Max’s Sports Bar

Max’s Sports Bar
115 E GE Patterson Ave
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 528-8600

I got a text last Saturday from a friend that read, “Wings for lunch at Double J @11:30.  You better be there.”  Well, this situation presents a wing blogger’s dilemma.  Do I join my friend for wings at a place I love, for a lunch of wings that I have already tasted, enjoyed, and reviewed?  Or, do I decline the invite and seek out untried wings for the sake of blogging material?  Max’s Sports Bar was the perfect resolve!  It’s located across the street from the Double J Smokehouse and Saloon and I had not yet tried the wings.

I met my friend on the Double J patio and called Max’s to place a wing order to go.  The girl who answered the phone unenthusiastically rattled off my options.  The sauce options included buffalo, BBQ, and honey habanero.   I ordered eight wings, hot, with blue cheese dressing.  The girl told me it would be about 30 minuets.  Yikes!  They didn’t look that busy from across the street!  Then again, it was a Saturday afternoon during football season.

After about twenty minuets passed I walked across the street to Max’s and inquired about my to-go order.  I was told it wasn’t quite ready so I took a seat at the bar to wait.  Had I not shown up early, I might never have known that these wings are broiled, rather than fried. Yes, broiled!  Apparently, Max’s Sports Bar is not equipped with a fryer.

I took the opportunity to ask about the sauce which I learned is nothing but Frank’s Hot Sauce.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Frank’s Hot Sauce.  I have an open bottle in my fridge and two back-up bottles in the pantry at all times.  But, that is exactly my point.  I can broil wings in the oven and toss them in Frank’s at home, and ofter do.  So far, I was not impressed but I was willing to give Max’s the benefit of the doubt.

Back across the street at the Double J I opened my to-go container and was smacked in the face with the unmistakeable aroma of Frank’s Hot Sauce.  Unfortunately, the smell was the height of the Max’s wing experience.  Burnt spots on the skin of the wings was not an indication of crispness.  In fact, these wings were not crisp at all and the longer I sat eating the wings, the soggier and softer they got.  Yuck.  I ate about half of them.  When I broil wings at home they turn out crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside.  These wings were more like toaster oven wings.  Initially, I thought I would take the rest with me and put them under my own broiler for a snack later, but I changed my mind and threw them away on the way home.

Rating: *

Hot Wings at Max's Sports Bar

Broiled “hot wings” at Max’s Sports Bar in Memphis. Never again.

 

Dyer’s Burgers

Dyer’s Burgers
205 Beale St
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 527-3937

Dyer’s Burgers is Memphis institution that is famous for (of course) burgers.  Legend has it the burgers served here are cooked in 100 year old grease.  People tend to have strong opinions as to weather or not the burgers are actually good, probably because the patties are very thin and the standard commercially produced bun used becomes a greasy mess.  Personally, I love the Dyer’s burger!  I don’t eat bread so I always get mine without the bun.  I like the triple triple; three patties, and three slices of cheese. I eat with a fork. Yes, it’s greasy, but that’s what makes it so good!

A while back, during one of my many visits to Dyer’s, I sat next to a uniformed cop who ordered wings for his dinner.  His basket full of whole wings looked and smelled great.  He told me that Dyer’s had some of the best wings in town and that I should give them a try.  As a general rule, I feel that cops always know where to go for good food.  If I see cop cars parked at a restaurant on a regular basis, I treat it as an indication that food and service are both good.  My mother taught me this a long time ago and over the years I have been disappointed by the cops exactly once.  This weekend I got the opportunity to see if this cop knew what he was talking about.

I went to Dyer’s late Friday afternoon on a solo wing-eating mission.  I took a seat at the bar and looked at the menu.  At Dyer’s you can order 5 wings for $7.99 or 10 wings for 14.99.  Combos with fries are also available. The wings are served hot or mild with dressing and a roll, no celery.  I ordered 5 wings, hot, with blue cheese.  Interestingly, the menu lists honey mustard as a dressing option.  Really?  Honey mustard on a hot wing?

One of the things I like about Dyer’s is being able to watch as your order is prepared.  The entire kitchen is directly on the other side of the bar, much like a Waffle House.  Just in case you were wondering, the wings are not cooked in the 100 year old burger grease.  They are cooked in a standard industrial grease hopper and then tossed with sauce in a giant Tupperware-type container.

I was a little disappointed when I realized that I wasn’t getting whole wings.  I guess they were out of whole wings because I was served 10 wing sections instead.  My disappointment quickly faded.  Whole or not, the sauce was great!  I could tell that it was a custom blend and not just some sauce out of a bottle.  I asked what was in the sauce and this is what I was told, “Franks, chipotle, honey, jalapenos, and Italian dressing.”  The combination of flavors was pretty outstanding.  The heat took a while to build intensity and hours later my lips where still burning a bit.  Normally, I would balk at honey (sugar) in hot wings sauce, but in this case there was just enough honey cut the heat without making the sauce sticky or sweet.  The cop was right, I really enjoyed these wings.

Rating: ****

Wings at Dyer's Burgers

Loved these wings from Dyer’s Burgers on Beale St.

Slider Inn

Slider Inn
2117 Peabody Ave
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 725-1155

I went to Slider Inn for lunch today and I’m sadden to report that my visit left me disappointed. Keep reading…

I had a lunch date and the weather was beautiful, especially for mid October.  The sunshine and mild temperature demanded patio dining.  So, while deciding where to have lunch, we considered only restaurants in Midtown with patios.  I have been a fan of Slider Inn since I attended the grand opening party a little over a year ago.  They have a great patio and I had enjoyed the wings before… Wings on the patio at Slider Inn sounded like a fantastic idea.

For $6.99 you can get six hot wings served with celery and a choice of blue cheese or ranch dressing.  I chose blue cheese, of course.  Only weirdos eat hot wings with ranch dressing, right?  When our server (who was awesome by the way) brought my wings to the table I was immediately disappointed.  I had ordered wings here on a handful of occasions and the wings have always been good; not outstanding, but good.  This time, however, I could tell they were not up to par.  The chicken wing sections were very small and I could hardly detect an aroma of pepper.  You can see just how small the wings were by comparing them to the celery in the picture below.  I could also tell, just by looking, that the skin lacked the slight crunch that I look for in a good hot wing.  So, were my visual observations correct?  Yep, one hundred percent correct.  The meat was cooked but the skin lacked any crunch at all.  The sauce was buttery, too buttery for my taste, and had almost NO heat.

The hot wings I ate today were not the same wings I had enjoyed at Slider Inn in the past.  I’m going to give these wings a two-star rating for now with the hope the quality will be back to standard on a future visit.

Rating: **

Hot Wings at Slider Inn

Disappointing hot wings at Slider Inn

BOM – Part III

It’s been almost two weeks since the Memphis Flyer published results of it’s 2012 Best of Memphis reader poll.  This will be my third and final post on the subject.  Many people, myself included, have grown tired of seeing the same restaurants listed year after year, but in the categories for newly opened establishments there are no repeat winners.

Best New Restaurant
1. Alchemy - I love Alchemy… More on that later in this post.
2. Slider Inn - Great patio, pretty good wings (review coming soon), and the kitchen is open late.  I’m a fan.
3. Stone Soup Cafe – Sadly, I haven’t paid a visit yet.

Best New Bar
1. Alchemy – I totally agree.
2. Slider Inn – The bar area is cramped but the patio and service make up for that.
3. Blind Bear – I have mixed emotions about Blind Bear.  Sometimes I love it and sometimes I don’t. 

I would have been thrilled to see the Double J Smokehouse and Saloon make it to either or both of these lists.  I have spent more time (and money) at the Double J than any other restaurant this year.  The food is great, both bars are great, the patio is great.  What’s not to love?  Oh, did I mention they have really good smoked hot wings?

I’m pleased to see Alchemy on both lists, and in the first position!  Alchemy is also a favorite of mine.  The fist time I walked in to Alchemy I was in awe of the beauty of the place.  There is nothing else like it in Memphis.  The horseshoe shaped bar is perfect for people watching, and the typical crowd and Alchemy is definitely worth watching. They do have chicken wings on the menu but they are covered in a sugary sauce, so I’ve never tried them.  No worries though, Alchemy has many things on the menu that I can, and do eat.  The lamb ribs have to be one of my favorite dishes in Memphis.  Here is picture for your viewing pleasure…

Lamb Ribs at Alchemy

The picture could be better quality, but these ribs are fantastic! If you like lamb, you should visit Alchemy and try the lamb ribs.

Alchemy also won the Best Bar, and Best Martini categories, and tied for first with Sweet Grass (directly across the street) in the Best New American Cuisine category. Yay for Alchemy!  It makes me happy to see this place get some well deserved, positive recognition.

 

Billy’s Oyster Bar

Billy’s Oyster Bar
3000 Thomas Dr
Panama City, FL 32408
(850) 235-2349

I can’t even remember why we decided to have lunch at this place but it turned out to be a pretty decent choice.  We arrived during happy hour early on a Tuesday afternoon.  We grabbed a booth on the mostly empty patio.  There are a lot of places in Panama City Beach that have water-view dining, Billy’s Oyster Bar is not one of them.  The patio area is large and comfortable but since the restaurant is located on Thomas Dr you’re getting a view of the street.

Our server went over the happy hour specials which made it easy to decide what to order. Two for one well drinks and draft beer, and half price wings.  Bingo!!  Billy’s Oyster Bar offers three flavor choices; BBQ, Caribbean-style, and Pepper Crusted.  I went with the Pepper Crusted based on the server’s recommendation.  I received twelve flats and drummies with blue cheese dressing and celery.  I’m not sure what the “pepper crusted” thing was all about because I couldn’t pick out any pepper or crust, but they were pretty darn good.  They were mild in spice and impressive in size.  No joke… these wings were huge!!   I could only eat about four of the twelve wings before I was full.  I had a little help with a couple of them and took four wings home.  I ended up with two meals for around 5 dollars (happy hour price).  What a deal!  The size of the wings alone bumps these wings from three to four stars.

Rating: ****

Pepper Crusted WIngs at Billy's Oyster Bar

Pepper Crusted wings at Billy’s Oyster Bar. These suckers were HUGE!

Broadway Brewhouse

Broadway Brewhouse
317 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37201-2005
(615) 271-2838
Broadway Brewhouse is a small chain of restaurants in the Nashville area.  They have five locations, including the one I visited in the very touristy area of downtown Nashville.  I’m sure that some visitors may have a hard time picking something to eat from the huge menu.  For me it was a no-brainer… I had to get the wings.
The menu offers three wing flavors to chose from, all of them with unconventional names accompanied by descriptions.  Gringo, described as a dry seasoned wing, is the mild option.  The next step up in heat is the Chipotle BBQ; a tangy, smoky sauce with medium heat.  The hot option is called Panama; a jalapeno, molasses glaze.  Mojo is the hottest and it’s decsribed as a sticky, sweet, hot habanero sauce.  Well, three out of four of these flavors obviously contain sugar, and I’m not a fan of sugar on my wings, so I went with the Gringo wings.  A half order is five wings which I figured was plenty for me since I wasn’t all that hungry at.  
All five wings were pieces were drummies served with a spicy ranch sauce and celery.  The seasoning on the wings was indeed mild and much different than I expected. I thought that the seasoning would be similar to a spicy bbq rub, but there was strong herbal flavor in the mix…. rosemary perhaps.  Whatever was in the seasoning worked for me and the spicy ranch was the perfect compliment.  The skin of the chicken was crunchy and the meat was tender and juicy… just they way I like ‘em.  Honesty, I was surprised I enjoyed these wings as much as I did.  I usually go for a classic hot wing sauce, but in the absence of that option, the Mojo wings were a good choice.  The combination of flavors and texture won me over.  These wings my not have been classic buffalo style, but I was more than satisfied.
Rating: ****
Mojo Wings at Broadway Brewhouse

Mojo Wings at Broadway Brewhouse. The picture really does not do these wings justice. Blame the photographer.

 

BOM Part II

This is the second post in my series discussing results of the Memphis Flyer’s Best of Memphis reader poll.  This time I will highlight a few more protein heavy categories near and dear to my heart with commentary (in italics) that is decidedly more positive than my previous post.

Best Barbecue
1. Central BBQ – They win every year because the food is constantly good. I send tourist here on a regular basis.  You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
2. Germantown Commissary – LOVE the salad topped with pulled pork BBQ.  This darn salad is so big I can make 3 meals out of it!
3. Bar-B-Q Shop & Corky’s (Tied for 3rd) – Bar-B-Q Shop is right around the corner from my house and when I’m craving BBQ beef it’s the only place I consider.  

Best Ribs
1. Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous – Yawn.  Deffinantly the most expensive ribs but not the best in town.  However, for tourist stuck downtown, I beg that they avoid the temptation to sample ribs on Beale St and visit Rendezous instead.
2. Central BBQ – The ribs are pretty good but I gravitate toward the wings. Obviously.
3. Corky’s – Corky’s is for speedy ribs… I have been known to go through the drive-thru and score a rack of dry ribs on the way to a party.  The ribs are always a hit when I arrive.

Best Fried Chicken
1. Gus’s Fried Chicken – This is one “trourist trap” that really isn’t.  The chicken is as good as everyone says it is.  Totally worth the trip and the calories!
2. Jack Pirtle’s Chicken – Sadly, I haven’t tried Jack Pirtle’s.  I’ll try to change that soon.  Liver ‘n’ gizzards, anyone?
3. Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken – This place smells amazing thanks to the Sweet Spicy Love sauce that Uncle Lou’s is famous for.  Darn good fried chicken with or without the sauce.