Mel's Restaurant, Somerset PA

Wing Wars: Mel’s Restaurant, Somerset PA

Mel’s Restaurant and Bar was the site of the second battle of the Wing Wars. Make no mistake, Mel’s is a old timey BAR in the truest sense of the word. It’s dark, smoky, crowded (with wing eaters) and loud, but I’m here to eat wings, and frankly, I’m not interested in eating them from plates on a white table cloth. Wings are BAR food! Mel’s does not have wings on their regular menu, serving them on Mondays only from 5:00 PM until midnight, or until they run out. The service was quick, but not cloying, and I soon had a draft Yuengling in front of me for only $1.50. The hors d’oeuvre was warm pistachios from dispensers mounted right on the bar. (Did I mention this was an old timey bar?) The menu presented listed 17 varieties with good descriptions so I didn’t have to guess what “Creeps Peeps” were. Of note are the XXX wings. If you eat six of these, the next six are on the house and you get your picture on the wall. Since there are only about a dozen pictures posted, I assume they are quite hot. The menu also noted the wings are whole (not split), a fact not often listed on menus. The prices are very reasonable coming in at $3.95 per half dozen and $7.95 per dozen. There is no extra charge for veggies, but you do have to ask for them. The wings arrived surprisingly fast considering how many wing eaters were at the bar, and they were huge. I had ordered the “Texas” wings which were the standard “Buffalo” variety with the addition of chili powder. My first bite revealed a wing cooked as close to perfection as possible. The skin was crisp, the inside meat was still moist, and they were easy to pull apart. When wings are cooked this well it almost doesn’t matter what sauce you put on them. The “Texas” added just enough of a twist to the traditional “Buffalo” to make it interesting. I usually try more than one sauce, but the six I had were big enough that I didn’t feel I could get down another six. A further exploration of the menu will have to wait for a follow up trip, but I guarantee I’ll be back.

THE RATING

Cooking:I’m reluctant to give a perfect 10 to anything, but these were as close as you could get. 9.5

Varieties:17 varieties is a bit above average and the descriptions are good for extra points. 7

Value:Considering the size of these wings, $3.95 per half dozen with veggies included is a bargain. 9

Enjoyment:Not the kind of place that will make Better Homes and Gardens, but the awesome wings, good service, and cheap beer is good enough for me. 8.5

OVERALL: 8.5

 
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Wing Wars:Rock City Cafe, Rockwood PA

Rock City Cafe-Rockwood PAThe opening battle of the Wing Wars began in the old railroad town of Rockwood, PA at the Rock City Cafe. This is a bar I hadn’t been to since it was Henry’s Cafe , pre 2006 and since many people had recommended it for the wings I decided to give it a shot. It was Wednesday, which is wing night at Rock City, and the number of people already chowing down at 5:30 promised a good result. The service was quick and friendly and I soon had a bottle of Labatt Blue sitting in front of me for the reasonable price of $2. There were 14 varieties of wings on the menu, about average for most bars. The server informed me the wings were split and that 6 was the minimum order. I had her pick two of the most popular varieties and I soon had in front of me one half-dozen each of Double Rub ‘N Butter and Sweet ‘n Hot. The wings were quite small and the first bite confirmed my suspicion that they had been “double-dipped”. In fact, they were probably the driest wings I have ever been served. The flavor of the Sweet ‘n Hot wings were passable, but lacked any depth of flavor. The Double Rub ‘N Butter were coated with the “rub” so thickly I had to brush it off to make them palatable. There was a quarter-inch of spices left in the tray when I was finished.

THE RATING

Cooking: The wings were clearly “double-dipped”, dry and chewy. 2

Varieties: 14 varieties is about average. Although there was more than the standard Buffalo, there was nothing that really caught my eye. 5

Value: The regular menu price is 60 cents and they are discounted to 50 cents on wing nights. You have to pay $1 extra for celery and dressing. 4

Enjoyment: Pleasant atmosphere and servers, but lost points for the game shows on the TV. 5

OVERALL: 4
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