I had Buffalo Wild Wings for the fourth time this weekend (five times if you count the disgusting leftovers I just had). I’ve eaten at the new one in Warrington three times and at one in God-knows-where Texas, all this year. After each visit, I was left wanting to gouge my eyes out with the tiny, cracked, dry chicken bones that remained in my cardboard serving boat.
Buffalo Wild Wings sucks.
It’s almost offensive that a chain that brands itself as a wing place doesn’t have good wings. The chicken sucks. It’s never cooked right. The portions are all over the place (is that a wing, a toe or a hock?). And the sauces have the consistency and subtlety of a dragon’s ejaculate.
I had always wanted to try BWW. They have great commercials, a time-tested concept, and apparently a button that allows you to extend hotly-contested sporting events into overtime. They couldn’t possibly screw up the food… could they?
Here’s the thing: When you go to a restaurant like BWW, you’re not expecting four-star food, or maybe not even three-star food. Good American pub fare will suffice. Hooters does this well. Tilted Kilt pulls it off. Locally, Brick House, PJ Whelihan’s, Champps and Chickie’s and Pete’s get the job done. In fact, despite the somewhat negative perception of C&P (full disclosure: they used to advertise with us), some of their menu items are ++. Their pizza is very good. Their wing sauce is very good. The service is great. And, let’s be honest, their fries are incredible. You typically go to C&P, or any of the other places listed, and have an enjoyable (albeit not remotely healthy) meal. That’s fine.
BWW, on the other hand, can’t even pull off the basics.
The atmosphere is just OK. You would think that with all those (gorgeous) flat screens you’d be pulled into whatever event is on, but that’s simply not the case. The interior – of at least the two I’ve been in – is hollow, devoid of intimacy or atmosphere, and feels more like a bizarro Chuck E. Cheese than a sports bar. It’s half cheap family restaurant, half Hooters, with unqualified waiters and waitresses who look like they were probably turned away from more desirable employment at the local fast-casual restaurant (that’s not a shot at fast-casual– most of those places have GREAT service, and Chipotle, for example, prides itself on hiring great people).
BWW looks cool when you first enter, but the allure quickly wears off once you realize how goddamn low-rent generic it is.
And then, there’s the food.
It’s awful. Shockingly bad. So much so that I excused how bad it was the first two or three times I went, because it couldn’t possibly be that bad, could it?
First trip: In Texas while attending my brother-in-law’s wedding earlier this year. We drove about 12-15 minutes to the local BWW, picked up some boneless wings – in a variety of flavors – and brought them back to the hotel for the out-of-towners as a late-night snack. By the time we ate them, they were lukewarm and dry, and the sauces looked more like stale salad dressing than wing sauces. The guy at the takeout window was incompetent. It took us 40 minutes to get a couple of boxes of boneless wings, at a wing place.
But, I explained away the initial disappointment and attributed the subpar food to the drive from BWW to the hotel.
Second trip: After golf, on a Thursday afternoon, the week the local BWW opened. Food took forever to come out. The waitress let us sample wing sauces that, to my surprise, appeared to be pre-mixed and came out of squirt bottles. Seriously, the ketchup looked more fresh than the Jammin’ Jalepéno sauce.
I was initially downright giddy at all the choices. I mean, look at this:
Here’s the problem: That’s too many for any one of them to actually be great. I suspect that the sheer amount requires sauces to be pre-mixed (or, my guess, pre-packaged). They would be wayyyy better off with six or seven mixed-in-house sauces instead of the more-is-better approach, because I can assure you that more is not only not better, but it actually blows. And just to confuse things, the standard buffalo sauce is actually a rub (rubs on the right), not a sauce. Why, on planet Earth, would you make the most standard wing sauce in the galaxy a rub and not a sauce? They couldn’t come up with another name for the buffalo rub and replace the medium sauce with “buffalo”? This would be like McDonald’s calling their wrap a cheeseburger – “well, it’s cheeseburger flavored but served in a flour tortilla” – and their cheeseburger a sandwich. You’d want to punch Grimace more than you already do if you were presented with this sort of confusion at the Golden Arch. So how does BWW get away with their buffalo sauce being a rub? Am I the only one who is outraged at this? [My pregnant wife nearly broken down into tears and threw a temper tantrum trying to order the buffalo wrap the other night as the takeout guy informed her that their buffalo was a rub and wouldn’t go great in a wrap. WHAT? WHY?!]
But, again, I excused the second experience because it was, like, their third day open. Growing pains.
Third trip: That Saturday night, with my wife. Comedy of errors. BWW was not ready for Saturday night service and the poor manager apologized to, I think, literally every table in our section, handing out free coupons to prevent a total rebellion. The food sucked, the service was worse.
But… yep, first Saturday night. I gave them another pass.
Fourth trip: This Saturday night, also with my wife. No excuses. It sucked. Everything about their food is generic. Perhaps most shocking is how terrible their fries are. It is almost impossible to screw up fries at a place like this. You have to try to screw up fries. It’s like a movie theater screwing up popcorn – no, popcorn is temperamental – soda. It’s like a movie theater screwing up soda. BWW’s fries are brutal. They remind me of Burger King’s fries, only worse … cardboardier, less salt. Even most true fast food joints – Wendy’s – have figured out how to have decent-tasting, authentic-looking fries. I swear to God BWW uses a white-labeled version of Ore-Ida.
In summary, BWW is like the Walmart of sports bar chains– cheap, and palatable to the unwashed masses who wouldn’t know real food (or even quasi-real food) if it kicked them in the taste buds with the hoof of a buffalo, which, if you can believe, DOESN’T HAVE WINGS(!!!). I bet a majority of the mongrels who like BWW actually think buffalos have wings. Well, newsflash, animals: they don’t, and if they did, they’d probably taste better than the rubbery bullshit masquerading as chicken wings that BWW serves you. F this place.