Buffalo Wild Wings is a restaurant chain that was created in 1982 by two friends who had moved to Ohio, from Buffalo, N.Y. The enterprising men developed a few wing sauce recipes and the rest is history.
A take-out menu from the restaurant calls them “the most delicious signature sauces known to man,” but that might be an exaggeration.
I’m not dissing the company, mind you. I’m just saying that’s a lofty claim to be making. Having a son who is a wing fanatic, I’ve been privy to some excellent sauces in various restaurants, from local independents to national chains.
My mother, son and I made a trip to the Sherwood Buffalo Wild Wings location on a Saturday afternoon about a month ago. It’s off the access road in Sherwood in a shiny new building with a lot of parking and easy access. Look for the big yellow and black sign with a buffalo on it.
The dining room has booths lining the walls, and plenty of black metal and wooden chairs and tables for a crowd. More than 20 televisions are spread around the walls of the room, but they all have the volume turned down. Instead, diners get to listen to somewhat loud rock music that makes you talk a little louder to be heard. In the back of the building is a room closed off by glass doors. A sign on the door says that no one under 18 is admitted after 9 p.m. I asked a server, who told me it’s like that because it’s mainly a bar back there. There is a selection of video games and more televisions there, too.
We were seated at a table, and it wasn’t long before a server came and took our drink orders. The menu offers a variety of items that are considered traditional sports bar food. We’re not talking James Beard Foundation Award or Michelin star-rated food here. It’s basic, fast and easy finger-type food.
My son got an order of 18 traditional wings ($14.29) in Buffalo, Honey BBQ and Parmesan Garlic flavors. We were told that they can sauce wings in groups of four, so diners have the option of a variety of flavors per order.
I chose the Chicken Tenders & Popcorn Shrimp meal ($12.29) with onion rings (99 cents extra), and an order of eight boneless wings with lemon pepper seasoning sprinkled on ($7.79). Mom, who was cutting back on a variety of foods for health reasons, had a hard time deciding what she wanted, but our server brought out a set of printouts that listed each menu item and the ingredients. It was very helpful and something other restaurants should do. After perusing the lists, she went with an order of six Naked Tenders ($9.29) and a Side Salad ($4.19).
The wings were served in individual little paper dishes. A small container of ranch dressing, much too small for all the wings, came with them. I didn’t eat a wing, but tasted the Parmesan Garlic and barbecue sauces. Both tasted good, but the parmesan version was pale, almost white, and looked a bit off-putting. My son seemed happy though.
My chicken tenders and popcorn shrimp were OK, but not remarkable. But the onion rings were crispy and large, and seemed to be homemade. The boneless wings, which are basically chunks of meat that are breaded and fried, were better than the chicken tenders. The lemon pepper sprinkled on after frying added a nice kick, too.
Mom’s boneless tenders were flavorful, but looked a bit pale and lackluster lying in the paper-lined dish. The $4 salad she ordered with vinaigrette was a good size, and came with the basic ingredients and good croutons.
A second visit seemed to be in order, so my companions and I went back a couple of weeks later. There were only two to three other tables occupied, so we figured that would bode well for good service, and it wasn’t long before a friendly young gal came to the table and took our order.
I wanted to try a burger. There are a variety of selections, like the Black & Bleu Burger and the Big Jack Daddy Burger, or you can build your own by choosing toppings, cheese, sauce and extras (including bacon, chili, pulled pork and sliced steak). I ordered a Beefy Burger ($8.69) with lettuce, red onion, American cheese and bacon, which is 50 cents extra. If I wanted a burger with all the extras, it would weigh in at a hefty $12.19.
Since I was sharing things with my son, I also ordered the Grilled Chicken Buffalitos ($7.89). The menu describes it as two soft flour tortillas with grilled chicken, lettuce, pico de gallo, cheeses, sour cream, and choice of sauce or dry seasoning. We held the pico and added no seasonings. The menu says the item comes with chips and salsa, but we’ll discuss that later.
Mom wanted a burger so she ordered the Beefy Burger, minus the bun. Not too inspiring, but she was pleased.
The food arrived quickly, but I was a bit taken aback when I saw that the Buffalitos had fries on the plate. I asked the server about the fact that the menu says they comes with chips and salsa. Her response was that the menu is the corporate version, but this location chooses to serve Buffalitos with fries. The fries were fresh, crisp and tasty, but it seems to me that the restaurant should have menus that accurately reflect its offerings.
I don’t know what I was expecting when I ordered the Buffalitos, but it wasn’t what came to the table. The dish contained two small flour tortillas filled with too-perfect little squares of grilled chicken, tomatoes and lettuce. The sour cream and cheese were almost nonexistent. They were edible, but just not as flavorful as I had hoped.
The burger was also a bit of a disappointment. Instead of the bacon I wanted, I got tomato, which I had not ordered. I called it to the server’s attention. She came back a couple of minutes later with two strips of that precooked bacon you see in boxes in grocery stores. It was piping hot after being microwaved, I assume, and was thin and rather flavorless. There were two pitiful rings of onion on the burger, which, it appeared, was not hand-patted. Overall, it was a somewhat bland, dense patty that left my son and me a bit disappointed.
Since it was 60-cent-wing Tuesday, my son ordered 10 wings in Caribbean Jerk and Hot flavors. We didn’t notice that you have to pay extra for ranch dressing and the carrots and celery that you get when you order the regular-priced wings on the menu. He enjoyed the wings, although both were way too spicy for me.
There are other specials, so check out the website menu. And for those who like a beer or cocktail, Buffalo Wild Wings has an extensive beverage menu.
Buffalo Wild Wings Address: 4600 Silver Creek Drive, Sherwood (with other locations in Arkansas) Hours: 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Cuisine: Chicken wings, burgers, salads and wraps Alcohol: Yes Wheelchair accessible: Yes Carryout: Yes (501) 819-0192 buffalowildwings.com
Weekend, Pages 38 on 04/04/2013
Print Headline: Buffalo has mixed menu, but wings are the thing