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

 

 

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

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