The Hot Take
“While their wings leave a little something to be desired, that something is small enough that I’m more than willing to overlook any order-to-order flaws.”
Obligatory preface time! I’m not a person with the best of social graces. I’ve always been a pretty big introvert, and since moving to NYC that hasn’t changed much. I have no problem interacting with total strangers, but I have a really hard time bridging the gap that turns strangers into friends. A byproduct of doing this weekly column has been forcing me to get out and interact with people, making new friends and meeting new people, and it’s as weird to me as it is wonderful. I bring this issue up because both I and my co-wreviewers for this week were in no way aware that they were going to be helping me eat chicken wings until they decided to ask me about the piles of wings in front of me. Initially I had a few members of the WingSquad present, but it was late on a Sunday afternoon and they (understandably) had other things to do and I thought I was going to be left to the task alone. Enough about me, let’s get to this weeks wreview of…
1111 Church St, Brooklyn (Prospect Park South)
This week marks the first time I didn’t eat the wings at the venue. I picked up my order and walked back over to the Hinterlands to sit and eat (more on that later.) As I was taking my first bites, the couple at a nearby table asked me about what I was eating, and minutes later I was formally introduced to Brian Cogan and Lisa Bocchini who not only called this neighborhood home, but were more than willing to share their thoughts on a relatively new-to-the-neighborhood spot.
Buffalo’s Famous is not even 5 months old, but has established a rep as THE place to get your staple Western NY foods, like Sahlen’s dogs, beef on weck, the “Famous (we can’t legally use the word garbage) Plate,” and most importantly, Buffalo wings. The inside is new and clean, and (I here admit this isn’t my first trip here) the staff is on point and helpful. I don’t think they serve alcohol, but don’t quote me on that. Their business seems to focus mostly on take-out, and inside there’s only a few counter seats. On this particular visit the counter was full, but I had already planned on walking these back down the street to my open bar tab. In my habit of piggybacking on other social events, Hinterlands was hosting a craft extravaganza to help make decorations for their upcoming Halloween bash, so it was my home base for the afternoon.
I’ve already mentioned a few staples on the menu here (which isn’t large. They do Western NY and not much else.) You can check out the full menu on GrubHub. (Bee tee dubs, I love that soda is listed as “pop.”)
A quick aside, I think that in NYC I’m grading a little hard on the PPW, since things here generally just cost more. I wanted to take a second to explain my grading that the ideal PPW hovers around a starting point of .85 to .95 cents per wing. In most places around the country (that I’ve been to) this is not a high expectation. So far I’ve had a hard time finding places around the city that use this as a starting point, but rather as a bulk price. Since I started with this as a working expectation, I will not reassess, but I will continue to weigh my final score on a ‘bang for your buck’ with the PPW as a guideline.
That out of the way, the PPW here starts at $1.40 for 5, going down to $1.00 for 50. The wings are served with their homemade blue cheese and the usual veggies, extra sauce or dip not included (as per the usual.)
What We Ordered
On this warm October evening, LB and I were both having our share of Brooklyn Lager (have I mentioned before how much I LOVE Brooklyn Lager? Expect it to show up in the future, for sure) while BC was sipping on some Bell’s.
The wings I had toted back to the bar were Buffalo’s Famous’ Medium, X-Hot, and BBQ, five of each.
Given that this was take out, I’m not going to grade super harshly on presentation. That said, each box was clearly labeled, was foil-lined and each contained its own container of blue cheese and vegetables. After the couple block walk back to the bar, they still looked and tasted fresh, and there was only a minimal amount of grease on the outside of the boxes. While cardboard may not be the best thing to package wings in, they survived the trip well. It could have been better packed, but it also could have been far worse. The presentation here passes with an average but good 3/5.
Of the two, I would peg BC as the more ‘hardcore’ wing eater, as he tended to measure the quality in what quantity he would eat a few times. Of the BBQ, he called it a “very nice ‘snacking’ wing. I could probably eat about 30 of these.” LB believed they “were good to begin with, but too sweet” and “not complex enough.” I tend to agree with her here. These wings were very sweet, but not unpleasantly so. They do have BBQ sauces with heat in them, but this sauce without heat seemed to approach cloying. While it coated the wing pretty well, there wasn’t much excess sauce, which is a plus for BBQ wings in my column, as they tend to be the stickiest mess and the one that uses the most napkins. That said, the sauce gave the wings a nice crunch and an even flavor profile, landing them a safe 3/5.
When it came to the mediums, BC’s opinion was that they were “moist, messy, and a true medium…which is rare.” LB found them to have “more of a kick than the [x-hot],” and “super moist.”
I’m full of asides this week, and I promise this is the last one, but here goes: When you say “Buffalo wing” in an authentic way, it adds up to three words: Frank’s and butter. That said, I feel like the flavor not only hit the nail on the head, but knocked it straight through the board. By which I mean it tasted damn good. The heat, for me, left something to be desired, but it still coated my tongue and lingered pleasantly for a bit. Despite the slightly unimpressive heat, the authenticity of flavor and agreeable messiness while chomping makes these bad boys a 4/5.
As already mentioned above, these wings did not deliver on their heat promise. While I don’t have a direct quote, BC mentioned these again in a quantitative context, saying he could probably sit down and eat twenty or thirty of these without noticing, adding that he “expected more [heat], but a lot like the medium.” LB, to reiterate, actually thought they were less spicy than the medium. I found them to have more of a heat flavor than actual heat. Where the medium coated my tongue, I found these to have that very hot pepper quality of hitting my whole mouth at once, but without the fire that I was expecting. Again, the flavor here was great, but it broke its heat promise entirely, leaving it trailing at a disappointing 2/5.
Blue Cheese: Yes, this is unorthodox, but I feel it deserves mentioning here, especially considering that in their social media they tout that they don’t have ranch dressing. The house blue cheese is delicious, but tastes a lot like somebody added blue cheese chunks to ranch dressing. I don’t mean this in a bad way, as somebody who loves both I thought it was super good and worth mentioning.
The sauces here tasted great, and you can tell they put some work into them. I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt that the batch of X-Hot sauce for some reason or another just didn’t have the heat it normally does. I will definitely be back to try some of the spicy BBQ and give the X-Hot another shot, but until I do I can’t in good conscience give the overall sauce anything above a 3/5.
This place does their wings in what I consider the correct way, meaning they’re fried, sauced, and finished on the grill. Outside of the BBQ the skin didn’t have much crunch, but I’m more than OK with that, since I like a juicy skin as much as a crunchy one. This skin peeled off easily and packed a lot of flavor. Underneath was a juicy and meaty wing that maintained its moisture and flavor. While not quite fall-off-the-bone, it was nothing but pleasant to strip these flap-bones of their tender muscles. For a well-cooked wing done my most favoritest of ways, these wings jump the fence at a healthy 4/5.
The Hot Take
I’m going to eat these again, and not only because they are super close to one of my favorite bars. The overall quality here is enough to give a pass to the disappointing heat of their hottest wing and give them another shot. As a native of upstate NY, this place offers me a lot of the guilty pleasures I can’t find elsewhere. While their wings leave a little something to be desired, that something is small enough that I’m more than willing to overlook any order-to-order flaws. The PPW is fair for what you get, even though I wish it were just a tad lower. Don’t be surprised if you see Buffalo’s Famous getting a second chance in the future, because despite my misgivings they’ve got a good thing going with a very strong 3/5.
Sauces we didn’t try: Mild, Hot, BBQ Mild, BBQ Medium, BBQ Hot. I heard through the grapevine that they recently lost their head chef, which may have contributed to some of my grievances, but I haven’t confirmed this piece of info in any way.
While he did make a passing reference to having written at least one book, I have since learned that Brian Cogan is a pretty well-regarded author of some punk and pop-culture books. I also found out that Lisa Bocchini is an artist in her own right, doing some really amazing photography with vintage Polaroid cameras. (I googled you guys, sorry!) While I came to find Hinterlands through Stuart Wellington and MaxFun, it turns out that Lisa and Brian both are long-time friends of Sharlene, Stuart’s wife and co-owner of the bar. It was incredibly pleasant and cool to expand my friend group outside the people I’ve met through MaxFun related things, and I look forward to sharing some more drinks and conversation with them again.
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.