Wednesday, 17 January 2018

BOSTON PIZZA - Memphis Hot Focus - Ottawa ON

JULY 2017

I'm still posting some of my more important potential reviews from 2017. I've had a long history of reviewing Boston Pizza - went with friends back in 2009, I've gone to a few private special tastings, and I've just eaten wings there. Go on, just do a search in the bar before. This is a two visit review that involved their 'new' Memphis hot sauce they introduced what is now last year. 

Last summer my wife and I decided to stop for lunch at the Boston Pizza on Carling Ave in Ottawa. This is a weird location because it's in an area that is not urban and not suburban. It's basically in a Canadian Tire parking lot, with the 417 highway behind it, car dealership on the other. There's not much around, not much in the way of homes either. It has a busy weekday lunch crowd, but I don't think it's busy the rest of the time. We were there on a weekend and it was not that busy.

They had a bunch of new items on their menu, including some new wings, but I was really in the mood for a sandwich/burger with sides etc. I saw their new Kick`n Memphis Chicken sandwich and I was stoked. Spicy chicken, bacon, fried jalapenos? Yes please.

And the waiter brought this. It didn't look like the photo at all. It was like a hoagie instead of a brioche bun. I bit into it - there was no cheese or bacon. No jalapeno. Then I realized, this was the Buffalo Chicken sandwich. It was good, but it wasn't right. It was also a big price difference. Normally I wouldn't make a fuss, and I almost didn't, but LJ said that's not what I ordered, its not what I want and I should let the waiter know. She was right. I was not happy about wasting the food, but its not what I wanted. The waiter realized right away it was wrong and a little while later I had the right sandwich.

I was so glad I did. This sandwich had it all - great flavours, great textures, great heat. I mean what was not to like? Bacon. Jalapenos. Cheese. Brioche. And the Memphis hot sauce. It was so good. I knew I would want to come back and try it on the chicken wings.

One thing I noticed advertised on a wall was a sign saying Monday all day was their wing special. So about a month later that summer, I plotted to return on a Monday. And I did. And I was happy to have it confirmed it was wing 'night' by the sandwich board out front. It wasn't the best wing special, but it was as good as it gets at Boston Pizza.

When you open the menu and one of the first pages is just a photo of wings, that gives me hope - it suggests that they care about wings, it's not just an afterthought. This is a chain though, so you never know.

You can do wings 4 ways at BP - it's rare to have a place that both fries and bakes. I don't know why one would choose bake, but you can do it. And then they will bake it again. I went with fried, breaded wings personally.

With wings on sale, I was going with the double order and try two very different wings.

The orders come in Starter or Double. Starter orders are 8 wings, Double are 16. Normally 16 wings costs $22.49. That seems ludicrous to me. I love wings but that's dang expensive.

These wings are small, at least in length. They make up for it by being very meaty and with the breading seem extra plump. But they are small and that's just kind of sad. But those wings are fried crispy and the meat is very tender. Very fresh chicken I would guess.

I was there to try the Memphis hot sauce on the wings, but I also decided to contrast that with Salt & Pepper wings, and a side of BBQ. Heat, salty, sweet.


I had never had nor heard of Memphis hot sauce before. I kept mentally confusing this with Nashville Hot Chicken, and I wondered if BP did as well. Memphis is known for it's BBQ, with its sauce being tomato based with a lot of vinegar and molasses. But not hot sauce.

That's ok if it's not authentic, it was delicious. It was slightly sweet, slightly spicy. Actually it had a real zing to it - several times I was coughing on the peppery spice that built up on the lips and the back of the throat. The sauce is also pretty salty and is more oily than buttery. It was unique and it worked just as well on the breaded chicken sandwich as it did on the crispy wings.


I used to be just a sauce guy for my wings, but I've come to really appreciate dry rubbed wings. I often go for Cajun, but on this occasion I was all about the S&P. The salt is sea salt which is large and gives a great salty profile to the flavour. The Pepper is also big and cracked and while it's simple, it is great on crispy wings. In case the wings are dried out or there isn't enough seasoning (these did), I go with a sauce on the side:


BBQ was a good dip on the side for the wings - slightly sweet, a little smoke. That's all.

Actually it made for a good dip because while I got some limp veggies on the side, there was no dip - no blue cheese or ranch or nothing. Maybe the kitchen thought I wanted the BBQ sauce instead. Hmmm . . .


You want a salty, zingy but slightly sweet, unique wing? Go with the breaded Memphis Hot. It was great on these crispy, tender wings. It was good on the sandwich too. It was all a little salty and I'm glad they had free refills on pop. The downside is that the wings while meaty, are small. And pricey. Not all Boston Pizza's have wing nights on Monday, or at all, so before you go, make sure your location does. 9.5/13

Boston Pizza
1640 Carling Ave, Ottawa ON

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