing bacon weave, and you have such a unique looking culinary feat. I want one.
*Slow clap* Bravo!

WWWWWW #10 - Grill & Barrel's Chicken Wings on the Bubba Keg

Yes, World Wide Web Wacky Wing Wednesday. WWWWWW. This is where I will surf the Web, and find other people talking about chicken wings. The world is full of chicken wing stories, wacky and otherwise. Recipes, restaurant reviews, eating contests or whatever. Today's Blog relating to wings in some shape or form:

I came across these guys after searching wings and bbq sometime ago. A quote from their About page inspires part of my own work with wings: "I don’t cook competitively, I don’t cater (though I’ve thought about it), and I don’t own a restaurant. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t work on turning out the best BBQ that I can. "

Anyways, here is the link to their wings. They look mighty good. And simple too. And funny, as I was re-reading this post, I read the comment at the bottom, and guess who it is? Chris over at Nibble Me This. Wowzers, small world.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Chicken Farmers of Canada are checking out Lord of the Wings

A few weeks ago I was invited to an event involving the CFC that was also a local food bloggers meet up. Unfortunately I couldn't attend, but they still wanted to do an interview. Head over to where Elyse Ferland asked me a few questions!
Thanks Elyse for the interest and to Ryan Anderson for getting in touch with me to begin with.