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Operation Chicken Wing; The Recap

A recap of our chicken wing saga and a hint of things to come.

I ate a lot of chicken wings over the last two months. We hit some bumps along the way, but overall had a great experience at the restaurants we went to. There are a ton of places that do wings, and we chose venues by group vote. The pick usually won by a vote or two, it was close every time.

We rated  five categories ( presentation, preparation, meat taste & texture, sauce, and overall experience) on a 1-10 scale (half points acceptable). The lowest possible total was 5, with 50 being the highest. All of our reviews scored in the top 50%, and all of them earned at least one 10. They’re fairly close in points as well.
Here’s a recap of the total scores.

Howling Wolf- 38.8

Sidelines- 38.9

Salem Beer Works- 45.5

The Old Spot- 36.0

Finz- 39.0

Engine House- 40.25

O’Neill’s- 41.04

This isn’t a “best of” list, and there is no “winner” (except us, for eating so much yummy!). Every place had it’s high and low points. Some of the highlights were the large number of sauce choices at Sidelines (14 of them), the excellent blue cheese dressing at Old Spot, the lovely plating at O’Neill’s (it’s true, we were all enamored of the orange slice), the comfy couches at Finz, and the friendly service at almost every place we went.

It wasn‘t all sunshine and rainbows. Despite being the only place to score a 50 (three, actually), Beer Works garnered the harshest criticism for the atmosphere (the new décor is a big old fail, sorry guys). The Old Spot may not have been our favorite wings, but their Ploughman’s Lunch is as delightful as ever, and with an excellent beer selection, and cozy atmosphere there’s no reason not to go.

We had a few surprises. I wasn’t expecting much from a sports bar, but Sidelines had a better family restaurant vibe than most of the major chains. O’Neill’s had the quickest service, which was a shock. Don’t get me wrong, I love O’Neill’s but let’s be honest, they’ve never been known for speedy food service. Finz had always scared me a little as being too fancy but it was very welcoming and not at all stuck up.

One thing I can say for certain is I had no idea something as simple as chicken wings could have such a wide variety. Spicy, sweet, vinegary, smoky, tangy, plain, barbeque, Asian inspired, garlicky and every combination therein. I dare you not to find one you like.

We’ll be putting aside our “foodie” caps for a few weeks to decide on our summer food choice. Lobster rolls have a number of vocal proponents, but so do steak tips and fried clams/fisherman’s platters. We shall see who comes out on top. I am not adverse to bribes.

As always, if you’re interested in joining our merry band of diners email palfray10@gmail.com

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William Legault April 20, 2012 at 08:33 PM
This was a fun group. We all had a great time meeting, chatting, and eating wings all over town. I am looking forward to doing it again this summer. When we do we will be sure to hit a few of the places that are located outside of the downtown also. We are seeking suggestions from those of you who have a favorite food and a favorite eatery.
KlassySalem April 20, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Interesting. I find the remodeled Beerworks to be much more pleasant.
William Legault April 20, 2012 at 11:06 PM
The group as a whole did not like the new decor. The wings however, were outstanding.
Jared Robinson April 25, 2012 at 05:56 PM
it's considerably more quiet now that the kitchen is closed. I certainly find it much more pleasant than the old setup.
Josh Turiel April 25, 2012 at 07:06 PM
I'm really mixed on it. I like that it's quieter, and I don't miss the pool table. I don't like the new bar as much, and it's a little industrial for my taste. But on the other hand, as Bill says, the wings were outstanding!

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