LJ and I were off to Watertown New York again and I was determined to get some wings. I'm in New York state where Buffalo is, so I have to be able to get some good Buffalo wings right?
Watertown is an interesting place. A population of close to 30 000, the main draw to the city is the nearby US Army base Fort Drum. That and Canadians coming down to the shopping areas. And it is home to some intersting firsts according to wikipedia:
"The city is known as the birthplace of the Five and dime, the safety pin, and is the home of Little Trees car fresheners. It manufactured the first portable steam engine. It has the longest continually operating county fair in the United States and holds the Red and Black football franchise, the oldest surviving semi-professional team in the United States."
I was on a wing mission, and if your going for a local wing joint, the Wing Wagon seems like the place to go. Located in Public Square which is a city square which you don't really see in Ontario towns - actually it reminds me of the square in Hill Valley (Back to the Future) or the park where Forrest Gump sat. The Wing Wagon has been serving Buffalo wings since 1982. They must be doing something right.
Last year they went through a renovation (as I read on their website). However the place looks pretty dated inside. Also not so cool: sticky tables and not so clean chairs. No really, this was not cool.
What was cool? The staff. Two guys working behind the counter that were super friendly, ready to answer questions and were happy to help any way they could. We ordered up lots of chicken and sides and I can't tell you how excited I was.
While I knew exactly what I was getting, LJ was debating over some several tasty options. I said chicken is this places thing. So she went with the chicken fingers. Came with celery and blue cheese. There were 5 in the small order. There were a decent size, and LJ said they were good. Nothing fancy or special, but good.
They also came with a side of sauce. LJ asked for them to be tossed in sauce, but they said they couldn't. She went with the Butter-Garlic sauce. Buttery and garlicky - but it haunted us all day long.
They also had fried dough on the menu. I thought it was going to be more like pizza dough, but it turned out to be a desert dough with cinnamon butter and powdered sugar. Actually it was like a beaver tail. It was doughy, but light. It was a nice side dish. And big too - came in a pizza box!
We can't forget the main course - the Buffalo wings. Look at those full, beautiful looking containers.
Wings come in orders of 10. Even though we were eating in, they still came in Styrofoam take-out trays, with wings in one half and the veggies and dip on the other.
There was a mound of celery. Very generous serving. There was also the standard blue cheese dip. Take notice other wing joints - veggies and dip part of the package. The way it should be.
The wings were a large wing - big, meaty - perfect for a Buffalo Wing. A reminder what a Buffalo Wing is: naked wing that is deep fried and tossed in Buffalo sauce. The skin was crispy. The wings were saucy.
I talked to the guy behind the counter about the levels of heat in the wings (they have the three main heats, then x-hot, xxx-hot and insanity). I wanted to know if the sauce was a base sauce that just increased in heat, or if hot and xxx-hot were completely different sauce - but he said they make their own sauce with just increasing levels of heat.
While I was curious to try Insanity, being in another country, on a road trip, and far from home made me think to be careful to eat possibly super spicy food. Also, I wanted to try to test their baser sauce and still have some kick.
X-Hot for me was a good hot sauce. For others it would be suicide, but for me it had a good kick and a lot of buttery/vinegary/cayenne hot sauce flavour. This is more than just a classic Buffalo Wing - this was the way it is supposed to be.
BBQ was a different story. My first bite I was there with the wing. Like, just there man. But it quickly went somewhere I didn't want to go. This was a very sweet BBQ. Very sweet. Then I noticed something that isn't clear in the photos - but there was a purple/pink tinge to the sauce. What I think is going on here is their base sauce has something like a VH cherry sauce being added. In the end I couldn't eat all the wings (in general - it was a lot of food), so what I did was eat most of the hot, then put the BBQ wings into the X-Hot sauce container to go. Much better.
FINAL SCORE: We both agreed that we would go back, but would get the food to go next time. The wings were excellent - big, meaty, crispy and super saucy. The X-Hot Buffalo wings were excellent, but next time I would go for XXX-Hot. BBQ was just too sweet for me. But again, top notch Buffalo wings. 8/10.
The Wing Wagon
71 Public Square, Watertown NY, USA