Take flight

A to-go order of six “original hot” and six “bourbon whiskey” chicken wings from Wild West Wing.

A to-go order of six “original hot” and six “bourbon whiskey” chicken wings from Wild West Wing.

Photo/Allison Young

For more information, visit renowildwestwing.com.

There’s nothing better than discovering yummy grub that fits the family budget. Then there are those times when you wish you had made a different choice, and unfortunately, this was my experience at Wild West Wing.

Having spent the previous week under the weather, I was eager for something other than chicken soup. We ordered our food to go, not wanting to share my coughing fits with other diners. This wing shop is operated by the same folks behind an adjacent sushi bar. In fact, there’s a passageway leading between the businesses and they share a common kitchen. The sushi place had a decent crowd for a weekday evening, but my wife and I were the only people waiting for wings at 7 p.m. in a room with seating for perhaps 50. After a 30-minute wait, we received our order and headed home.

The number of sauces included with an order of wings increases with quantity, so we chose an 18-piece combo in order to try three of the 16 varieties ($18.49). The wings themselves were about medium-sized and fried sans coating—a good thing—but they were overcooked and pretty dry. Once a chicken wing has hit the point of no return, no amount of sauce is going to help.

The hot wing sauce was indeed hot, and that’s about all I can say. Not much else going on. The garlic barbecue wings were sticky-sweet and reminded me of garlic chicken dishes sold in fast service Chinese joints. Actually not bad, but nothing about it said “barbecue.”

The last six wings were drenched in enough “whiskey bourbon” sauce to cover three or four times as many morsels. Unfortunately, the sauce was a serious letdown. From the color and extremely sweet flavor, I’d guess ketchup and molasses as the primary ingredients. There wasn’t any tang or spice, just tons of sweet and maybe a remote hint of bourbon (hard to tell among all the sugar).

Having ordered a wing combo, we selected coleslaw as our side (increasing the price by $2.50). What we received was a very small cup of shredded cabbage and thin-sliced cucumber, swimming in a nearly flavor-free dressing reminiscent of skim milk. We didn’t finish it.

Wanting to try more than just wings, we ordered a cheeseburger ($9.95) and “nacho libre” ($9.99). Rather than fries, I chose whiskey bourbon beans as the burger’s side, and this is where things got really weird. Roughly two tablespoons of beans were in the bottom of the cup, which seems a pretty pale substitute for an order of fries.

The beans themselves were overworked and mushy with a flavor that’s hard to describe. You could definitely taste the whiskey this time. In fact, it had barely been reduced in the sauce. It’s entirely possible the beans were poured from a can with some bourbon tossed in at the last minute. I appreciate cooking with booze, but you’re not supposed to get a buzz off the sauce.

When I opened the carton and saw the burger I was actually shocked. About the size of a McDonald’s double quarter pounder, the limp lettuce and mushy tomato were removed after the first couple of bites. The wrong cheese was included, and there was a general lack of requested condiments. The patties had the overcooked consistency of convenience store cuisine. Combined with that smattering of beans, this was the worst $10 I’ve spent on food in quite a while.

My wife enjoyed the nachos—me, not so much. The menu description sounded pretty good, but missing from the actual dish was pico de gallo, chili beans, pulled pork and celery bits. Instead of shreds there were big chunks of salad lettuce mixed with nacho cheese sauce, jalapenos and chopped barbecue chicken strips. I’m glad my wife liked it, but for me it was the second worst $10 I spent that evening.