The Hot Take
Please take this score with a grain of salt because the conditions were super unfair for reviewing.
*Warning: This week’s column does contain one word considered offensive, and may contain links to sites with coarse language.*
The holiday season is sweeping the nation, and just in time for (US) Thanksgiving Mudville 9 was hosting “Wingsgiving,” a benefit event for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Fifteen percent of all wing sales were donated, alongside a raffle, t-shirts, and many other things. It feels a little unscrupulous to wreview a charity event, or even a venue in the midst of hosting one, but this week we’re kinda sorta doing both, and I want to say a couple things up front. First off, prostate cancer is something that has affected my family, and though it does smack a bit of personal bias, I do my best to support foundations which fight to prevent and cure cancer in all its forms. I generally try to keep the language here PG-13, but for real, fuck cancer. Secondly, this wreview is a little unfair. It’s a bit much to go to a venue for a very busy charity event and expect that it’s going to be just a regular day at the office. That said, this wreview will follow my regular criteria, but
I want you guys to really look at the praises and forgive some of the flaws,
because alongside a full kitchen menu the cooks here were churning out HUNDREDS of wings every half hour. Also, given how many uncooked wings were being delivered to the venue at seemingly regular intervals, they likely do not fully reflect the quality of a normal day of service. With that out of the way, let’s get to the wreview of…
Mudville 9’s Wingsgiving
126 Chambers St. (Tribeca)
This week I was joined by WingSquad veteran Benjamin Jones and a first timer James Zhang.
Mudville 9, in some ways, defies categorization, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s part craft house, part sports bar, part restaurant, part… something else I can’t quite put my finger on. Which is to say that it emanates the vibe throughout of an ‘iconic neighborhood joint.’ With ample seating, a bar that runs about 3/4 of its interior length, TVs scattered throughout, it seems like the kind of place that serves just about anybody’s needs. The crowd was exactly the kind of hodgepodge of people one would expect to see at just such a place.
On offer here is what I like to think of as elevated bar food. Nearly every item on the menu has something signature, or handcrafted, or family recipe. They definitely put forth the impression that the food they serve here is unlike any other, if for no other reason than their attention to detail and quality. Also on offer were a huge selection of beers (both draft and bottle) as well as craft cocktails.
I would like to put in a special mention here of an offer I wish we were able to take up, but our numbers were lacking on this trip:
Given the slightly-higher-than-I-would-have-liked prices on food and beer here, this is a deal from which I could definitely get my money’s worth.
The PPW here begins at a kinda high $1.50 for 5, and at 100 only drops to $1.08. While I would like to see a bit more of a price break over that span, it doesn’t seem to be that unusual for this part of the city. As usual, no splitting sauces for large orders.
What We Ordered
I will admit I was a little in my cups by the end here, but I can state with factual accuracy that once we were seated, JZ had started out with a Porterhouse Red Nitro, BJ with a Narragansett Lager, and I was sipping on a high gravity Ommegang Gnomegang.
None of the trio present were especially spicy boys, so we only got five of the “Buffalo Super Wow,” the hottest on the menu. We also got ten each of the “Buffalo Medium” and the “Butterscotch Bourbon & Bacon.”
While everything was clean and presentable when it hit the table, there wasn’t any sort of consistency. Round plate, square plate, it seemed to be whatever was nearest at hand. Celery was tossed on top (which is in no way a deal breaker, I just prefer it on the side.) Each plate included a nice metal ramekin of blue cheese. It all looked like orders of wings, which is kinda why 3/5 exists.
Once again we come to Buffalo wings. JZ found the sauce here to be “fairly standard” and “a bit watery” with “decent heat.” BJ didn’t remark much on the flavor itself but found that they had a “great outer texture.” I don’t know how they make the sauce here. I actually specifically shy away from knowing these things, because by nature I feel like wreviews should reflect the average diner’s experience. This sauce tasted like store-bought imitation “buffalo sauce” as opposed to the traditional Frank’s and butter. It had the right consistency, but a more generic flavor. The heat was exactly medium, and did build nicely with successive wings. If this were a report card for a C+ student, it would read the same: meets expectations. 3/5.
Butterscotch Bourbon & Bacon:
The messiness of this plate is a little deceptive, especially considering the excitement we had for this sauce. Butterscotch, bourbon, and bacon are all great things, but… well I’ll let my friends start here. BJ says it’s a “very sweet, refreshing kind of sauce, great up front but it doesn’t last.” JZ was little harsher, finding it had a “bit of sweetness [but] kind of bland. Not a fan.” If I had it all to do over again, I would order this sauce in a boneless wing, as I feel like it would likely absorb the flavors a little better. I did my best to make sure my wings were slathered in the sauce before I ate them, but it didn’t seem to help them much. While the sauce does have a great nuanced flavor with a signature sweetness, the flavor doesn’t quite seem suited to sticking on this particular kind of food. I wish I could say otherwise, but on wings this sauce is a little underwhelming. 2/5.
Buffalo Super Wow:
‘Professionals only!’ warns the menu. Well, I don’t get paid for this column, so I’m technically not a professional. But I am an extreme enthusiast, and the same can be said for my cohorts. When they were setting the plates at our table, I managed to get a bit of this sauce on my fingertip, and licked it off instinctively. It was a mistake. I’ll try and arrange all of our reactions in contextual order here, with the stopwatch method. 10 seconds: The heat immediately permeates and burns. BJ says “it has a nice buffalo flavor,” while JZ agrees that he “like[s] the flavor.” 1 minute 30 seconds: The burn is hot and still getting hotter. JZ comments that it has a “long burn” while BJ states that he “might enjoy [the flavor] if I could stand the heat.” 3 minutes: The heat finally levels off without subsiding. At this point, sans drink or blue cheese I start trying to tell stories to my friends, but i am being loud and breathing heavily to try and avoid thinking about the heat. “I hate my mouth right now” JZ intimates. “TOO HOT” BJ echoes. Meanwhile my mouth continues at a controlled burn. At 5 minutes 30 seconds, the heat finally begins to subside. It’s still very hot and lingers for quite a bit longer. When it finally dies down I drench the wing in blue cheese and finish it off as to get more of the flavor, which is very good, even better so than the medium. It’s the surprising combination of tasty flavor and sinus-clearing heat that nails the Super Wow at 4/5.
Of the sauces we tasted, it boils down to expectations. While I expected more from the Butterscotch Bourbon & Bacon, it’s not to say that the sauces disappointed in any way. I liked what they had, and i’m eager to try more, but overall sace gets a 3/5 here.
It’s here that I would again refer you to my earlier point, which I made enormous so you would keep it in mind. In case you forgot:
The wings themselves here were fairly mediocre. I’ll spoil it here right now that they get a 3/5. They weren’t terrible and they weren’t great. They were, however, very expedient considering the volume of orders. While some of them did seem a little dry and bland on the inside, it’s so hard to lay blame upon either the venue or event, because they were still pretty decent wings. Please take this score with a grain of salt because the conditions were super unfair for reviewing.
The Hot Take
I like Mudville 9. I really do. The sauces here are tasty and representative of what they advertise. I WILL review this place more fairly in time. In my postmortem, the pictures and online reviews reflect some tasty-ass wings. Unfortunately during this event I feel like quality was understandably a little bit sacrificed. But on this particular visit during this particular event, it fell just this side of my hopes and expectations. The only thing I can find to really complain about is the price vs the quality, but knowing that a chunk of our bill went to charity softens that blow quite a bit. For the price, and on this particular day, for this particular event, the score evens out to a 3/5.
Sauces we didn’t try: Buffalo Mild, Buffalo Wow, Bonelick BBQ, Mango Habanero, Jamaican Jerk, Honey Mustard, and Thai.
Despite the wait we endured, I still thoroughly enjoyed my time here. It was all for a good cause, and it was super comforting to be able to get out of my sad bubble I’d been stuck in and have some good ol’ fashioned socialization.
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.