When I heard that a chicken wing joint was opening two doors down from St. Louis on Bloor, I thought that was a dumb idea. A few months later, when another bar specializing in wings opened at the corner of Bloor and Walmer, well, I figured that was a really dumb idea. Yet I found myself drawn to the winning combination of spicy wings and beer, so today I went to all three wing joints. My verdict is as follows:
St. Louis Bar and Grill – 376 Bloor
The most established wing joint on the block, they boast a sign in the window proclaiming that the Toronto Sun named them “King of the Wing.” The Sun, short-staffed as it is, might not be the best judge of chicken wings in Toronto, but it certainly remains a ringing endorsement. The place has TV screens on every wall, showcasing the Army-Navy NCAA football game on this afternoon. As for the food, well, I had already tried the so-called Authentic Buffalo Wings at their location across from the Rogers Centre, and found them lacking when compared to the fare offered at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, the establishment which serves as a measuring stick for so-called “Buffalo wings” worldwide. So I opted for the cajun wings, which didn’t claim to be authentic in any way. (Not that I would know, as I’ve never been to NOLA…) The scent of the dry wings was almost overpowering, yet they only offered a mild kick, with little aftertaste. Easily washed down by a couple pints of Rickard’s Red.
Joual French Verdict: Pas Pire…
Wing Shop 366 – 366 Bloor
This Asian-run restaurant displays its Liquor License Application in the window, but doesn’t yet serve booze. They only boast one TV screen, which was tuned to some cartoon with talking dogs rather than the afternoon’s football action. On the plus side, they offer no less than 66 flavours of chicken wings, including some that are hard to fathom. (Alfredo wings? Seriously?) I was having a hard time deciding, so I asked the counter guy, who told me that the sweet Thai chili wings were a popular choice. They were quite tangy–not in the Buffalo sense, more like Chinese food–without setting the mouth ablaze. Apparently, they also put their chicken wing sauces on their “Hugo Burger” (aren’t they missing an “e” somewhere?) although I’ve yet to have the beef in the upstart establishment, which has perhaps too much window signage for its own good.
Joual French Verdict: Ben, cé quand-même assez bon..
Puck’n Wings – 362 Bloor
The newcomer on the block. This location of the local franchise has only been opened for a couple weeks, although their signs have been up for a lot longer. As a Labatt man, this is my kinda bar, where they have both Blue and 50 on tap. The decor is hockey themed, with floors dotted with face-off circles and half-boards separating sections of tables. The menu is centred around their 50 flavours of wings, rated from one to six on the hotness scale. I go for the Baton Rouge wings, which are a four, although the bartender warns me that they should really be a five and a half. She wasn’t kidding. Described as “a mix of sweet and spicy flavours,” these wings are bigger and meater than their competitors’–and leave a burning feeling in your mouth. Unlike St. Louis, a pound doesn’t come with fries, but rather a handful of carrot and celery sticks, which I scarfed down too quickly to offset the spicy heat. If these are only a four on their spiciness scale, I can’t even imagine eating a six. I’m told it’s quite painful…
Joual French Verdict: Esti d’calisse, ca brule!
Tune in to Smokin’ Green tonite at 1 am for music from Unicorpse, Nadja, On the Verge, Jakk Damage, Electric Magma, Ape, Quest For Fire, Isis, Acid Mothers Temple and more! That’s 88.1 fm on yer radio, channel 947 on yer TV or www.ckln.fm on yer computer. If I’m a tad intoxicated, I blame it on the Baton Rouge wings…