Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar is not for the meek. It is for the virile, the macho, the utterly heterosexual masculine. Everything about it screams manliness. It reaches levels of testosterone even Jason Giambi could not handle.
Buffalo Wild Wings is a chain of sports bar and grills started by — no surprises here — two men in 1982, craving good wings after moving from Buffalo, N.Y., to Ohio. Walking into the New Haven branch, which opened last June on Church Street, you cannot look in any direction without seeing flat-screen TVs. On the wall above the massive bar, one TV spreads across four enormous panels in between neon signs advertising beer. Basketball, baseball, football and Ultimate Fighting Championship illuminate the dark interior, broadcast to you through localized wireless sound boxes at each table. A soundtrack thumps to AC/DC. One of my suitemates begins wondering when the half-naked cheerleaders will appear.
If the atmosphere does not sufficiently pump you up, the menu will. “Holy shit, we should have fasted,” said Ahmed Abdullah ’11 upon opening it. Everything on the menu, the extensive list of beers no exception, galvanizes your taste buds, as if shouting to them through a megaphone: Are you ready for this? In this culinary death match, wings, wraps, ribs and burgers will “battl[e] for your taste buds.” Cocktails and beer will “vi[e] for your thirst.” The goal: “victory over hunger.”
And the greasy, above-average food — when it finally came after about an hour — did just that. Along with bar-side standards such as nachos, mozzarella sticks, popcorn shrimp and baby-back ribs, the menu boasts “Cheeseburger Slammers,” a plate of three small burgers for $8.29, which were everything desired: mouth-wateringly tender meat on warm, soft buns, with cheddar cheese, lettuce, onions and tomato, surrounded by a heap of “buffalo chips,” thickly cut potato chip–style french fries.
And the wings were exceptional. Tender and juicy on the inside but crispy on the outside, the wings, available both as boneless and normal, are probably the best in New Haven.
Like a primordial human-beast, you won’t just eat the wings, you will attack them voraciously, slathering sauce on your face like blood after a successful hunt, as you strip the meat down to the chalky bones underneath. Then you will toss what is left into your “bone graveyard” (as my waiter called it) in front of you, before falling comatose from deep-fried deliciousness.
Plates of wings can be divided among multiple sauces, which come in fourteen varieties — ranging from the “smilin’ ” to the “screamin’ ” — and are sold by the bottle. The honey barbecue sauce was tangy and sweet, causing some serious finger-licking. “Asian zing” with ginger and hot pepper was exciting. The jerk sauce was spicy and aromatic. These first three were simple and not overpowering. But despite the warnings of our jovial, honest waiter, nothing could prepare us for the last sauce, “blazin’.”
The menu cautions the eater: “Keep away from eyes, pets, children.” And Buffalo Wild Wings is not joking. This sauce will completely overturn any prior conception you have of what it is to sense spicy. Ruddy, and thickly coating the chicken wings like a mole, it boldly taunts you to try it. But one whiff of the potent paste will asphyxiate you with its acridity. One taste, and it will singe your mouth and annihilate your taste buds, causing you to gasp for air (and water) as you grope for capsaicin-free earth amid a fiery-sauce hell. After knocking you out, it lingers in your mouth for what seems like forever as if to say: Try me again and I will smite you.
This sauce did not even taste good. But that is not why you eat it. Consuming it is a task of Herculean proportions, allowing you to flaunt your manhood with vigor. It is for the cocky, for those who like getting pummeled into the dirt by a 300-pound linebacker, just so they can get back up, look you in the face and say: no pain, no gain.
But the only gains here are to your wallet. In fact, for $0.40 each on Wing Tuesdays, $0.50 for boneless on Thursdays, the wings here are one of the best cheap eats in New Haven, not to mention the intoxicatingly inexpensive $1 draughts on Wednesdays. They even have such rarities as Blue Moon and Widmer Hefeweizen.
New Haven has found a new place to watch the game and get good, cheap food and ales. Buffalo Wild Wings is a hell of a time. Are you man enough to take it on?