Thursday, August 28, 2008

Buffalo Wild Wings

Restaurant: Buffalo Wild Wings
Address: 205 North 76th Street - Between Chuck E Cheese and Toys R Us
Website: (Warning, flashriffic)
Genres: Buffalo wings, American
Check Constraints: None.
Chain: Yes | More Omaha Locations: Yes

  • 10 Wild Boneless Wings ($6)
  • 10 Spicy Garlic Boneless Wings ($6)
  • Basket of Buffalo Chips with Cheese ($4.59)
  • Drink ($2.19)
Work is slowly returning to normal levels, but we were ready for a little bit of a rest, so we went somewhere safe for the week. It was kind of a homecoming for us, since Buffalo Wild Wings is what helped us start this blog in the first place. That doesn't make much sense at first, I'll admit. It's hardly a restaurant that screams "Omaha". But if you'll give me a moment, I'll explain.

In the before-times, in the Long Long Ago... I hadn't even moved to Omaha yet. MapleSyrup and I were still living in Indianapolis, working at a horrible job that had one large perk - an extra-long Thursday lunch. A great deal of the time, the lunch destination of choice for the office was the downtown Indianapolis Buffalo Wild Wings (or BW3s, if you're cool). That preference possibly even dates back to most of us in the office having gone to college in a town where one existed, but that's reaching back a little too far for comfort. When I moved to Omaha, it turned out my new job had a similar informal lunch policy, and so Thursday Lunch continued. For a year or so. With most of those Thursdays being spent at a BW3s. So you can imagine that we were all really rather sick of it.

I can't remember which of us proposed we first start eating around at other restaurants in Omaha, but we were all very ready for the idea. That decision led pretty directly to the decision to start up first a Google Map and then a blog about where we were eating. So it's not a large stretch to claim that BW3s is the reason we're doing this at all, and thus last Thursday's lunch should have been a triumphant homecoming.

Unfortunately it just reminded me why we wanted to branch out in the first place. First off, the prices at BW3s are just this side of ridiculous unless you go on a day they're running specials (Tuesdays for 35c regular wings, Thursdays for 60c boneless wings) and even the specials are more than some places have wings for normally. Secondly, the boneless wings here are always far too dry. There's no flavor of the sauce and to be perfectly honest that's the only reason to get the things because the breading's not that good and it drowns out any chicken flavor. That may only be a problem at this location, though, which leads me to point three.

The biggest problem I have with large chain restaurants is that their ostensible purpose - in fact, the whole reason places like McDonald's have page upon page of food documentation - is to deliver the same food in multiple places. Unfortunately that's so hard to do it's nearly impossible. BW3s suffers from this in a large degree - since most of their food is made in batches and then the sauce is added, you can wind up in a situation where not only did your order get overcooked and undersauced, but so did everyone else at the table's.

To be fair, there's some delicious to be had here or I wouldn't have kept coming back as long as I did, even considering the inertia. The chicken tenders are the best item on the menu, as they just come with a cup of sauce (and extras are only 60c, so you can mix and match flavors) which allows you to control your own sauce application. They're also the most consistently cooked item, in my experience. They're even one of the "value menu" lunches so you can get some potatoes of your choice and a drink for a reasonable amount. Their sauces are also good. I'm sure they're horrible for me, but even the Wild sauce has a good amount of flavor paired with the heat. Blazin' is just a stupid level of heat and there's no point to it unless you're trying to display your huevos for all those people in the restaurant to not care about.

My verdict on this place is Would Eat Again, as a safe destination for business lunches when I'm not sure my colleagues are going to be into, say, baba ghanouj.

  • 10 Spicy Garlic Boneless Wings ($6)
  • 10 Honey BBQ Boneless Wings ($6)
  • 10 Garlic Parmesan Boneless Wings ($6)
  • Basket of Buffalo Chips with Cheese ($4.59)
  • Drink ($2.19)
The really sad part about that list of food is that it wasn't all that much actual food. Back when we were doing this place every week, I could do a basket of Spicy Garlic and be okay. My capsaicin muscles have not been working out, unfortunately, and I am no longer able to do so, not even with ranch.

On the other hand, the honey barbeque and the garlic parmesan are just as good as I remembered them. They have a bit of lingering heat to them, which is fine with me. The honey barbeque is not as good as someone blending it at home, really, but it's damn good for a mass produced sauce. The garlic parmesan, though, is really great stuff. I've never had anything quite like it anywhere else, not even at home. It's actually kind of hard to describe, it's almost like they took a caesar salad dressing and then added a bunch of parmesan and hot pepper, only it's not at all tangy. The flavor is pretty much all parmesan, garlic, and hot.

Other than that, I really don't have a hell of a lot to say. I wasn't part of the group Cham was talking about, having gone to school in merry old fatass-ville, where you can get anything at all delivered right to your door. I'm afraid that having eaten at so many other places now, this one doesn't seem so appealing anymore. Except that garlic parmesan sauce. I might have to go buy me a bottle or three.

  • 6 Honey Barbecue Boneless Wings ($3.60)
  • 6 Cajun Jerk Boneless Wings ($3.60)
  • Regular Wedges with Cheese ($?)
  • Drink ($2.19)
I wanted to have this on the blog mostly to show our roots, and Cham has done a fine job of it. We actually started on Wednesday 50c Leg day, but they dropped that long ago. We switched to Thursday when that happened. This revisit went a little better than a previous revisit, I think. Quality of food items varies from visit to visit as Cham had mentioned.

I agree that the boneless are on the dry side. You may be able to get that extra sauce Cham mentioned for these as well, but nobody here has tried. Honey Barbecue is a good, flavorful sauce with what I think is just the right amount of heat to it. The Cajun Jerk is on the upper end of my heat tollerance/bravery. I think it has decent flavor to it as well, but a few boneless with that starts to make me sweat. They have two shapes of potatoes. I tend to favor the wedges while the other guys get chips. I don't think there's much difference. You can get cheese on either for a little extra.

  • 12 Honey Barbecue Boneless Wings ($6.00)
  • Regular Wedges with Cheese ($?)
  • Drink ($2.19)
Actually, the whole BW3's thing at our old company started before the company even moved to Indianapolis. Through some happenstance while we were still in Terre Haute, it became weekly ritual to head to BW3's on Thursdays for their 60c chicken tenders special (this was where we found out one of our coworkers was deathly disgusted by ranch dressing and its ilk and would rather be lowered into a vat of human waste than a vat of ranch). This carried over when we moved to Indianapolis as a general Thursday company lunch policy, which usually ended us up at BW3's in Indy.

I hadn't eaten at a BW3's since they got rid of the one in downtown Indy and replaced it with a Badaboomz. The HoneyBBQ sauce was just as good as I remembered it. It was a little sweet with a not overpowering medium heat, which I killed slightly with a cup of ranch dressing. I echo everyone else's complaints about how dry the boneless wings usually are. And I also echo the price complaints: it was 60c for a whole chicken tender a couple of years ago and now it's 60c for a boneless wing.

Overall, I'd still eat there again. It's a tad pricey for what you get, but what you get is good enough.

P.S. We discovered very early in Indy that it was a bad idea to take advantage of the full service option at BW3's. I was very amused to find that they'd discovered the same thing here in Omaha.

  • 5 Honey Barbecue Boneless Wings ($3.00)
  • 5 Teriyaki Boneless Wings ($3.00)
  • Regular Chips with Cheese ($?)
  • Drink ($2.19)
It may be a bad idea to take advantage of full service, but that doesn't keep a number of the people from our office who go each week from doing it.

No disagreement on the boneless being sometimes very surface dry, but the flavor of the sauces usually seems to carry for me, barring phase of the moon. Cham nailed the weirdness of the inconsistency dead on here: National chains are supposed to be, to some degree, consistent, and this place isn't even consistent with ITSELF, let alone other restaurants in the chain. And the price is definitely a bit impressive. 10-15 dollars for a lunch is a decent meal in many other places that aren't quite so bad for you, and a fast food meal for 5-6 bucks is just as obtainable, just as large, and just as american.

I am not sure the 'Teriyaki' flavor is really what I'd consider teriyaki, especially compared to a place such as Sakura Bana, but I do enjoy it, even though it's not spicy. The Honey BBQ is a good goto sauce with a bit of heat that rarely steers you wrong. I've had a number of their sauces as well, and they are, on the overall, enjoyable. What this place really has is 'options with nonobjectionability'. The food does not impress, but it's 'there' enough, and customizable enough to fit the Average American Palate. Also, if you're a fan of bar games/trivia, BW3s tend to have those (as this one does), which can be a draw for some people. (Cham didn't go into his depressingly large Players Plus numbers.) Of course, alcohol as well, as BW3s is also theoretically a sports bar, so TVs and alcohol for people who want to be anti-social or social, (mostly) respectively. It's not a bad place to go socially, but there are better food places in the world. And probably even in your city.