When it comes to wings, I have done my best to never back down from a challenge. While out on the monthly bar crawl, Jeremy Frank sent an image to the Wing Squad, with a location declaring the most dangerous four words you can tell an amateur internet chicken wing blogger who is too full of himself and thinks too highly of their own opinions: BEST WINGS IN TOWN. One part hubris, one part challenge, and one part potential reward, I circled the wagons and headed out to Queens for this week’s wreview of…
Twist and Smash’d Sports
34-02 Steinway Street (Astoria)
I knew that bringing the wreview to Astoria would inevitably draw out Vicki Crosson, and I managed to twist the collective arms of Meghan Griffin and James Zhang to come along for the ride, both of whom at this point have at the very least earned their “WingSquad Wings™.”
Twist and Smash’d (from here on out T&S’d) was originally born out of a desire to sell some cool twisted potatoes and smashed burgers, and has since expanded to a location where they have tons of taps and tables, an indoor bocce court, and plenty of TVs to serve as a go-to spot for watching the sporting event of your choice. The interior is fairly large, especially considering that it’s in NYC, and I would daresay it felt a bit cavernous. While the bar is ringed with over a dozen TVs and the bocce court was filled with lots of people having fun, the rest of the restaurant felt a bit bare in comparison. The overall vibe was very familiar to me, and I can only describe it as having the feeling of a chain restaurant in a small town that attracts both a college crowd and a severely local one. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a wildly specific thing.
Of course the most featured item on their menu is the twisted potato, which is basically a skewered spiral cut potato seasoned and cooked and from what I’ve seen of the reviews people seem to love it (we did not get it on this visit, but I might go back for it, it looked tasty.) Second is their burgers, all of which ostensibly come on a bun that has had their logo toasted directly onto the bun. Other bar fare is on offer, including mac and cheese and nachos, some salads, even a steak is in the mix. They definitely lean more on being a restaurant than a bar.
PPW is pretty standard for mid-range NYC wing joints, starting at $1.33 for 6 wings and dropping to roughly 87 cents for 80.
What We Ordered
I was running a crappy amount of late due to both poor planning and train traffic, so my cohorts ordered some fried pickles while they waited for me, and they arrived a couple minutes after I got there. They were pretty darn tasty. But for wings, which is what we’re all here to hear about, we got the sampler that consists of eight wings each of four different flavors. Our flavors were Spicy Buffalo (duh,) Thai Sweet Chili, Lemon Pepper, and Fusion.
Returned are the ubiquitous red plastic baskets with wax paper and a stack of wings inside. Each variety was served with exactly three celery sticks and a plastic ramekin of blue cheese by default, even though this place offers different dips that may have been better suited to different wings. We weren’t given much in the way of napkins, nor any wetnaps at all, and no clear place for the bones except for our tiny app plates. The wings themselves looked pretty tasty, but that’s about the best thing I can say about the presentation. 2/5
Thai Sweet Chili:
JZ, who has at times been one of our harsher critics, said that these were “slightly sweet, not spicy” and “not [a] strong flavor.” While he said he “didn’t like it at first, [it] grew on me.” VC agreed with the first two sentiments, also adding “uninteresting” to the list. The best thing I can say about this flavor is that it did a decent job of tasting like sweet chili, but it was kind of a sweet mess without much to add, and literally none of the chili kick one would expect. It’s decent at best, but I wouldn’t run back for more, which I guess is why we have a 2/5.
MG was the first to dip into this dry rub, saying that it had a “great crisp and lemon flavor throughout.” VC agreed that there was a “clean lemony taste. Unfortunately the lemon wasn’t evenly distributed across the wing.” It seemed to all of us that MG got the prime wing of the bunch, as the rest of these seemed to be more pepper than lemon overall. It wasn’t until I tried a second one of these that I got any lemon flavor. Like any dry rub, it helped keep the skin crispy and the chicken juicy, but the lack of coverage and consistency and the just OK flavor drops these to a 2/5.
VC had her hopes up a bit for the Fusion, “they looked really nice, with the toasted sesame seeds on top.” The reality ended up being a tad different, with MG tasting them and was “uncertain what flavor it should be” and JZ putting them on the range of “meh to OK.” There really wasn’t much flavor to these at all, and what was there I could only peg as `maybe sesame?’ What it was intended to be a fusion of I have no idea, but what it came out as was a fusion of ‘Asian?’ and ‘generic.’ 2/5
I’ll skip the quotes here since they are fairly redundant and are more-or-less in agreement. These had a nice salty and sorta-spicy up front kick, but never got any hotter than what I would chalk up as a notch or two below medium heat. There wasn’t really anything great about these, but nothing too bad either. In JZ’s words: “It’s Buffalo alright.” 3/5
While the Spicy Buffalo was OK, a lack of imagination, flavor, and in some places even the lack of sauce on these wings doesn’t conjure any reason for me to give them anything better than a 2/5 for the sauce overall.
I’m actually on board with the wings they used here. The were middling in size, but they were cooked with competency, the skin had the capability of attaining a crunch while the meat remained moist and tasty inside. They didn’t seem to absorb much flavor from the sauce (with the exception of the dry rub) but tasted well enough on their own. The only thing I can really find at fault with them was the drumette to flat ratio, which was about 70/30, and as I’ve made clear a few times before I’m a flats guy all the way. It was a very middle of the road wing overall, which always goes the way of a 3/5.
The Hot Take
T&S’d seems to have cultivated a brand around their burgers and potatoes, and while I may go back there again to check them out, I probably won’t be getting the wings. It’s a decent enough wing at a decent enough price, but their sauces, their presentation, and really the whole package was just unimpressive. Have I become jaded by all the wings I’ve eaten in the last five months? I really suspect this sometimes, but my co-wreviewers seemed to be just as unimpressed as I was. They aren’t serving a bad wing, but for an establishment touting their wings as the best in town, I really wish they had at least come to play instead of just showing up to the game. The Hot Take here is a 2/5.
Not a whole lot to add this week, except i would like to admit that I yanked the images for the exterior from Google streetview (My apologies to Vicki who I had asked to get some additional shots for me that I didn’t use.) I also want to put two calls to action here.
Do you have your own ideas about something we should be covering on Maxfun.nyc? More importantly, would you like to write about something you love, something you do, or anything else you can stretch to fit into the umbrella of something you would like to see more of on this site? We would all love to see more stuff on here, and if you have any ideas you can send them directly to Jeremy@maxfun.nyc, because he’s a really cool guy and he’s brought this whole thing into being and I love watching it grow and thrive.
Secondly, and I know it’s already at the bottom of every wreview, but I wanted to put it up her in bigger font: if you want to be part of the WingSquad, the elite group of members who get to run around the city and eat chicken wings with me, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook and let me know, I’m always happy to have more carnivores (and occasional herbivores for some veggie wings) on board.
As always, the Weekly Wing Wreview and MaxFun.nyc are not affiliated with Maximum Fun or its associated products or brands. But we’re pretty big fans.