For the first time in several years my wife and I were able to attend my family holiday gathering. We live over 6 hour drive away from where most of my extended family live and getting a weekend to getaway is pretty tough. We stayed with my folks and the night before the big event (my next post will be my contribution to the family potluck), we went out for dinner at Zander's in Brantford.
When I was a kid, we used to go to a restaurant in a strip mall called The Warehouse and we would get pretty good wings. I don't understand the marketing thought on naming and decorating a place based on a storage facility, but they served decent food. Apparently the Warehouse was still open until a few years ago (approx 2013-14) when they closed, and a new place opened up: Zander's Fire Grill & Brew Lounge.
Zander's theme is pretty clear: rockstar. Giant paintings of famous musicians, big flames, motorcycles etc. It's a family friendly roadhouse - weekend warriors eating in a comfortable environment. It's a remarkable change to what it used to be. And it works; I've been about 3 times before and whether it was lunch or dinner, the place was packed and you have to wait in line to get in. This visit was no different.
You can understand the lineups when you see the food. Big portions and reasonable prices. The first time I came here I had the Trooper Burger - with cheese, bacon, crispy fried onions and BBQ sauce - and it was fantastic.
At the top, my wife got the gyro - sliced meat & tatziki on a pita with a mound of fries. On the bottom left, my mom always gets the Buffalo Chicken Wrap with a salad. On the right, my dad usual is the chicken fingers tossed on Buffalo sauce, salad, and baked potato as his side. The photo may not show it, but those are huge plates. I will say the fries aren't great - they aren't bad but they kind of taste frozen - but better than most places that server frozen fries. Overall, everyone enjoyed the food.
Zander's has a menu that has so many different, tasty sounding dishes I have trouble picking. But when they have almost an entire page dedicated to wings, it is hard to not pick wings. Generally, if a restaurant highlights their wings instead of burying them in appetizers, they care about their wings. Generally. Zander's care.
On this trip, I was hungry, so I went with a double order. I was ready for glutton.
Zander's wings come in 1, 2 or 3 pound orders. My 2 pounds came with 13 wings.
They also came with veggies and dip. This seems like something that doesn't need to be reported on, but more and more places just leave these off the plate these days. The dips is Zander's Sauce - which is a spiced up, thick ranch dip. It's very good.
The wings themselves are large. In length. They aren't jumbo or super meaty, but they are a hefty wing. Actually you have 2 choices in size - Rockstar (which is dusted in spices & herbs) or Regular which is probably not dusted. I went with the dusted Rockstar. The dusting gives these deep fried wings a nice crispy texture. It helps hold up to the sauce, and these wings are saucy. They were glistening with the sauce. Maybe that was just the drool from my mouth.
I got two different flavours of wing and a third on the side. Sampling is always fun :)
While they have a regular mild/medium/hot sauces, if I see 'Buffalo Butter' that's what I go for. This is a pretty standard Buffalo sauce - hot cayenne with lots of butter and a bit of vinegar. I didn't find them hot, but they were tasty.
BBQ GARLIC PARM (Medium)
When I saw this on the menu, I had a completely different idea of what these wings would be. I was confused actually, because a) BBQ would be maybe smokey, sweet b) Garlic Parm is usually creamy and, well garlicky c) getting a choice of mild/medium/hot suggests heat. I took the plunge and got them, while ordering Medium in case others at the table wanted to try.
Well gosh these wings were ... well just so good. Super buttery, rich, and garlicky. I don't think there is any BBQ sauce involved here, but they've taken like the Hot Buffalo and added lots of garlic and Parmesan. These were easily my favourite.
I got a sampling of the ghost chili sauce on the side. This sauce had a great bite, but I expected a ghost pepper level heat that aimed to destroy the mouth. It didn't; it was hot though but also a little sweet. This was a great sauce and I might go for a full order next time.
If you want a big, hearty, tasty meal, Zander's is the place to go. The wings are big, crispy and the sauces which are clearly not just bottled sauces, are great. Hot Buffalo is good, as is the Ghost Chili. But the BBQ Garlic Parm was a decadent sauce that was just top notch. Don't forget their Wednesday wing night either!
The other food is good too, service is friendy and they have free refills on pop. I don't know if there is a real Zander, but I know why people line up all the time to get in. 10/13
Zander's Fire Grill & Brew Lounge
190 King George Road, Brantford ON