Address: 3301 Richmond Street Philadelphia, PA 19134
Web site: www.byrnestavern.net
Price: 12 Pieces for $7.25
Tracy’s Overall Review: After an almost year-long hiatus from wing reviews I wanted to go someplace good. Site visitors and people IRL have raved about Byrne’s wings so it was at the top of our to-do list. When I got there and sat down I noticed a few red flags. First the price, it was higher than average — ok if the wings are great, but still a little weird. Also you had to pay extra for celery and bleu cheese dressing. That is just strange especially when the price is already high. Third they kept the wing tips on, something I don’t like, but I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
When the wings came out, and we took our first bites, a few things hit us right away. First they were warmish, but not hot. It was like they were made earlier and then put under a heat lamp before serving. This made the wings tender, but not crispy at all. Also the wings seemed to have a light coating on them, not good. The size of the wings were inconsistent. Most were small, a few were medium, but some were mutant small. You know the kind…the bone has a tiny, weird chunk of meat on it that doesn’t even look like a wing. If a tiny mutant wing is going to count as one of your 12 in a serving then that is just uncool. However, the sauce was tasty, if the wings were decent sized and prepared better it would have been delicious. I think the most disconcerting thing was both Scott and I, and our co-worker that came with us, all had stomach aches soon after getting back to the office. That’s a little disturbing.
Scott’s Overall Review: Walking into Bynes had the aroma of good wings, so my hopes and appetite were up. When we sat down I kind of felt a bit uncomfortable, the dining area was a little small, cold and I felt like we were getting the fish eye. Paranoia and chill aside, I was ready and optimistic that the wings were going to be good. We ordered the wings and no longer then 10mins later they were promptly served. At first glance they looked a little skimpy, but the smell and color was there. I reached for the first wing and it was cold to the touch. The second wing was cold and kind of mutilated. The wing looked like the chicken had compound fracture and then was fried. The sauce was really good, just needed to be a little hotter which is why it makes this review so hard. I mean, I think these wings could be really good. I just think that this was a lack of effort. It was like we got the bottom of the pantry and the cook was hungover from the night before. The sauce is good and I think there is potential. The wings just need to be a little bigger, not mutilated, a little spicier and at least luke warm. If they step it up a little bit I would go back.
Authenticity: The wings had some kind of very light coating on them. Scott thought maybe cornstarch with spices. Not authentic. Also the tips were left on.
Wing size: Mutant small to small to medium.
Sauce: The sauce was not bad. It could stand to be hotter, but it was tasty.
Accouterments: You had to pay extra for celery (60¢) and Bleu Cheese dressing (25¢). Our pal and coworker, Pearson, who was with us on this wing trip, described the Bleu Cheese dressing as having a glossy sheen. It also had a yellow-ish hue. Despite it’s apprearance, it still tasted decent and had a good number of bleu cheese chunks in it.
Atmosphere: Byrne’s is a long-established Port Richmond institution. The old, historical photographs on the walls are great. It was homey and unpretentious with its wood wainscoting and standard-issue Irish Bar decor. The people weren’t exactly warm and friendly, but the service was fine. It can’t be typecast as a stereotypical Irish Bar, because they are known for steamed crabs which always gives a place a Chesapeake Bay vibe. Plus they serve Cannolis. I think the disconnect between the glowing reviews we’ve read and heard vs our experience can be explained by below average effort going into these particular batches of wings. The sauce was good…if they used better sized, non mutant wings, got rid of the coating and fried them up fresh and hot they would have been good. Oh, and they need to not do whatever they did to them to give us all stomach aches.
Address: 1600 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19121
Price: 10 Pieces for $6.99
Tracy’s Overall Review: Scott and I are not big fans of chain restaurants, but we knew we had to hit the corporate wing places eventually so we decided to start with Wing Stop. First off the wings were small…some of them were downright tiny, however they were pleasantly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. They let you get 2 different flavors of wings in your order so I got mild and original hot. The mild was disgusting. Seriously, it was like the stuff they pour on buttered popcorn at the movies. It did not taste like Buffalo Wing sauce at all. The hot was not bad. It was a not-found-in-nature red color, but it tasted pretty decent. However the lack of celery, the gross “bleu cheese” dipping sauce and that nasty mild wing sauce kept me from putting this in the “good” category.
Scott’s Overall Review: The service at Wing Stop was surprisingly very good. The Cashier at the front was very happy, helpful and nice. I had ordered the original hot and the atomic wings. The original hot was a little small and just had something missing. I think they were missing that vinegary bite and had of an awkward peppery taste. The wing almost tasted like it had black pepper thrown into the mix. They seemed to be authentic, there was no breading, no hint of sweetness or any fancy additions. The wings came with a dipping sauce choice of ranch or bleu cheese. The atomic wings were not a buffalo wing sauce. The wing was topped with pepper seeds and more painful then actually enjoyable. The original hot was the better tasting and authentic sauce out of the two. Thankfully, you get to mix two types of sauces in an order of ten wings or the trip would have been just painful. I guess the search continues!
Authenticity: Passed the authenticity test.
Wing size: Small to very small.
Sauce: If you decide to go to Wing Stop go for the “original hot” flavor sauce. The mild is horrible and the “Atomic” is just painful and not in a good way.
Accouterments: The wings do not come with celery or bleu cheese dressing. They do not offer celery at all. They do sell dipping sauces, including bleu cheese, but traditionally the bleu cheese is not for dipping the actual wings in. We did try the bleu cheese and it was gross. It tasted like fast food salad dressing with no detectable bleu cheese.
Atmosphere: The place was nicer than your average fast food place, it was clean — even the bathrooms! It has a weird WWII airplane theme (get it, wings?) meets scaled back TGIFridays feel to it. They were pumping out the cheesy Auto-Tuned R&B in full force. The most pleasant surprise was the excellent service. The people working there were super friendly and attentive and not in a “I am being forced to be friendly” way. It was very nice.
Address: 558 College Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6G 1B1
Price: 10 Pieces for $9.75 (CAD)
Tracy’s Overall Review: I was on vacation in Toronto which is only 2 hours from Buffalo, NY so I had high hopes for finding good wings. These were not them. They were small and overcooked (a very bad combination) making them crispy on the outside and tough on the inside. They brought out the celery as an appetizer before the wings. That is just weird. They also had this ranch dressing-like dipping sauce that had dill in it. That is just wrong. I was really disappointed because this place looked like it took wings very seriously. They did have a nice touch of giving you a bucket to put the bones in.
Authenticity: Passed the authenticity test.
Wing size: They were small.
Sauce: The sauce was eh. Not very tasty. They have a wide range of heat levels to choose from: mild, mild-medium, medium, medium-hot, hot, super hot, death and Armageddon. They have all kinds of warnings “the medium is hot and the hot is super hot” etc. But I got mild-medium and it was not hot at all. I was so disappointed with the flavor of the sauce I ordered some hot on the side and it wasn’t much better.
Accouterments: The celery came out like an appetizer well before the wings. It came with a ranch-like dipping sauce with dill in it. Not only wasn’t it very good, it was just wrong. It should have been bleu cheese.
Atmosphere: I would describe the place as a upscale-ish generic sports bar. We were there at lunchtime and it was pretty empty. They were playing cheesy music including a really bad cover of Boys of Summer (a bad enough song on its own). The place was COVERED with decor boasting about their famous wings and the history of the original Duff’s in Buffalo, NY. They claim that their wings are “an original.” I just think a place that takes their wing history as seriously as they do should have better tasting wings.
Address: 1116 Walnut St Philadelphia, PA 19107
Price: 8 to 10 Pieces for $8.99
Tracy’s Overall Review: These wings got off to a good start but quickly degenerated into a dry, salty pile of chicken arms. I don’t like having to dismember wings before I eat them. By the time I ate a couple wings the remaining were so dry they actually grossed me out so bad I couldn’t finish them.
Scott’s Overall Review: The atmosphere was nice. The place is very clean, has an extensive bar and nice people.
The wings?!? The wings are a little confusing. A little different at first glance since the wings aren’t cut. The first couple wings were really good, but something happened. Maybe there was a change in the earths gravitational pull, I don’t know. The wings were very crispy and the sauce good but sparse. I think the goal here was to get a nice crispy no mess wing. They accomplished that but as time passed the wings dried out and were not as good. They could have been a contender. They just needed to give more sauce even if it was on the side. The worst part of the order had to be the bleu cheese. I am not even sure if its allowed to be called bleu cheese. The taste is reminiscent of mayo and rubber with barely any chunks of cheese. For a nice size order of wings there was also very little celery and carrots. All in all okay but the search continues…
Authenticity: First off they serve the wings whole (inedible wing tip and all) and unchopped. That’s not how they do ‘em in Buffalo. They seemed not to use any extraneous ingredients in the sauce.
Wing size: The sizes varied, but they averaged out to a decent size. The downside was the smaller wings got a little overcooked. They say you get 8 to 10 in an order. We got 9.
Sauce: The sauce was good when the wings first came out, but then within minutes it became this dry, salty, orange wing coating. It kept your fingers cleaner than usual, but it was pretty nasty. Also it only comes in one (pretty mild) variety.
Accouterments: Pretty lame. We got only 3 celery stalks and some carrot sticks. Also the “bleu cheese dressing” was just gross. It was like a cup of mayonaise with some bleu cheese crumbles in it.
Atmosphere: Quintessential Irish Pub, complete with Irish music playing nonstop on the speakers, a zillion beer mugs lining the walls and a giant Bufflao head behind the bar. It was super busy with the lunch crowd when we first got there, but by the time we got our wings (it took them 25 minutes) it was just us and the alcoholics. The waitress was super nice. This place is also the recipient of a few Philly “best wings” awards (although we’re not feelin’ it).