Back in 2008 I checked out Summerhays Grill in Centrepointe part of Ottawa. I liked the wing special but wasn't crazy about the sauces. I went back with a friend a few years after that, but didn't do a return review. Well on a beautiful April night, I figured I'd go check out if they still had their wing deal and how the wings were doing 10 years later.
I was on my own for dinner and I rolled up to Summerhays, which has undergone a reno since I reviewed them 10 years ago. The parking lot was relatively busy, but I noticed the patio was empty.
It was one of the most beautiful days in April after having an ice storm not too long before, so I decided I was going out there for sure. I couldn't believe that no one was sitting out there. I saw a slow, steady arrival of folks, but it seemed like many were getting take-out.
My server was Caity, who was a great server. She made me feel welcome, was friendly, checked on me frequently, and was doing some training of a new server. She answered a lot of my wing questions, like what the wing special was now or what Dave's sauce or Crazy Paula's sauce (its a suicide/honey garlic and suicide/bbq I think, I wasn't ordering so I missed the exact detail, sorry). There are a lot of sauces to choose from, some are homemade, some coming from a bottle.
I didn't have to wait long and pretty soon I had a big feast of wings while sitting outside.
The wings are described as being seasoned, then baked, then fried. That sounds like quite the process, but I'm not sure that is what they actually do. They just seem fried to me (well seasoned, then fried). Wings come in by the pound, which works out to be about 8-9 wings in an order.
I knew Summerhays' wing special as being something like everyday after 2 or 3pm being like $0.35 a piece. Caity told me that the deal now was everyday (Mon-Sun) half price after 12 noon. That seems crazy because that means they are $6.95 for a pound almost all day except for like 1 hour a day when they are $14 or for take-out.
The chicken was a good medium medium-plus sized wing. They were pretty meaty too, especially the drummettes. The meat was average tenderness.
The skin on the wings was very nice and crispy. Especially the dry rubbed wings, you got a real sense of the crispy texture. The sauced wings lost a bit of crispness but the wings didn't get soggy.
I went with 2 orders and 4 flavours to maximize my tasting and reviewing. 1lb of Hot, 1lb or dry Cajun, with Suicide & Smoked Sweet Mustard on the side for dipping. They charge $1 a piece for the extra sauce, but they came in giant containers, so I didn't mind.
It was ok. As I ate it, I thought it was kind of cayenne-y, but also tomato-y which I wasn't crazy about. Near the end of my wings, I found a little sauce deposit at the bottom. I tried just the sauce and it was very buttery, salty, Buffalo-y taste. So where was the tomato flavour coming from? I went back and tried the sauced wing and had that tomato flavour again. I don't know what was going on.
This was a great Cajun dry rubbed wing. Lots of flavour, your garlic, the salt, the herbs. This was a really seasoned wing.
There was a very generous amount of the rub. Look at that big pile of spices and seeds!
The first couple of wings I dipped in here I really liked. It had a nice peppery kick, it was thick, it was good. But the more I ate it, the more I grew to dislike it. That's because that tomato flavour just seemed to get stronger and stronger. Like cloyingly tomato. I had to put it aside. It wasn't killer heat, it was above a hot, but it wasn't going to make you cry or cough.
SMOKED SWEET MUSTARD
This was my favourite - it's basically a honey mustard with a hint of smoky flavour. According to Caity this is a popular sauce, especially in combination with the suicide. The suicide is homemade, but this is a commercial sauce. I'm not sure I'd want my entire order of wings to be this sauce, but paired with the Cajun, c'est magnifique.
I'm very torn on these wings. They are a good size, meaty and crispy wing. The sauces are unique, the dry Cajun generously rubbed, but the Hot and the Suicide (or maybe the wing itself) had some tomato flavour that was just not jiving with me. The service was great, the wing deal not bad. I'll be back, but no rush. 10.5/15
1971 Baseline, Ottawa ON