Tag Archives: wings

Baileys 219

Wing Wars: Baileys Circle 219

Despite hearing numerous bad reports about Bailey’s Circle 219, I decided to check out their wing night, which had been advertised for Tuesdays. I arrived about 4:45 to find the restaurant closed. The only signs visible were a For Sale sign out front and the original Circle 219 sign was laying in the weeds behind the restaurant. They didn’t even have hours listed on the door, so naturally I assumed Bailey’s had gone out of business and I headed off to another bar. A short time later, I was driving by Bailey’s again and noticed a car in the lot and a lighted beer sign in the window, so I stopped. They were open, but barely, with only one other patron at the bar. The tap head in front of me had no handles on it and the bartender confirmed that they indeed had no draft beer. I opted for a Labatt Blue in a bottle and requested menu. The ratty single sheet of paper arrived and I was informed they were offering only a limited menu that evening and that although it was wing night, they had no wings. Since it appeared the highlight of my evening would be the rubber ducks in the vintage Crane urinal, I declined to order and simply left. As a rule, I rarely return to a restaurant after a bad experience, but in this case I had a feeling the trip may have been an anomaly. I arrived for the second attempt at about 6:30 PM the following Tuesday, and again there was only one other customer in the bar. This time the bartender was the owner, so I anticipated a better experience. There was still no draft beer, so once again I settled for a bottle of Labatt Blue. I also noticed they were once again using bagged ice, so we have a bar here with no draft beer and no ice machine. Instead of the pleasant smell of food cooking, I was assaulted by the overpowering scent of Lysol. The owner spent the entire time smoking cigarettes and talking to the lone customer in the bar, and having her back turned to me, never noticed when I drained my first beer.Baileys 219 sign I’m not a smoking Nazi, but it’s considered bad food handling practice for a server to smoke or eat while working. I requested a menu and once again received a single ratty computer generated sheet, although this time it was larger. The wings were available this time and I was informed that on wing nights there was no minimum order required. I wasn’t very hungry, so I ordered three Butter & Old Bay and three Sweet & Hot, passing on the included veggies. It turns out the owner was also the cook, so she disappeared into the kitchen to prepare the wings. I was thankful I had received another beer before she left so that I wasn’t sitting there with nothing while she was gone. The wings arrived in a reasonable amount of time and I started on the Old Bay first. The single section wings were badly overcooked and reeked of stale oil, but the seasoning was surprisingly good. Most of the dry rub wings I’ve had in other restaurants were nearly inedible due to an over abundance of seasoning, but these were properly seasoned. The Sweet & Hot sauce was even better, with a depth of flavor rare in wing sauces. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the ingredient which gave it the depth but it brought to mind Bourbon. I would love to eat this sauce on a properly cooked wing as it was easily one of the best I’ve eaten. This bar appears to be on its last legs, so I suggest calling ahead if you’re planning on visiting to make sure they’re still in business. However, you’ll have a better experience at just about any other bar in the area.

THE RATING

Cooking:The wings were over cooked and tasted of stale oil. 3

Varieties:14 varieties is above average and the 2 I ate were quite good. 7

Value:$.50 each with veggies and dressing is a decent price but not great, especially considering the quality of the wings. 5

Enjoyment:Lysol smell, no draft beer, sitcoms on TV and poorly cooked wings doesn’t make for a great evening. 3

OVERALL: 4.5

 

NOTE: Bailey’s Circle is now permanently closed for business.
Bailey's Circle on Urbanspoon

Bulls Tavern, Ligonier PA

Wing Wars: Bull’s Tavern, Ligonier PA

One of the joys of bar hopping is discovering how some bars have developed a personality over time and others seem souless regardless of how long they have been in business. The most recent site of the Wing Wars was happily an example of the former.

Bull's Tavern, Ligonier PAThursday evening found me at Bull’s Tavern, located on the historic Lincoln Highway in Ligonier. Bull’s is a small bar, but they manage to pack a lot into the space, including a pool table, dart machine, a couple of other game machines and three flat screen TVs. I’d be willing to bet this tiny bar has more square inches of TV screen per customer in the area, making it a great place to watch sports. There clearly is not a bad seat in the house. In addition to the usual beer signs, the walls are covered with loads of photos and memorabilia giving the interior a clubby atmosphere with its own unique history. I even spied and old metal Kennywood sign, the likes of which I haven’t seen for a while. I took a seat at the bar and was immediately greeted by the bartender and the customers, making me feel almost like a regular. Nothing fancy on the beer front so I settled on a draft Yeungling served in a pint canning jar. I’m not a big fan of canning jars as beer glasses, however they fit in at Bull’s better than in upscale bars who try the same idea. A large white board announced the wing special so I didn’t request a menu. The bartender explained the wings were 35 cents each with a minimum order of ten but I could split the order to get two different sauces. He aptly described the five sauces available and I ordered five Buffalo and five Sweet and Hot. The wings arrived quickly and I started on the Buffalo first. They were perfectly cooked, being crisp on the outside and moist on the inside and the sauce was rich and buttery, as you would expect from a traditional Buffalo sauce recipe. There was no breaking of the sauce that I have found in some other bars. The Sweet and Hot were a bit more mild than I would prefer, but still had a good flavor and a nice balance of sweet to sour. I had declined the veggies and dressing and not having read a menu I’m not sure if they charge extra for them or if they were included. Overall, a very solid experience and I’d certainly go back again. Bull’s looks like a great place to catch a Steeler’s game.

THE RATING

Cooking: Crisp outside and moist inside. 8

Varieties: Only five choices, but the two I ate were great. 5

Value: $3.50 for ten cut wings is pretty good considering the quality. 6

Enjoyment:Authentic sports bar atmosphere with personable staff and customers. 8

OVERALL: 6.8

 
Bull's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Wing Wars:Falls City Pub, Ohiopyle PA


Monday last found me in the Youghiogheny River town of Ohiopyle. Long known as a summer hotspot for outdoor sports including white water rafting, bicycling, and hiking, it had also been known as a desert for food and libations. Happily this situation changed in 2002 with the opening of Falls City Restaurant and Pub. Falls City signTucked behind Wilderness Voyageurs Outfitters Store on Garrett Street, Falls City is located in a building which could have been constructed as a commercial garage. It’s a bit cavernous and loud and is appointed in a style that could best be described as “Early River Rat”. Grabbing a seat at the bar, I noticed that premium and craft beers were well represented. I ordered the first ale I spied on the draft rail (the name of which escapes me) and it turned out to be a rather unremarkable brew. But even more disappointing was that it was served in a plastic cup. Glancing through the regular menu I found it more ambitious than I would have expected, but I was here for the wings and concentrated on that menu. It was a single sheet with 17 varieties listed, but with no descriptions. Luckily most were self explanatory and at least they went to the trouble to encase it in plastic. The wings were sold only by the dozen and no splitting of varieties was allowed. I followed the recommendation of the gregarious and efficient bartender and ordered the Hot BBQ Garlic. Just before the wings arrived my ale was drained and the bartender recommend a different one, stating it was great with wings. Wow! A bartender that can recommend beer with wings? lagunitas_logoThe brew turned out to be Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale from the Lagunitas Brewing Company, a double India Pale Ale and this time it was served in a glass. The ale had a huge citrusy nose with some under notes of pine and finished long and clean with only a touch of the bitterness that some IPA’s exhibit. The wings arrived and indeed the ale was a great match. They were single section wings but were large and meaty, leading me to believe they were not the frozen product many restaurants resort to. The cooking was pretty good, with the insides being juicy, but the skin could have been a bit crisper. Celery, carrots and dressing were included in the $5 price, but having the veggies on the bottom of a pile of hot wings is never a good idea. The BBQ sauce appeared to be a commercial product (a suspicion the cook confirmed), but was doctored enough not to be as cloying as most commercial sauces. Interior of Falls City PubThere was a nice balance of sweet to sour with enough smoke to give it a nice aroma. It lived up to the “hot” part of the description and was just right for me, but I suspect some might find it a bit too hot. Another IPA finished off the meal nicely by being a good palate cleanser. The bill arrived, but unfortunately it was not itemized so I can’t report on precise prices of the ales. They averaged out to about $4 which isn’t too bad for a premium craft beer. Overall it was an enjoyable excursion and seeing some of the other food that came out of the kitchen leads me to believe a more complete review is in order.

THE RATING
Cooking: Pretty well cooked but the skin should have been crisper. 7
Varieties: 17 varieties is above average but I always like seeing descriptions 6

Value: $5 per dozen for cut wings isn’t bad when it includes veggies and dressing, but can’t compete with other “wing nights” in the area 7

Enjoyment: Decent wings, friendly and knowledgeable service and fantastic beers makes for a nice evening. Lost points for the plastic cups though. 7
OVERALL: 6.8

Falls City Pub on Urbanspoon

The Main Event wings

Wing Wars:The Main Event Sports Bar-Donegal PA

Located a bit over 1 mile west of the Donegal exit of the turnpike, The Main Event Sports Bar resides in a building that for many years was The Ponderosa Bar. A complete renovation has cleaned up what was previously a dive, but did so in a manner that was totally nondescript and lacking in character. The décor turned out to foreshadow perfectly the evening.

Main Event Sports Bar signI started the Thursday Wing & Karaoke Night with a draft Newcastle Brown Ale at $4 which was even served in a Newcastle glass. Newcastle is a hugely successful brewer from England and their product is widely available. It’s an OK example of a brown ale but lacks the nuttiness in the nose and finish you’d expect from a brown ale. The menu listed 19 varieties of wings but with no descriptions. The minimum order is six and were priced at $.45 each for wing night down from the $3.75 per six regularly. Veggies and dressing is $.75 extra. I can’t explain why the wings are priced by the piece but that you are required to buy six. Why not just say they’re $2.70 for six? After being informed the wings were single section, I ordered six “Buffalo” and six “Sweet ‘n Sassy”. They arrived quickly, served in two separate baskets, along with a plate for the bones and wet wipes. I could tell right away they were likely IQF (individually quick frozen), an impression that was confirmed with the first bite. They were cooked OK for a frozen wing but lacked juiciness and were not very meaty. The “Sweet ‘n Sassy” sauce appeared to be simply Thai Chili Sauce straight from the bottle. If it wasn’t, I’d like to get the recipe from the cook as it’s a great knock off. Without menu descriptions I wasn’t quite sure what the difference was between the “Buffalo” sauce and the other “Hot” sauces on the menu. I suspect it was the addition of butter (or butter substitute), although I’ve always made all of my “Hot” sauces with butter. There was nothing wrong with either of the sauces I ate but like everything else I experienced they were just OK.

I get the feeling the management has lost their passion for the business and have simply given up. Surfing the internet, I noticed they used to have a website but no longer do. They had also previously used Twitter but haven’t for nearly two years. One thing they will learn the hard way is that if management isn’t excited about their own restaurant the public won’t be either.

THE RATING

Cooking: Cooked decently but IQF wings are never great. 5

Varieties: 19 varieties is above average but nothing exciting and there were no descriptions 6

Value: OK price at $2.70 per six but the wings need to be better to get a good value rating 5.5

Enjoyment: Everything was just OK. They should just rename it the OK Corral. 5.5

OVERALL: 5.5

Main Event Sports Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Wing Wars:Morguen Toole Company

Although aware of the Morguen Toole Company, I had never been there before joining them for their Yuengs and Wings night this past Wednesday. I became aware of this wing night by stumbling upon their website, and although put off by the sloppy writing (there’s a difference between your and you’re) and punctuation, the photos intrigued me enough to check them out. Why would I, or you for that matter, care about grammar errors on a website? It’s relevant because when a restaurant sets a high bar of expectations, attention to detail becomes critical. In this case the website foreshadowed my entire experience.

Wing Wars:Morguen Toole CompanyMeyersdale, Pennsylvania is an old coal mining town best known today as the host of the Pennsylvania Maple Festival and for it’s location on the Great Allegheny Passage, a 135 mile hiking and biking trail. The downtown area is filled with late 19th century buildings, one of which houses the Morguen Toole Company at 130 Center Street. I approached the main door of the beautifully restored building and found it locked. After a bit of looking around, I found a sign directing me to the Alley Entrance, which is indeed back an alley. Unfortunately, once inside I wasn’t sure I was in the right place. It looked like a service entrance with no indication of where the bar was. I did hear some music, so I followed the sound to where I found what appeared to be a dining room with a sign instructing me to wait to be seated, so I waited, and waited, and after waiting some more, I wandered into the bar where I found the first indication of life, a bartender. Yuengling was advertised as the special so that’s what I ordered, and since I was the only patron in the bar, it naturally arrived fairly quickly. The beer was $3 and served in a pint canning jar, a hackneyed idea that makes no sense to me, especially in an operation that is attempting to be upscale. I guess the ceramic mugs below the bar were just for show.

The rooms are quite impressive, cavernous and loaded with original architectural details such as stamped tin ceilings, brick walls and wooden floors. Exposed utilities alludes to the industrial history of the building. The bartender informed me the pub side of the building had been a tool company and the dining room side a morgue, hence the name Morguen Toole Company. A menu was presented and I was informed that as they were conducting cooking classes that evening, the items listed would be all that would be available. I really didn’t have a problem with the limited menu as I was interested in the wings, but I was put off by the fact that the menu was a simple computer print out with no effort to present it as anything other than an after thought. Every bar I’ve visited has made the effort to at the very least add some graphics or color. Even laminating the menu would have been better than a plain sheet of copy paper. The menu listed 10 wing choices, with the “wet” and “dry” listed separately. The names “sounded” more interesting than many restaurants, but there were no descriptions and the prices were steep for an advertised “special”. The cut (1 section) wings were listed at $4.49 for 6 and $7.99 for 12, and that’s without celery or dressings. I ordered 6 of a dry rub listed as Mojo and 6 of a wet Chipotle-Sangria. The wings arrived quickly and I dug into a Mojo. Whoa! The wings were so salty I could barely eat them, and they exhibited none of the flavors I would associate with Mojo. Mojo is a Cuban marinade or sauce for grilling (primarily pork) where the predominate flavors in most versions are garlic (lots), cumin and citrus (usually orange). I picked up none of these flavors, though admittedly, it was hard to get past the salt to discern what flavors were there. If the chef was attempting to do something other than a Cuban Mojo, a description on the menu would have alerted the diner to that fact. The Chipotle-Sangria wings were better, though not what I had expected given the name. Chipotle peppers are smoked Jalapeños and although there were some smoky notes in the sauce, there was no heat at all. Also, Sangria is red wine with oranges and lemons, but the sauce offered no hint of citrus. The wings themselves were also a problem. Although not overcooked to the point of turning the meat into jerky, they were very dry. They had none of the juiciness of the better wingsin other restaurants, and I suspect this was due to using IQF wings opposed to fresh. Overall, this was a very disappointing experience. The owners have put a lot of money into this operation and they are trying to be upscale, but their lack of attention to detail will likely doom them to failure. I would like to think the Yuengs and Wings night was an anomaly since they were holding cooking classes, but I would have to think twice about making a trip to Meyersdale again based on this experience.

THE RATING
Cooking: The wings were edible but dry, likely frozen. 4
Varieties: The 10 varieties showed imagination but there were no descriptions. 5

Value: $7.99 a dozen with no celery and dressing for cut wings with $3 pints? 3

Enjoyment: The great atmosphere couldn’t overcome the substandard wings at a high price. 3
OVERALL: 3.8
Morguen Toole Company on Urbanspoon

Wings at The Alley

Wing Wars: The Alley-Reels Corner, PA

The Alley, located on the historic Lincoln Highway at the intersection with Route 160, was the next battle scene of the Wing Wars.The Alley gets its name from the fact that the building originally housed a bowling alley, and although the lanes are long gone, the sports theme remains. The huge building houses numerous pool tables, game machines and one of the few golf simulators you’ll see in the area. The bar was fairly crowded, mostly with wing eaters, but I managed to find a seat between two lovely ladies named Wendy and Wanda. And no, they weren’t twins, nor had they met prior to that evening. With no Labatt on tap, I ordered a 20 ounce Yuengling for $3. The friendly bartender quickly brought the beer, but unfortunately it was served in a flimsy plastic cup. I was a bit puzzled as there were numerous glasses on the bar, including one in front of Wendy. The bartender was a bit vague as to why this was, but it boiled down to that they “were busy”. If a bar wants to serve in plastic, that is their option. However, they shouldn’t pick and choose who gets served glass and who gets plastic. The Alley-signAnyway, along with the beer I was given a menu and informed it was wing night. Wing night at The Alley means half off the menu price of wings. Since the regular price is $5 for 6 wings and $9 for 12, this made the price of 6 FULL wings $2.50! Celery sticks and dressing are available for 50 cents each. Another pleasant surprise is that they have no minimum order. You can order 1 wing (for 50 cents) or six different varieties to get the half-dozen price. From the 16 choices on the menu, I ordered 3 each of cayenne and Alley BBQ. The wings arrived quickly, and I dug in. The skin betrayed the fact that they had been “double dipped”, but not to the point of turning the meat into jerky. The sauces were both good, though not remarkable in any way. I would have expected more heat from the cayenne and the Alley BBQ had well-balanced sweet and sour but had no real depth of flavor. Over all, these were very good wings at a super price. Getting to Reels Corners is a bit of a drive for me, but I wouldn’t hesitate in the future for this wing night.

THE RATING

Cooking: Very well cooked even though they had been “double dipped”. 9

Varieties: 16 varieties is a bit above average and the descriptions are good for extra points. 7.5

Value: $2.50 for 6 full wings is fantastic. Adding another buck for veggies and dressing drops it a bit to “very good”. 9.5

Enjoyment: Over all, very good wings and great service. Lost points for the plastic cups though. 8

OVERALL: 8.6

The Alley on Urbanspoon

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

 
Mel's Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

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
Rock City Cafe' on Urbanspoon