Football season is looming. Meaning that it’s time for Jets and Giants fans across the Island to be disappointed by the performance of their respective teams. Also, wing consumption will reach annual highs. Long Beach has so many places that claim to be bars, pubs, restaurants, and other kinds of casual eateries. With each offering a wing of their own it can be daunting to sort through all of them and their claims of superiority.
I’ve had many, many wings and think I have a good tasting system down. I’m only going to consider Buffalo Wings – i.e., “Spicy” wings. None of that teriyaki, Caribbean jerk, sweet & sour, BBQ shenanigans. Sure, we can give some honorable mentions, but Buffalo is the only true flavoring. Baked or fried? Not even a question. Most baked wings are soggy and gross. Deep fried and done right is a work of art. Another component that needs to be considered is the meatiness. If there is too much meat, it tastes more like eating a chicken leg. Too little and its all bone and skin. Of course then, the sauce itself is critical. Is it just painfully spicy or is it hot with good balance?
I’ve been to Sutton Place, I’m tasted Beach House’s offerings. I’ve had a dozen at The Inn. I’ve done Minnesota’s. Billy’s Beach Cafe – been there. And there’s more of course that are even less memorable.
Recently, I had the best wing I’ve ever consumed in Long Beach. I went on a suggestion, and wow, they were right. Where? The low-key John Henry’s on Park Ave.
I ordered John Henry’s plate of Buffalo wings, hot of course, and was served a heaping plater of goodness, with all the sides one could want (carrots, celery, blue cheese). The wing – perfectly fried crispy without being dry and tough. The sauce – spicy without being overwhelming. The wing, meaty for sure, some may think a little too meaty, but I believe it to be the perfect balance. Through and through a perfect wing experience. Afterwards, no feeling of severe grease overload death.
I was a skeptic. I didn’t believe this understated pub would have such a strong wing offering. I scoffed. Well, like me, try this and then comment. Yes, many will protest and say that _______ has a better wing. Eat John Henry’s wing and explain why ______ has a better one. I’ve probably already had that one and considered it. If you offer up a place with a better wing, I will of course be obligated to try it – I’d consider it my duty.
And just for fun, I’m going to include a recipe if you want to make wings at home that I’ve had great results with. Yes, these are baked, but technically “oven-fried.” Try them at your own peril because you’ll soon be hooked.
Let the wing throwdown begin.