Otter’s Chicken Tenders

Otter’s Chicken Tenders
1528 Demonbreun St
Nashville, TN 37203

Whenever people find out about my hot wing obsession, it is not uncommon for me to be asked, “So, where are the best wings in town?” or, “What are the best wings you have ever had?”  Never, am I asked about the WORST wings I ever had.  And why would they?  Who wants to know where to find horrible wings?  Unless they have some sort of irrational fear of bad wings and want “expert” advice on places to avoid.  Well folks, here you go… the nicest review for the worst wings I have ever eaten.  Ever.

I was taking a trip to Nashville and that this place was within walking distance of my hotel.  There are two locations; both in Nashville, none in Memphis.  No surprise, I hotfooted myself over there as soon as I set my bag down.

This being a blog about wings, I usually don’t write much about the space, or the non-food related experience in general.  I save all of that stuff for my Yelp reviews.  In this case, I will only say that the restaurant was plastic and boring with walk-up ordering and self-service drinks.   The staff were obviously paid very little, and cared even less.  Still, I pressed on and ordered classic-style hot wings with blue cheese.  It took forever, and yet the wings were puny and under-cooked.  The sauce was awful.  Awful!  It was very thick and not very spicy.  There was a strange flavor that didn’t belong, and curiosity is the only reason I ate more than one bite.  It was oddly familiar, but…. wait…. I know!  It’s refrigerator stank!  If you have ever tasted butter that has been lurking around someone’s fringe for way too long, or eaten freezer-burnt ice cream, you probably know what I’m talking about.  That is exactly what the mystery flavor was, and after pining that down, I was satisfied to throw the rest of the wings in the trash.

Rating: *

Outback Steakhouse

Outback Steakhouse
2255 Union Ave.
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 728-5100

Typically, I avoid chain restaurants, but sometimes it can’t be helped.  When I do go to chains, I order wings if they are on the menu.  In this case, a good friend of mine had a gift card that was about to expire and he asked me to go with him.  “They do have wings,” he said, so I went.

The wings at Outback Steakhouse are prepared using a dry rub rather than sauce.  The menu reads, “Chicken wings tossed in a savory blend of secret spices and paired with our cool creamy Blue cheese dressing and celery. Choose mild, medium or hot.”  I selected to have them hot.  I was pleasantly surprised that these wings were pretty good.  The “blend of secret spices” tasted a lot like Tony Chachere’s seasoning to me and it pared very well with the blue cheese dressing.  They were cooked until crispy and the meat was tender.  Overall, I enjoyed them.  If I find myself eating at an Outback Steakhouse again, I will probably order these wings again.

Rating: ***

Dry-rubbed wings from Outback Steakhouse in Memphis, TN.

Superior Restaurant and Bar

Superior Restaurant and Bar
159 Beale Street
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 523-1940

Superior Restaurant and Bar is located on the famous Beale Street in downtown Memphis.  Typically, I avoid eating on Beale Street because downtown Memphis offers so many choices that are far better than what you will find at this tourist attraction.  There are exceptions to every rule however, as I will never turn down a burger from Dyer’s.  Recently, I visited Dyer’s to try the wings and I was impressed.  I can see myself making a special trip to Beale Street just to eat those wings again.  So, do good hot wings exist at other Beale Street establishments?  That’s what I wanted to find out.

There are two kinds of wings on the menu at Superior; wings with classic buffalo sauce and breaded wings, which are not sauced.  Both types are served in orders of six whole wings with dressing.  Of course, being the purest that I am, I selected the classic wings with blue cheese dressing.  After I placed my order I chatted with the chef and my server about the sauce, and that’s when I learned that the wing sauce at Superior is nothing more than Frank’s and Butter.  Perfect!  Nothing wrong with that at all!  Soon my wings arrived and I was surprised to see that that cook had added a breaded wing for me to try.  The classic wings were very good.  There were cooked well and had just the right amount of sauce.  The butter to hot sauce ratio was ideal.

I wasn’t expecting to like the breaded wing but I thought it was very good too.  It was lightly dusted in flour and spices for a mild kick of heat and skin that was extra crisp.  One order of wings more than enough food for this chicky.  I ended up taking half of the wings home.

I had a hard time deciding between a three star rating and a four star rating for these wings.  The solution was to wait a few weeks before hitting publish.  As time passed, I realized that these wings were good, but not awesome or obsession-worthy.  Three stars it is.

Rating: ***

Hot wings from Superior Restaurant and Bar

Hot wings from Superior Restaurant and Bar

 

 

Fox & Hound

Fox & Hound
6565 Towne Center Lp
Southaven, MS 38671
(662) 536-2200

One doesn’t go to Fox & Hound to eat; one goes to watch sports and drink beer with the dudes. Or chicks.  But if one happens to be hungry while watching sports and drinking beer, why not have some wings?

There are three Fox & Hound locations in or near Memphis.  None of them are anywhere near where I live, but they are all within twenty miles or so.  That being said, my visits to Fox & Hound are few and far between.  When a couple of my friends asked if I would meet them at the Southaven location I thought, “Why not? At least they have wings.”  I made the half-hour drive with rumble in my stomach.  I was hungry!

The wings are listed on the menu as “Grand Champion Wings,” which is a nod to the sports theme and not an indication of quality.  There are nine, yes nine, flavor options: Mild, Medium, Hot, Honey Hot, Spicy Garlic, BBQ, Spicy BBQ, Honey Mustard BBQ, and Sweet Chilli Garlic.  Phew!  We ordered twenty wings; half Hot, and half Spicy Garlic.

We didn’t have to wait long before our server brought the wings to the table.  The two flavors looked so much alike that she stuck one of the spicy garlic wings with a toothpick so that we would know which was which.  The first thing I noticed was the black pepper in the sauce.  It’s not often that you see black pepper in wing sauce and I wouldn’t have expected to see pepper in a garlic sauce at all.  The next think I noted was the smell.  These wings smelled great, and I knew they would be very hot!  They were on the small side but not the smallest wings I’ve seen.

I tried the hot flavor first.  They were quite hot, and I detected Worcestershire sauce in the mix.  Worcestershire is common ingredient in classic wing sauce that is usually added in small amounts.  This time it was a bit too much and it made the sauce way too salty.  Surprisingly, the spicy garlic flavor tasted almost exactly the same as the hot flavor.  In fact, I really couldn’t taste much of a difference at all, other than the fact that the spicy garlic didn’t pack quite as much heat.  Sadly, these less than stellar wings were overcooked.  They might have been redeemed with proper cooking, but the kitchen used oil that was way too hot.  How can I tell?  Cracked and shattered chicken bones, that’s how.  The meat was tough and the broken up bones where difficult to navigate. Yay!

Rating: *

Fox & Hound Southaven wings. Hot (left), Spicy Garlic (right)

Central BBQ (Downtown)

Central BBQ
147 E. Butler Ave.
Downtown
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 672-7760

Dear Central BBQ,
I am so excited that you have joined the downtown dining scene.  Your new restaurant is just gorgeous with it’s polished concrete floors, sparkling open-view kitchen, and self-serve sauce station.  However, I can’t help but wonder what happened to the smoked wings. They shrunk!  I mean seriously, a standard dinner roll should not be larger than a whole chicken wing (see picture bellow).  I sure hope your chicken vendor is not charging you full price for these wings, because otherwise you have been robbed my friend.  Also, I have to tell you… the wings at your Central Ave location are consistently great, but these downtown wings were a little dry.  Maybe it’s the size of the wing that caused the dry-out, because I would be willing to bet they were prepared with the same amount of cooking time as a regular-sized whole wing would require.  Thus, it would make sense that they may have been unintentionally overcooked.  This is just a suggestion, but please don’t be so stingy with the sauce.  I ordered the hot wings and I felt the need to ask for extra sauce since there was hardly any sauce on my wings at all.  The smokey flavor was there but no heat.  Kudos to the employee who offered to take the wings back to the kitchen so that they could be sauced again.  I declined because I didn’t really see that as necessary seeing as how I could easily dip my wings in the side of sauce she gave me.

Regrettably, this introduction to your downtown location left me disappointed.  Chances are good that if I ever visit again I will order something else for fear of a repeat experience.  I sincerely hope that your Central Avenue location is producing the same great wings they have always served.  I’ll have to check on that soon.

Regards,
Hot Sauce

P.S.  The ribs were awesome!

Rating: **

Smoked Hot Wings from Central BBQ Downtown Memphis

Disappointing smoked hot wings from the new Central BBQ downtown location. Look how small they are! They were also dry and needed more sauce.

 

The Dublin House

The Dublin House
2012 Madison Ave
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 278-0048

The Dublin House is a little Irish bar less than a mile from my house and I didn’t even know they were serving wings until I received a text about it from a friend last Wednesday night.  She had heard the wings were good and that Dublin was offering them up at 50 cents a piece that night.  Seeing as how Wednesday marks the end of my work week, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to kick off the weekend.

Dublin House has three flavor options for wings; regular (not sure what that means), BBQ, and hot.  There were four of us eating so we ordered a few dozen hot wings.  It didn’t take long before the wings were in front of us, still steaming from the fryer.  I could tell immediately that these wings were going to be good.  The aroma of the sauce was intoxicating and it looked as though the skin would be crispy.

So, did my senses mislead me?  No way!  These wings were much hotter than most wings I’ve tried around town, but the sauce was flavorful at the same time.  The heat is felt immediately, but it stays at a tolerable level and it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the peppers and other seasonings in the sauce.  The texture was almost perfect.  I look for tender meat and crispy skin.  Dublin house has the crisp skin part down, but the meat could have been a bit more tender.  This is a minor objection because I’m being picky for the sake of this review and this blog.  I really enjoyed these wings and I’m already making plans to eat them again later this week.  It’s a well deserved four-star rating for Dublin House hot wings.  Those who prefer mild hot wing sauce you will probably disagree with me because these babies definitely deliver a kick in the mouth… followed by a kick in the gut!

NOTE: Dublin House is a BAR, and a smoky one at that.  If you are bothered by cigarette smoke you might want to get your wings to go.  The quick dash inside will be worth it though.  Trust me!

Rating: ****

Dublin House Hot Wings

Hot wings from Dublin House in midtown Memphis.

Local Overton Square

Local Overton Square
2126 Madison Ave
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 725-1845

Local Gastropub opened downtown on South Main a few years ago. My friends and I have really grown to like the place; some of us may even be considered regulars.  I’ve never had a bad meal at Local.  I’ve had the hot wings at Local many, many times and they are good.  Not my favorite wing option downtown, but good.

Local is pretty proud of their wings; even calling them “award winning.”  So when Local announced that they would open a second location in midtown, I knew hot wings would be on the menu, and I made it my mission to see how the wings would compare to the wings I’ve enjoyed at the Local downtown.  I had anticipated on opening in late August, as I had been told, but here we are in the first week of November and they are just now up and running.

Last Thursday I got my chance to check out the new Local Overton Square on the corner of Madison and Cooper, which was once home to a dive bar called Yosemite Sam’s.  I must say the transformation of the space is impressive, but I’m not here to discuss the decor.

At the downtown location you have a choice between a half or a full order of wings.  In midtown there is no choice; it’s 10 wings and dressing for $11.  Local wings are served one way: no fries, no celery; just wing sections fried and tossed in a signature sauce.  There are no flavor options. That’s okay with me though because the sauce they create is excellent.  It’s a very buttery blend of peppers and herbs.  Yes, herbs.  If that sounds weird, trust me, it works.  The herbal flavor is not overwhelming at all, in fact, it mingles with the heat and butter quite nicely.  Some people might not even notice it.  It’s kinda hard to miss the little green flakes in the sauce, however.

So the question was… Would the midtown Local wings standup to the downtown Local wings?  The answer is an enthusiastic YES!  Actually, the wings I had were BETTER than the wings I’ve eaten downtown.  There are two reasons for this; they were bigger and crispier in midtown.  That’s two major judging points right there!  I loved these wings and I’m looking forward to my next opportunity to eat them again.  I just hope it wasn’t an opening week fluke!

Rating: ****

Wings at the new Local in Midtown