Wednesday, 13 February 2019

BERNIE's BIG SLICE - Brockville ON


The day after New Years Day, my wife and I were involved in a 3 car pileup on the 401. Everyone was ok thankfully, but we lost our vehicle for about 2 weeks while it was repaired by our insurance in Brockville Ontario near where the accident took place. When the car was finally ready, I had to go to Brockville to pick it up. Side note: big shout out to Mitch and Discount Car Rental in Ottawa - I dropped off our replacement vehicle and Mitch drove me all the way from Ottawa to Brockville (just over an hour drive) - that is customer service!!! After I got the car, I figured I'd get some wings for lunch.


I searched online before going to see about wings in Brockville. A number of places came up, but I didn't want to spend a lot of time there and get back home, that's when Bernie's Big Slice came out ahead on my list of choices.


Bernie's is nothing special to look at - its an old house converted into a pizza joint. There is some seating inside, as well as what looks like some renos that are on hold (giving the impression that it's a little stage, but I don't think it is). There are lots of promotions posted in the windows and on the walls. Buffalo Poutine and the Bernie's Bigger Better Burgers caught my eye, and if I wasn't there for wings, I would have gone the burger route.

I was the only one there, and when I came in I was greeted by a staff who was in the back prepping food I think. I said to her it seemed quiet and she mentioned due to the snowstorm that had occurred over the weekend (this was a Monday) that school was closed and a big chunk of their lunch/pre-diner business was kids from the nearby school. It was a good thing it was closed because I found getting around really difficult with the snow covered streets plus it was like -30.


I grabbed one of their paper take-out menus and looked up the wings. I was a bit surprised by the price - $15 for 12 wings. I assumed that meant they would be big wings as take-out wings from pizza joints are generally tiny and not that expensive.

I was excited to see the new homemade Buffalo sauce on the menu. I played dumb and asked what was the difference between the Buffalo sauce and suicide ... she had a hard time explaining. She said "I don't know what to tell you, the Buffalo sauce is ... Buffalo sauce. Suicide has like jalapenos and is not very saucy." OK then. Well I was only getting 12 wings so I couldn't get two orders. So I went with the homemade Buffalo since I was looking for a saucy wing experience, but I did get the suicide on the side.



I waited about 10 or 15 minutes and then I had my take-away bag. I took it and it smelled really good, like classic American Buffalo wings. But I was a little surprised how light the bag felt.


I opened up the plastic bag and found a Styrofoam container. Inside that container was a layer of tinfoil, and the wings.



There were no sides with the wings. I assumed at the price point there would be something. I also grabbed some napkins before heading out, but there was no wetnaps available.


When I opened up the container I was surprised and upset. The wings were small. They weren't micro sized, but they were small. Small in length, height, meatiness. I was not impressed, again at the wings costing $15 for 12. What the heck?! Why are they so expensive? This is what they are charging in restaurants, but how does Bernie's justify the price?

The wings themselves are deep fried and the skin is relatively crispy, but due to steaming in the tinfoil container from when I left, they lost some of that crispiness. The wings were not tough or tender, and I'm pretty sure they came from frozen.


I went with the two sauces. The main Buffalo wings were shockingly under-sauced. The side of suicide I went with though was a container filled with spicy goodness it seemed.


BUFFALO

The smell on these things were great. They smelled like Buffalo wings. But I couldn't find the sauce. I was expecting some saucy wings covered in butter/hot sauce, but there was next to nothing.



The flavour was ... well weak. I was sad and mad. I was expecting something special from "homemade" sauce, but the application was just so thin that I couldn't get a sauce experience. Small wings, short on sauce. Things were not looking so good.


SUICIDE

I went with the suicide sauce because I had seen on their Facebook page that it was homemade, and looked really chunky and good. And, it did in real life too. You could see the jalapenos, chili peppers and lots of spices mixed in.



I have to say, it was a really great sauce. Actually, it was more 'saucy' than the Buffalo. It packed a lot of flavour and texture for sure. It was really fresh tasting. And it had a nice bite to it hovering between hot and suicide in the burn.



FINAL SCORE

Overall I was disappointed with Bernie's. Where are the wings?! Where is the sauce?! Tiny wings, barely sauced and $15 is a little outrageous. The homemade Buffalo was, well, missing. Suicide though, suicide was where it's at. If you are getting the wings, either ask for them to be saucy, or get the suicide. Next time I'm in Brockville, I doubt I will get wings again here. 6/14



Bernie's Big Slice
60 Pearle Street E, Brockville ON
berniesbigslice.com




Monday, 11 February 2019

Thursday, 7 February 2019

LOST REVIEW - MARY BROWN's - Toronto ON


It's #throwbackthursday & another LOST REVIEW!!!

The year was 2014, and the blog was at a low point of posts. That didn't mean I stopped eating wings nor did it mean I had intended to give up on doing reviews. I was just too busy and too tired to write, edit and post. Sad, but life is what it is.



It was August 13th 2014 in Toronto in the North York area and my friend and co-worker at the time Helen and I were out on a supply run for staff training. We had a car and were going to Costco, Dollarama and other places to pick up what we needed for 2 weeks for around 30 people. While we were out, we took advantage of the fact that we could grab some lunch. Helen knew the area and suggested that we go to Mary Brown's Famous Chicken & Taters. As a relocated Nova Scotianer, Helen has like many of her fellow East Coasteners a deep love of this fried chicken chain. I love fried chicken, so we checked it out.

I've lost my notes on this review, but the photos tell me it was pretty good. I do know I got the lunch special of 2 pieces of chicken, potato wedges, and a can of pop for $5.99, but because I'm a wing guy I also got their Wings, 7 wings for $6.99. I should note I remember not eating the whole meal and taking some of it home. I notice in the window there's an add for 5 Free Wings, but I have no memory of what that was for or why I didn't get it. I think everything was good. It all looks good. Those wings look really well sauced. Sadly, the next time I would go to Mary Brown's was just this month in 2019. It should be interesting to see a comparison of the wings and wedges.















FINAL SCORE:


Mary Brown's Famous Chicken & Taters
3199 Dufferin Street, Toronto ON (North York) (and other locations)

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

THE THIRD - Ottawa ON


One of the things I love about social media is the ability to connect and learn. Not long ago, Instagram connected me with wings, and that's awesome.


@the.scribblr tagged me on The Third's post about their wings telling me I needed to try these. I mean, look at that photo! Those are some very saucy wings that look spicy! I'm not sure if @the.scribblr had tried them before and thought they were good, or just saw the photo and thought I should try them, but thanks for letting me know!

I had heard about The Third before, but had never been. All I knew was that it was a place serving scratch made, simple pub food for reasonable prices, with a minimal approach for portions. Well, now they were on my wing-radar to try.


So I went out to try them like that week. The Third is in the Hintonburg area of Ottawa, which I recently moved away from. I had a rough idea where they were, but driving I could not find the location. That's because there is no sign. There's a big black board where a sign would go, but nothing. I did see a sandwich board out front, and I parked out front (free parking, sweet).



The place isn't big, but arriving at the last few minutes of the lunch hour, the place was packed. The waitress said for me to grab whatever seat I wanted; there was a little table in the front window so I grabbed that. That waitress was Ashley, and she was great. Like really great. Super friendly, informative and really really made me feel welcome and at home. Very genuine. She brought me a big bottle of water to start, and to speak about the service, another waitress during my meal would just randomly check on me and pour me more water (even though it was self service), all while Ashley was checking on me too (without being intrusive or too frequent). It was just awesome service.

I looked around the place and notice that the vibe was very nostalgia based. Tin walls, old chairs, and lots of black and white photos of the neighbourhood. I actually sat under one photo that Ashley explained was The Third, waaaaay back when it was (the last) Chinese hand laundry.

Oh, if you are wondering about the name, The Third, because I was and completely forgot, it has to do with the mission of this joint to be a community hub:

"The Third Place: The neutral public places where people can gather and interact. Unlike the first place (home) and the second place (work), the third place allows people to put aside their concerns and simply enjoy the pleasure of good company."


I looked around at other people's orders and their food looked good. The menu seems like it should be more hipsterish than it is, but it's all pretty inexpensive and sounds good. I mean the nachos looked good, I saw tasty looking burgers, even fish and chips that I would down. But I was there for the wings. You'll find them under the snacks.


Ashley helped me with my sauce choices (which I will get into later) but it didn't take long for me to have my wings.



The wings came on a simple white plate, but I did get a bowl for bones and extra good quality thick paper napkins for clean-up. They come in either 5 piece orders or 10 piece orders. It doesn't come with any sides like dips, veggies or fries although the spicy wings did come with jalapeno slices if you really want to stretch the definition of 'side'.



When my wings first came out, I was disappointed.  I mean they were plated nice and they looked good, but, well they were really small and pretty dry on sauce. On the size scale they were small length, width, height. They weren't meaty wings either. I've had smaller wings, but these were just a small wing.


Now I will say that these wings were fried very nicely. The skin was nice and crispy. The meat was tender. The bones pulled apart nicely too. It was small, but it was cooked just right.

As previously mentioned, they was very little sauce on them. When I think back to that Instagram photo, the guys arm was covered in sauce and I know it's a commercial and it's purposely exaggerated, but it was a let down. Go scroll back up and look again. Both flavours I went with were equally not sauced that much. I mean my fingers did get wet and my napkin was needed, but there was just soo little sauce that made me sad.


The Third has 3 sauces to choose from: BBQ, Honey Butter, and Spicy. I asked Ashley about the sauces. She let me know that they were all scratch made in house. That sounded good. I asked about the Honey Butter and she told me that it was like Honey Garlic without the garlic. That didn't really get me going but I wouldn't say no to them. Ashley thought about it and said I could go with 5 BBQ, 5 of the Honey Butter, then get the Spicy on the side. I like that she was thinking about it and trying to maximize my experience. I decided to skip the Honey Butter and went with 5 Spicy and 5 BBQ. When they came, the only way I could tell them apart was that the spicy had jalapeno slices on them.


SPICY

What sauce I could see was orange in colour and where it had pooled, it was mushy looking. The flavour was light, bright, with a heat that builds. At first I was like there's not much heat, but as you eat them the heat builds. It's peppery and really attached the top of my mouth and throat. It was hot enough for a sting, but a heat wimp could eat these and feel like they were eating something really hot. But that's why it's Spicy and not Death wings.

I asked what was in the sauce Ashley told me it was finger chili's and habaneros (hence the orange and mush) but she did say the heat does change depend on the batch of chilis. She also mentioned it depends on people's tastes, as she mentioned how she's someone who can down a bottle of Frank's, while others really suffer.



BBQ

This sauce was really really hard to describe. The sauce was tasty, but because it was so thin it was hard to really identify. It was sweet, and I'm pretty sure there is honey in there. That's what I can tell you. It's not bold, or dark flavoured like a Texas BBQ sauce or vinegary like a North Carolina sauce. It's its own thing and it's good (it was nice to alternate between spicy and BBQ), there's just not much of it.


I did like these wings, but these are not feasting wings. These are "Afternoon Tea Wings", that you have at 2pm with a cup of tea and you nibble little bites with little hints of flavour. The wings are dainty and feel artisan in their approach.



FINAL SCORE

The Third did not score well on this venture; the wings were small, the sauces were not generous. However, what sauce was on the wings was good, with Spicy giving some heat and BBQ bringing the sweet. The wings were nicely fried and tender. These 'Afternoon Tea Wings' are dainty but tasty, and I appreciate the homemade sauces, I just wish there was more. The service was excellent and I would definitely go back to sample more of the menu. 6/15



The Third
1017 Wellington Street, Ottawa ON
facebook.com/thethirdott