This is a BELATED, BELATED, BELATED recap of 2016. I really wanted at the end of 2016 to get the blog back in order and I started this Year In Review (YIR) but did not finish. But I'm posting it now because I'm about to post YIR for 2017, and better late than never right?
Happy Belated New Year!
In the past, I had made a Blogiversary review at the end of the year for several years - but then business and stagnation meant it went away. Also, it wasn't really an anniversary either as it wasn't when the blog started. I've decided to resurrect the theme of those posts with a Year in Review segment that hopefully can continue for years to come.
2016 was not my most favourite year ever. It started off pretty bad with my mother in law dying, just after my own grandmother died in 2015. Things got better after getting married to my Lady of the Wings, going on a honeymoon, and moving to Ottawa to be with her. This meant I left my day job in Toronto and behind a lot of friends. I traveled to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Cuba. I even catered a few parties! I don't know what the future holds, but it's always an adventure.
I have eaten a lot of wings in 2016. I went to over 40 places this year and intended to do reviews on all of them, but didn't actually write up the reviews. For a while, I got back into the blog groove by bringing back World Wide Web Wacky Wing Wednesday and starting a new segment, Meme Mondays. The wedding, the honeymoon and moving sidetracked these endevours, but I'm hoping to change that now.
I've broken the YIR down to 2 categories:
- WINGS REVIEWS in 2016
In the future I will expand the wing reviews to my best wings, recipes etc but for this year, we're doing things a little different.
I did not do any published reviews this year, and that's pretty terrible. But I planned on doing so, so I took lots of photos. Here are my abridged reviews of the places I went.
ALL STARS - March 21st 2016- SCARBOROUGH ON
It had been years since I had been to an All Stars - and this trip didn't disappoint. I went on a Monday wing night, and the wings were crispy (almost crunchy), tossed in Sour Cream & Onion powder with American Eruption on the side.
BOSTON PIZZA - May 16th 2016- LINDSAY ON
I've been before - and while not often cheap, these breaded Hot wings were meaty, very saucy and crispy (before they got soggy from all the sauce. Suicide on the side had a nice heat.
CASA LUNA - OTTAWA ON
Upon moving back to Ottawa I re-tried out my old local pizza joint - Casa Luna. The prices have increased, but the wings were the same crispy selves. They added suicide to the menu and my goodness, is their suicide hot! Like I actually was overwhelmed with the heat. Well done!
COSTCO - AUG 22nd 2016- OTTAWA ON
I was excited when I heard that Costco food courts were serving chicken wings, but while I was in Toronto I couldn't find them - they weren't sold anywhere. But I when I moved to Ottawa, they had them here! These wings are battered and fried, similar to Chinese restaurants. They are super crispy and served with either HOT or BBQ sauce. The wings are a bit greasy and some are fatty, but otherwise, these are some tasty wings.
CROWN & DRAGON- September 25th 2016- TORONTO ON
When moving from Toronto, I went on a tour of places I was going to miss, and Crown & Dragon has some of the best wings in the city. Above was Buffalo and Dragon's Breath (a spicy BBQ sauce). These wings are dusted, deep fried and moderately sauced. With multiple wing nights, its easy to get a feast!
DANGEROUS DAN's DINER- June 5th 2016- TORONTO ON
Another stop on the Toronto Farewell Tour, Dangerous Dan's Diners is a very greasy spoon that tries to serve the most unhealthy of foods (try the Quad C burger). This was the first time I tried their Dry Buffalo spiced wings which I think is Frank's dry seasoning. Big and crispy. I had hot on the side, which is a more of a weird BBQ more than a hot.
DINGALING'S- September 21st 2016- TORONTO ON
For years when driving through Kingston Ontario I had seen Dingaling's but never got a chance to stop in. Well I made a point of stopping here for lunch when driving between Toronto and Ottawa and I am so glad I stopped in. Large, meaty breaded wings tossed in sauce (highly recommend the Butterface butter hot wings). They put on dill seasoning but I didn't really taste it. These were one of the BEST wings I had all year - crunchy, but super tender meat - and that sauce is decadent.
EAST SIDE MARIOS - October 22nd 2016- BELL's CORNERS ON
Some people blast ESM as a pasta chain, but I actually really like it (Sausage & Pepper Penne with Ariabatta sauce . . so good). But the breaded Garlic Parmesan wings are crunchy, savoury little hits. I think this is the Lady of the Wings' favourite.
FEATHERS PUB - September 26th 2016- TORONTO ON
Just before moving I got a short visit in with my good friend Helen, her toddler Ari and baby Benni. It was a rainy day, but a great visit in this kid friendly pub in the beaches. I got hot wings with a side of suicide and these were classic pub wings: crispy deep fried wings in Hot sauce, with a side of peppery suicide. Very tasty! Thanks for lunch too Helen :)
FIT TO GRILL foodtruck - September 1st 2016- TORONTO ON
On my first time to the Canadian National Exhibit (CNE), yes first time, in the 10 plus years of living in the city I had never been, I had to get some wings. Legendary for its food offerings, I went for Fit To Grill's food truck with their Smoked wings drizzled in Alabama White BBQ sauce. The wings are smoked for hours, then fried. This means the wings are very smokey, but there is a crispy skin. The wings were a little tough, but that Alabama White sauce was so creamy and amazing!
FRANS - May 11th 2016- TORONTO ON
Met up with my friend Kathy for dinner and we went to Fran's Diner. A Toronto tradition, I went for the Xtra Hot wings. These were not bad, but the company was better. Unfortunately I had to leave early due to a work emergency.
GABRIEL's GATE - November 28th 2016- BUFFALO NY USA
On a unscheduled trip across the border to Buffalo New York, I know I needed to get some classic Buffalo wings. Everyone knows about the Anchor Bar and Duff's, and I had been to both, so I sought out where the locals go: Gabriel's Gate.I loved this pub as soon as I arrived; the smell of Buffalo wings wafted throughout the place, the decor was cool and the character of this 1800's building was intact.
I got Buffalo Wings Hot with a side of Suicide. Suicide was passable (not that hot or tasty) but the Hot, oh my goodness. There is just something magical about these wings. Large, crispy and that hot buttery Buffalo wings were on point. Just perfect Buffalo wings. Worth crossing the boarder for!
THE GLENGARRIAN PUB - November 3rd 2016- CORNWALL ON
Weirdly, I've spent a lot of time in Cornwall and tried a number of restaurants, but never this Scottish pub. This seems like a coveted local's joint, where everyone seemed to know each other. I went for the Thursday $0.70 wings all day. These Hot with side of Suicide (3rd Degree) were crispy and large, but unfortunately fried in old fishy oil.
THE GROVER PUB - July 20th 2016- TORONTO ON
We had an official Halifax Reunion (consisting of Adam, Heather and Helen ~ 3 of us that went to a conference in Halifax a few years ago) at the Grover Pub in the Beaches. I had Hot wings with a Side of suicide. These were some tasty pub wings and were even tastier because my friends got the bill for me as a going away gift. They are the best. Side note, this photo is due to some wicked lighting due to Adam - thanks Adam!
HOME OF THE BRAVE - April 7th 2016- TORONTO ON
I had a great night out with Priyanka at Home of the Brave. This was an eclectic little bar down on Queen Street - we had a great long time chatting and catching up, but in the dark, with loud music and chatting, and my chair was a metal seat (not comfortable). I tried their Korean wings that were sticky, sweet but also savoury. Very tasty. They also have a Buffalo Cauliflower on the menu that I didn`t try, but we did share some very tasty brussel sprouts (I know I know!). Priya is having I think their cobb salad, and then we shared a PBC (peanut butter sauce, peanuts on chocolate soft serve) that comes from Sweet Jesus but served in house.
HOMETOWN SPORTS GRILL - December 20th 2016- OTTAWA ON
Out driving one night I noticed that a former Ottawa wing joint was gone, and a new sports pub, Hometown Sports Grill, was in its place. I found out they have an all day wing day on Tuesdays and made my way there one evening. The wings are large, dusted and deep fried. The wings were just overcooked slightly, but I wonder if this was a result of it being a wing night. The sauces - I went with Hot and Forty Creek BBQ and a side of Suicide. Hot was classic but was absorbed into the wings making them not saucy. The BBQ was thick and gooey, sweet and smokey and was very good. Suicide was the star of the night though; it had heat, sweet and savoriness!
HOUSE ON PARLIAMENT - August 16th 2016- TORONTO ON
On a brief stop back in Toronto, I met up with my buddy Carrie and we went to the HOP. The wings were great - served dry but soo very crispy, I got on the side their spicy Scotch Bonnet Suicide and Chipotle BBQ. These were clearly homemade sauces and the BBQ was my fave. This pub has a cool atmosphere, but our service was terrible (from 3 waitresses no less!).
THE IRV PUB - September 23 2016- TORONTO ON
Just before I moved from Toronto, Carrie and I met for lunch at her recommendation, The IRV pub.They had wings, so how could I refuse? Served on a big cutting board with homemade potato chips, veggie sticks and a tasty blue cheese, these wings were jumbo in size. They are marinated with buttermilk, breaded and I got them sauced in Chipotle Buffalo - which was a nice smokey version of a classic wing sauce. The meat was a little tough, but overall these were a tasty wing.
I WENT TO PHILLY - June 9th 2016- TORONTO ON
Desiree and I got together for dinner - but where? Something not healthy and American - I knew just the place; I Went to Philly. I had been to this cheesesteak joint's first opening on Yonge street downtown, but they closed due to condo development, but a second location had opened up in Forrest Hill, so that's where we went. Desiree had the cheesesteak and poutine but I went with their cheesteak fries. I love the thin grilled steak covered in classic Cheez Whiz, and on fries, its heart attack heaven.
I also saw something that wasn't on their regular menu: wings. Whaat? These were breaded, deep fried and covered in hot sauce. They were actually quite good. This place has so much good food, its crazy.
I am a little nervous because as of the writing of this article, some reports have said they are closed. Their website and social media don't say anything, so I hope its not true.
KORNERSTONES BAR & GRILL - April 24th 2016- SCARBOROUGH ON
When I moved last year to the east end of Toronto and got a car, I started exploring father than I had before and that opened up Scarborough to me. I stumbled across this pub on a Sunday wing night (don`t forget Tuesdays too), and on Karaoke night as well. I ordered their Korner Flame and Smokey BBQ and these wings impressed me. Large (if not jumbo), these wings were crispy and saucy (just the way I like them) and I left very satisfied.
LONESTAR - September 29th 2016- TORONTO ON
Heather and I got together to catch up and we went to her favourite, Lonestar. Our waitress kept forgetting everything for Heather with her drinks and dinner order, but I got everything I asked for, which include an order of their Wild Fire Wings - breaded, meaty wings that I had tossed in Texas Hot Butter Sauce, and a side of Chili Jalapeno Fire sauce. The wings absorb the hot sauce but stay crispy/crunchy. I love the sweet and spicy jalapeno sauce too. Thanks for dinner Heather!
MILANOS PIZZERIA - September 16th 2016- GANANOQUE ON
After failing to get into another establishment in Gananoque, I went to what I thought was chain pizza Milano's - but it turned out was a local pizza joint with basically the same name. This mainly take-out pizza joint was slammed with a huge staff taking order after order on this Friday night. I ordered wings and went back to the hotel room, and let me tell you the smell in the car was wonderful. Simple Buffalo wings - crispy fried wings in Buffalo sauce - these were great.
MISTER B's - November 28th 2016- NIAGARA FALLS NY USA
I almost didn't go to Mister B's. Online I had read that these were some of the best wings in the area, but when I arrived in the evening, the place looked like such a sketchy dive. But I persevered and I was rewarded with friendly service and some great wings. The chicken was super crispy (like glass almost) and they were large wings. I went with Buffalo (very good) and 'Slide' sauce which was this sweet smokey bbq sauce (great). The blue cheese dressing also rocked!
Goes to show not to judge a book by its cover - sometimes dives are the best eateries!
NEW HO KING - May 17th 2016- TORONTO ON
1999 was the year I was introduced to what is now my favourite Chinese restaurant (not just in Toronto Chinatown, but anywhere). I have had their crispy fried wings before (they are ok) but my go to dishes are their Shanghai Noodles and General Tso chicken (the best I've had from anywhere) and it wasn't until 2016 that I discovered they have a General Tso Chicken wings on the menu! Crispy large wings in their gooey, savoury/spicy/sweet take on the General's dish was so very delicious. I can learn something new after all!
O'GRADY'S OUTPOST - March 29th 2016- OTTAWA ON
Tucked way down in the Greenboro area of south Ottawa, this little 'outpost' is a great little pub with a cozy atmosphere and great service. They also have 2 half price wing days ( Tues & Thurs) and they are all day so I've taken advantage of some lunch time chicken. The Dry Cajun is a nice spice blend, and Hot is classic hot. Their Afterburner sauce is homemade but inconsistent: the first time I had it it was fantastic made from scotch bonnets and other spices, but the next time I had it, it wasn't as tasty. Either way, some solid pub wings.
PHO HUNG - February 27th 2016- TORONTO ON
I'm letting go a little secret, this is probably my favourite chicken wings in Toronto. And they can be found at this Vietnamese pho place in Chinatown. This was one of the first restaurants I had ever been to when I first moved to Toronto in 1999, but it wasn't until a couple of years ago I had heard they had good wings - and boy do they!
I always order the same thing: Cha Gio (special fried spring roll) and the Canh Ga Chien Bo (Cay) special fried chicken wings 'spicy'). These wings are amazing. The skin is very crispy, but the sauce, oh the sauce is heaven. Or crack. Its almost like a spicy Buffalo sauce, but its a little sweet too- I could drink it. I once spoke to the owner who was very happy that I liked the sauce. He said that he is told he should bottle and sell it but there's too much red tape. He said I should come by when he makes the next batch but he didn't give me a date. I really miss these wings.
PUB 101 - November 11th 2016- OTTAWA ON
How would you feel about a place whose entire menu was $5? And what if I told you a this included a pound of wings? But they still have a Monday AYCE wing night for $12.01? Then you would be coming with me to Pub 101 in the Byward Market. I had been to Pub 101 a long time ago, but things are different now.
The wings aren't huge, but they a deep fried well so that the skin is crispy and the meat is tender. Hot is hot, Dry Cajun is dusted well and has a nice spice to it, and their suicide is 3rd Degree. For $5.01, you can't go wrong with these wings.
THE PUCK - July 18th 2016- TORONTO ON
First part of a small chain called Puck'n Wings, they went independent and called themselves The Puck, sticking with the hockey sports pub theme. They also kept their large wing flavour selection, and I approve. I often went here with co-workers for their Monday wing night. My favourite of these large dusted wings are the above Creamy Dill Pickle, which used to come with chopped up pickle but sadly no more. The last time I was there, I also went with their Salt and Vinegar wings (which works as a 'dry' wing with the fried crispy skin and the tangy vinegar and biting salt) and some Louisiana Hot on the side. This is another wing place I will miss in Toronto.
BRANT ROD & GUN CLUB - Nov 26th 2016- BURFORD ON
This isn't a restaurant - its a social/gun club in rural Brant county that hosts a number of events (Buck & Doe's, anniversaries etc) and once a month they have a wing night. In fact, my uncle Rick is one of the wing cooks in the back. Attendance has skyrocketed in recent times and if you haven't bought your ticket by 5pm, you might be waiting well over an hour as several hundred people stop in. Wing Night is a fundraiser for the club, with meat draws (for $2 you get a stick with a number that corresponds to a big wheel and if your number comes up, you win your choice of meat to go - ground beef, sausages, steaks wings etc.).
Your wing dinner comes with fries and coleslaw. The wings are large (they do their best to make sure the supplier doesn't bring tiny wings) and they deep fry them in large batches. Flavour choises include mild medium and hot (hot being 3rd Degree) as well as honey garlic and dry Cajun. Its a great little community event and some tasty wings.
SNEAKY DEES - July26th 2016- TORONTO ON
My buddy Ryan is to Nachos what I am to wings, so Sneaky Dees is a perfect place for us to have dinner. He gets a massive nacho platter and I get big juicy wings. The sauce here is homemade and is a little spicy and a little sweet. So very good and this place has a great bohemian atmosphere inside.
STONEWATER PUB - September 16th 2016- GANANOQUE ON
Near the waterfront in Gananoque sits this quaint little pub. It's a bed and breakfast, has an upstairs dining room, but in the basement is a cool little gastro pub that shows off its 19th century heritage. They also have wings on the menu - 3 whole wings that are brined, dusted then fried with sauce on the side. I had WTF (what the f*@&!) dry rub with hot sauce on the side. The sauce and rubs were good, but the skin on this wing was so crispy, it had been perfectly fried.
STUFFED BURGERS & PIZZA - December 16th 2016- OTTAWA ON
Blink and you might just drive past Stuffed Burgers & Pizza. This place serves burgers that have just about anything put in the middle of the patty - and I had one years ago and it was great. But on this occasion I was looking to try their wings. Large, deep fried crispy and served saucy to go, with 3rd Degree as their hot, these were a good take-out wing. And the owner is super friendly to boot!
SWISS CHALET - October 12th 2016- OTTAWA ON
I'm not going to get into them very much, but Swiss Chalet makes some pretty decent wings. They aren't huge, but they are very meaty, dusted and fried and Hot has a nice kick.
THAI EXPRESS - November 8th 2016- OTTAWA ON
I have seen this chain in so many food courts, but I had never been. The first time I did, they had just started serving wings - good timing! These were tiny wings (so small in fact that the server gave me extra). But these wings were crispy, salty and served with a Thai style sweet and spicy sauce. I wouldn't go out of my way to get these, but if I'm at Thai Express, I would get them again.
WILD WINGS - August 6th 2016- OTTAWA ON
LJ and I wanted lunch and she was up for wings, and well, there was Wild Wings in Ottawa East. Say what you will about this wing chain, I appreciate their breaded, crunchy wings that have some great sauces and rubs. She ordered the Spicy Gar Par while I had the Hot Dill Pickle - both were creamy, decadent and full of the promised flavours. On another trip, I got their Dry Ketchup - which is good but you have to ask for double the seasoning and these puppies taste like Ketchup Chips especially with the crispy fried chicken.
WINGPORIUM - March 25th 2016- ETOBICOKE ON
This place knows its wings - and their Dry Dill Pickle is ghost white in dilly good seasoning. Hot Blonde is also tasty and while I didn't get to Etobicoke often, this will be a missed place now that I am out east.
By far the biggest event of the year, if not my life, was planning, executing and celebrating my wedding day. When you are Lord of the Wings, you are going to incorporate wings somehow.
Chicken wings and hot sauce were going to play a part in 2 parts - and it definitely meant going to a restaurant supply store to buy some BIG BOTTLES of sauce!
The first way was part of our take-away for guests, our Wedding Pyre sauce - hot sauce that we re-bottled and re-branded. This was a hit and people were asking for more after our wedding.
The other way for hot sauce was having dual chicken wing fountains for our post-dinner eats. One fountain was Buffalo sauce, the other BBQ. Even before we got engaged we knew we would have this at our wedding. Above you can see the fountain at work, with me and my Lady of the Wings!
Oh almost forgot! At our rehearsal dinner right before the wedding we got catering - but we went with BBQ. Pig Out BBQ did the catering and they not only gave us a great deal but some amazing grub! Of course, there were wings on that menu and they were very good.
The wedding and chicken wings didn't end there, oh no! For our honeymoon, my new bride and I went to beautiful Costa Rica. We stayed at an amazing resort and had a great suite that was decorated for our post-wedding arrival. We were exhausted from our flight and hour long drive to the resort (and the whole wedding itself) so when we got to the room, we decided to do room service. Low and behold, what was on the menu? Buffalo wings!
I got an order and they looked great. We ate at our table overlooking our private walk-out pool. The wings were fried and tossed in Buffalo sauce. The chicken was quite tough - and was cut in a way with extra meat in a way I have never seen before. The sauce was good, but the meat was just so tough. The ranch on the side wasn't great either.
We also had a honeymoon romantic dinner on the beach for 2 organized by the resort. Guess what was on that menu? Buffalo wings again. But these looked nothing like the first order. These seemed to be grilled not fried, and they tasted good, but again the chicken was too tough. But the view from the beach!
LORD of the WING CATERING
Over the years I've had many compliments on my cooking, with people telling me that I should have a food truck or a restaurant. One person really put their faith in my cooking and asked me to cater a birthday party for 30 people. Wow.
The event was at a super modern cottage in the Quebec Gatineau's overlooking a beautiful lake. I had to go up the day before to start prepping for lunch the next day. My menu had everything from Ribs, steak bites, chicken soulvalki, dips, chili and of course . . . wings. Above you can see me with a tray of the smoked BBQ wings - that tray went empty pretty quick.
That event led to more private events. After hearing about the cottage party, I was hired to do an annual friends & family party with an emphasis on appetizer like foods. This one I made up more dips, pulled pork sliders, and of course, more wings.
First, this part actually had a Star Trek theme, and as a huge Trekker, I was excited to give the food a Star Trek naming spin. For the wings, I called them Andorian Fire Bat Wings 2 Ways - both Tandoori flavoured, but one was crispy breaded and the other just rubbed and baked. I also made a super hot Tandoori hot sauce to go with it.
The hosts of the party are also HUGE nacho fans, and when they found out I could do a Nacho Cheese Fountain, they were on board pretty quick. It's a nacho cheese fountain, who wouldn't be?!?!?
I've enjoyed the catering/personal chef route, but I haven't made the permanent career switch yet. But if you are interested in my cooking for your event, give me a shout (firstname.lastname@example.org).
So that's my 2016 recap. Crazy year, crazy wings. Hope it was good for you.
To end off, here is my 2016best9 from Instagram: