Thursday, September 28, 2006

Chowing Authentic Buffalo Wings

Hooray for another Trip Goal accomplished: I have sucked the meat from a pile of chicken bones drenched in vinegar-rich hot sauce, served to me by the same kitchen that gave birth to the institution today known as the Buffalo Wing.

Frank and Teressa’s Anchor Bar claims to be the home of the original buffalo wing. According to their story, one night Teressa invented the wings for her son’s pals, and before they knew what hit them a phenomenon had swept the nation.

We go at mid-afternoon, after the downtown lunch crowd has finished up and well before the after-work crowd files in for happy hour pints. Our table is adjacent to the stage, which sits shrouded in drop-cloths protecting the instruments. The backdrop, a glimmering curtain that probably looks great at night under targeted colored lights, is delightfully tacky.

The wooden walls of the foyer and bar are plastered with license plates, some of which evoke the name of the venue (ANCRBR from Texas, BUFWNGS from PA). I have never been disappointed by a place that came fairly by its license plates, street signs, road signs, business cards, brassieres, and other miscellany tacked to its walls. Forget about the big chain restaurants, though: they have professionals dig up their swag, and sometimes, like a Hollywood production, they manufacture imitations. I’m talking about real places with real stories. Anchor Bar reeks of authenticity and spilled beer.

Our singular purpose for going is so I can down a plate or two of chicken wings. I have a soft spot for wings, despite my distaste for finger foods. When I was a child, Grandma’s teriyaki chicken feast was a Christmas Eve tradition. My cousin and I could pack those suckers away like nobody’s business. Just imagine two kids, twelve and ten years old, faces gooey with Grandma’s magical sodium-rich sauce, fibers of cheap napkins stuck to our fingertips, dozens of clean bones heaped on plates before us... Ah, the good old days.

The menu arrives in the form of a newspaper. Normal Girl unfolds it, looking for something that isn’t spicy. For me, the only question is temperature: Mild, Medium, Hot, or Suicidal. I’m kind of a wimp, truth be told, and I opt for Medium. To be extra safe, I also order a plate of BBQ wings. It’s too many wings, but when else will I be in Buffalo? (The answer to that question, boys and girls, is never).

More unique wall art: signed photographs of celebrities (mostly B-list, which I respect---you know they’re real) and letters of commendation from the governor, the City of Buffalo, the Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor, etc., declaring various days as Anchor Bar Day, Buffalo Wing Day, etc.

Lunch arrives quickly. Wooden salad bowls, presumably for the bones, rest like lids atop the steaming plates. As expected, celery stalks and blue cheese dressing accompany.

I dive in with both hands. The wings are cooked perfectly: skin crisp and meat tender. The sauce is milder than I expected; I could have easily gone for the Hot and been okay. Some might complain that the wings are tossed in the orange-red sauce rather than saturated, but to me, that's another factor that makes Anchor Bar's wings better than the competition: the sauce does not overpower.

Having expected to be disappointed, instead I lick the sauce from my fingers, somewhat to Normal Girl's dismay. She shakes her head and unfurls a napkin.

I have two minor complaints:

  • The barbecue sauce is too sweet.
  • Wetnaps, please!
When the wings are gone, I eschew the ketchup and sop up the extra sauce from the plate with steak fries (aka Anchor Chips); the sauce is that good.

Overall, I have to give an Unqualified Recommendation to Frank and Teressa’s Anchor Bar. If you find yourself in Buffalo, don’t skip your chance at the original wings. While you're there, buy the sauce; it’s available in gallon jugs from the gift shop if you have space in your suitcase.

Frank and Teressa’s Anchor Bar
1047 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14209
Click here for the map from Yahoo! (Beta Version)

Some related links I enjoyed:

  • According to this link, Anchor Bar is opening franchises; the first will be in Charlotte (NY).
  • Check out this testimonial from someone who went to Buffalo for the sole purpose of eating at the Anchor Bar. Complete with pics of the table scraps.


At 11:15 AM, Blogger Veritas99 said...



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