When you think of classic Western New York, what do you think of? Lucy? The 10,000 Maniacs? The Bills? The Sabres? Well, you’re right (And no, there’s no prize for that… well, if there’s a cookie, I guess you can have it). However, I would say one of the most famous things around is chicken wings. For my money, no other place combines all of Western New York’s faves better than Wing City Grille.
Before we delve into this restaurant review business, let’s see what the restaurant has to say for itself. Upon clicking the link to the Wing City webpage, you’re greeted with this message:
“Since the birth of our company when my father, Steve Carlson, began it all, we have focused on holding true to our “Great Food. Great Fun.” motto and committing ourselves to you, our guests, and your experiences with us. With our family’s 27 years in the restaurant business, we are fully committed to inviting you into our home and allowing our passionate staff, who make it their business to delight each guest, to provide you with a meal of uncompromising freshness and quality. Our entire 18 page menu is made from scratch every single day. We take pride in being able to provide an environment for all ages to gather and join in a great experience together. From the genuine smiles at the front door, to the gracious staff and the homemade meal the kitchen crafts for you, we look forward to giving you a reason to visit us again. The entirety of this restaurant’s success comes from our wonderful customers and an amazing staff. I look forward to seeing you in our restaurants very soon!”
This message is written by Mr. Andrew Carlson, owner of the Lakewood branch of the restaurant. Seeing that a restaurant has a promise like this, it’d better hold up. Let’s walk in, shall we?
Phase 1: The Walk In
With a name like Wing City, you’d expect wings everywhere. And…well… you’d be wrong (Thank you for playing. You’ve been a great contestant. No, there’s no prize…). Wing City is your classic sports bar. From the full bar in the back (Wing City checks all patrons when alcohol is being ordered, so no funny business…), to the 20+ televisions in the establishment (they don’t know the first thing about a concept known as overkill), this place has “sports bar” written all over it (Actually, it has bricks all over it. No writing. I digress.). Wing City even has a small arcade in the front with a couple hunting games for you manly men and rough and tough girlies who enjoy the concept of killing things and then pretending like the food you’re stuffing into your face is the result of that killing (Some people, I tell ya…). I mentioned the televisions before. Yep, over 20 of them. If there’s nothing on that intrigues you… that’s surprising. If all of that visual stimulation isn’t your thing, they do stream some XM radio stations so your body can get the full sensory experience.
Phase 2: Take Your Seat (But don’t steal. Thievery is bad, kids.)
So you’ve taken in the sights, sounds, and smells. Now it’s time to take your seat (again, no stealing!). When you get seated, a few things will pop out at you. Firstly, a lack of 3D glasses (popping out at you? It’s a joke… I’ll stop.). Secondly (and really the meat and potatoes of this section of the review), you’ll notice the table setting. I know, most people don’t go there, but I figure that it’s a ____day (whatever day it is), and I’ve got nothing going on, so we’re going for it. Looking at the table caddy, you’ve got your normal S&P, alongside your suga suga (ain’t that sweet…). However, I think the most important things here are the back of the rack. Ketchup and mustard suggest a barrage of burgers on the menu (Remember this. There’ll be a quiz), and the hot sauce is readily available for all you chili-heads or psychopaths who get a charge out of showering in the burn of a million suns (that got really deep… pardon me!). The rack of naps next to the caddy verifies that yes, ladies and gentlemen, this place does wings (Again, remember this.). Oops… better stop gawking at all the things… your waiter or waitress is ready to take your orders.
Phase 3: Welcome to the Good Burger, Home of the Good Burger. Can I take your ooooorderr?
You’re really comfortable. You’ve got that menu. Your waiter or waitress will be with you shortly. Let’s take a lookie-loo at that menu. The thing weighs a good half of a pound. Yeah. A half of a pound. 18 (yeah, that’s a 1 with an 8 after it.) full pages with nothing but delicious choices. You want chili or French onion soup? Done. Half-pound burger combinations as limited as your imagination? Done. A big, juicy steak with mash and the fixins? Done. I highly doubt any other sports bar around can boast this many flavors of chicken wing sauce (If there is a place, hit me up on the location! PLEASE!!). And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “Cole, I’m a vegetarian” or “Cole, I have celiac disease. How can I do this place if I can’t EAT?!” Easy there, fancy pants… Wing City has about 2 pages devoted to vegetarians and those who have to eat Gluten-free. In my 19 years as a mortal being on this celestial orb we call Earth, this is easily one of the most diverse menus I’ve ever seen.
Now, I know, there is that issue of price. While WCG isn’t the cheapest place on the face of the earth, there are steakhouses and seafood spots that would charge like, 3 times what WCG charges. For example, a lot of the steaks on the menu are in the $20-25 range. Now, imagine that at a big name steakhouse. You’d be running about $75 for 1 person there. For the food you get, these prices are okay.
I know what you’re thinking: “Cole, with all those options, wouldn’t you think that their quality would suffer?” Firstly, you’re asking all of the uber deep questions. I approve of your behavior, sir or madam. Secondly, patience young grasshopper. All in good time.
Phase 4: AT LAST! THE CLOUDS HAVE LIFTED! ANGELS REVEL IN THE GLORY OF THE ALMIGHTY!!
You knew I was talking about the food arriving, right? Anyway… if you couldn’t tell by these pictures, the portions here at the WCG are kinda re-donk-ulous.
That pasta is the Rattlesnake Pasta, a huge portion of chicken and sausage alfredo. The sauce also has bacon and jalapeños in it, and the whole thing was meltified with some fresh mozzarella. I want you to think of the things that may constitute the manliest dish in existence. Sausage? Check. Blackened Chicken? Check. Bacon? Check. Jalapeños? Check. ‘Nuff said. The sandwich is Wing City’s French Dip, packed with fresh sliced beef, grilled onions, mushrooms, and swiss cheese. Okay, I realize that both of these reviews are filled with meat, but this sammich is packed with the beef. They say that nothing goes better with beef than more beef. The French Dip is called a dip because of the beef juice for dips on the side. It accentuates the flavor of the sandwich without overpowering the actual beef. And yes, those chips (crisps for our British friend-os) are house made. Crunchy and not too salty. That big salad? That’s a side salad (You know, a salad… served on the side…). The salad is perfect for a side dish: varied enough with your choice of greens and flavor boosters (like tomatoes, cheese, and croutons) without being a flavor booster salad with a side of lettuce. Their dressing selection (although I did forget to nab a picture of it) is just about as varied as their wing sauces. For these food items and more, only the invention and patent of smell-o-vision could even bring you close to relishing in the awesome (that and uh…y’know… going to the restaurant…).
I know what you’re thinking: “Cole, why is there a picture of two glasses of iced tea in the food section?” Again, good for you about asking the deep questions. Secondly, there are those places that like giving you a refill on your beverage (unsweetened iced tea for me, thanks) as soon as you take one sip of your first drink. Instead of being overwhelmed in a deluge of tea and sugar, WCG actually pays attention to when you need a refill (fascinating concept, innit?).
Phase 5: Rapid-Fire Easter Eggs
I’m hoping that my commentary has piqued your interest of this place. Few places, I believe, can deliver with a menu like that and still call themselves a sports bar. If, however, your thought of a place with 20+ TVs, an 18 page menu, and a crackling environment isn’t your style, firstly, shame on you. Secondly, maybe something on this list’ll perk those ears up.
Trivia Night: Yeah, that’s right. With those 20+ televisions, Wing City’ll bring in this trivia company that puts on trivia competitions. Your table competes with the other tables for prizes and bragging rights (honestly, the bragging rights are the most important part… but that comes from a trivia guy like myself…).
Karaoke Night: See above. Only replace trivia competitions with off-key, slightly* drunken performances of “Achy Breaky Heart” or “We Can’t Stop.” Did I mention before to enjoy your liquor responsibly?
Sports Sundays: I mean, come on… Sports is what this place is about! If you ever want a show, whether it’s with your favorite football team or just to people watch, Sunday Lunch at Wing City is the epitome of fun.
We Hear It’s Your Birthday!!: You know how every place seems to have that gimmick-y performance of “Happy Birthday” that isn’t really “Happy Birthday” because there’d have to be some unnecessary royalties paid or something? WCG does it. And they give you a free Ice Cream Lasagna. There’s a picture up above of the behemoth dessert. That’s all.
Student Discount: Did I hear that right? Yep. That magical piece of plastic you have in your possession called your Student ID can get you a discount at the WCG. Magic Bananas!
Phase 6: FINAL THOUGHTS!
Remember that promise that Mr. Carlson made to his guests? Well, let’s run it through the newly-patented (see also: just made up) Cole Garifi Checklist of Culinary Awesome:
“…we have focused on holding true to our “Great Food. Great Fun.” motto and committing ourselves to you, our guests, and your experiences with us.” Check.
“…we are fully committed to inviting you into our home and allowing our passionate staff, who make it their business to delight each guest, to provide you with a meal of uncompromising freshness and quality.” Check.
“We take pride in being able to provide an environment for all ages to gather and join in a great experience together.” Check.
Now, I know that I can’t make you go to a place and like it. But I hope that with this review, as well as the others you’re gonna see from me, you’ll open that mind of yours to blast off to Flavor Town!