Thursday, January 9, 2014

Oscar's Round 2 -- Omaha Wing Challenge

17330 Lakeside Hills Plaza
New Menu
Omaha, NE 68130
402 758-1910

Two years ago, I stopped by Oscar's to review their wings. Predictably, they received 47 points out of a possible of 50. As most of you know, Oscar's has been know as one of the top bars in the area to always get consistently great wings. But then...something happened.

Since the review two years ago, only two things have really been consistent with every order of wings at Oscar's. One...they make it to you faster than a cheap Mexican place can zap a chimichanga in a microwave and flop it onto your table.  Two...the characteristic "charbuff" crunch has been replaced with a fully cooked, yet slightly slimy and not all that hot of a wing....which is kind of a bummer.

Great Sauce
Word around town is that Oscar's hasn't been all that thrilled with me since a bit of a "Twitter war" we had back in September.  So, chances are they still aren't going to be all that happy with me after this one either...but here's the bottom line, well as I see it anyway...

Oscar's has become a victim of its own success and is now trying to crank out wings faster than a sailor on shore leave can spend a stack of 20's in a seaside whorehouse.  Sure, it's a great way to turn tables faster than ever, but is it really worth a lower quality final product?  In my opinion, no.  But of course...I'm not the one making a ton of profits from the cash machine that is Oscar's.




This was a GOOD one
First Impressions:  Even for a Tuesday lunch crowd, this place is PACKED as usual.  There may be bar owners in town not making money...but it sure ain't these owners!  I take a seat near the bar and wait a good while for someone to wait on me.  I already know what I'm going to order...10 wings, charbuffed, double dipped in Buffalo sauce.  See, this was part of my test...I'm adding an extra step, so clearly it should take longer.

I get out my stopwatch and hit "Go" just after the server enters my order. Seven minutes, 16 seconds and .4 hundredths of a second...my wings arrive.  HOLY DOG SHIT...that's fast by fast food standards!  The always great sauce again has enough of a burn that you can smell the heat...but something is missing. Oh, I know, wings fresh out of a fryer (or grill for that matter) should be steaming hot. These lacked any sort of steam at all.

Score: 7

This was NOT a good wing
Sauce:  For me, Oscar's has the best sauce in the area.  It tastes almost exactly like the wing sauce I've been making for more than 20 years.  The Buffalo sauce in particular is the perfect compliment to the wings that have a good amount of charring on them...which are usually the smaller ones.

Score: 10

Crispy: This got a "10" last time.  And, if I change the category to "Chewy" it could get a 10 again. What once was the hallmark of a great Oscar's wing was its crunchiness. They were never overcooked, yet, always were good and crispy nearly every time.  But now what you get is a wing that has been (I'm guessing baked first) and then kept warm in the kitchen for some amount of time.  If it only took 7 minutes to get my food, they must thrown them in they fryer for 90ish seconds and then on the grill for another 30-45 seconds.  It CAN'T be any longer than that...or my order would have taken MUCH longer.

Also of note, those of us that have downed our fair share of wings...what happens when you pull apart and bite into that first one?  EXACTLY...you can't because they are too hot and burn your fingers. Even on my first wing, I was never in danger of burning anything...and by the last wing...it somehow seemed cooler than room temperature.

And, this is?
Oscar's vows they have never changed how they make wings...I would have to disagree.  What's changed is the churn-them-out as fast as possible cooking style that they never used before. This is the biggest weakness of Oscar's wings today.

Score: 5

Size:  All but two were perfect size...but the ones in question were a bit on the "mutant drummie" side and, while fully cooked, were far more slimy than the rest.  It also was the bigger two that gave off a distinct baked chicken taste...just like the bland oven baked chicken my Grandma would make every third Sunday.  But...not too much at fault here...moving on.

Score: 8

Extras:  Extra plate, check.  A few additional napkins, check. Sad-looking celery, check. Watery bleu cheese that doesn't taste anything like bleu cheese, check.  Wetanp.  What, now you don't even get a wetnap here any more?  At the very least, the corners of the packet make a great impromptu toothpick...not to mention I walked to my car with sauce on my face which would not have happened with a wetnap like they used to give out here. Not the end of the world I suppose...

Score: 8

Final Score: 38 out of 50 (Original Score 47 out of 50) 

Final Thoughts:

The Good:  Oscar's has some of the best sauce and reasonably priced wings in the area.  And, as history has shown, they really do know how to make a great order of wings if they want to.

The Bad:  The microwave burrito that I'm making for dinner, at this very second, takes six minutes to make.  How on earth can a restaurant place an order, properly make wings, plate them, THEN bring them to your table in seven minutes?  Answer...by cutting corners in the kitchen as far as cooking them properly, the way they once did.

Oscar's is a close to an "institution" as there is this far out in West Omaha.  But they sure could take a few notes from a place like The Salty Dog in Council Bluffs that makes it clear on their menu that all wings are cooked after you order them, so they will take at least 20 minutes. You can still do way worse in the area, but sadly, at one point not that long ago...it was almost impossible to do any better than Oscar's wings.


You can't make an egg this fast!




2 comments:

  1. Ever since I stopped driving to Oscars, and going to Tanner's instead, I've realized how horrible Oscars is. For me, my wallet, stomach, and gas tank; Oscars is O-VER-RATED. I'm not saying Tanner's has the best wings in the city, however, they get the meaning of char-buff wings. Spot on review, Scuba. Now, I'm going to keep drinking, and fire up the grill on this Thursday night, and make my own damn wings, with sauce that was formed in a lab.

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  2. We need a wing cookoff...and soon!

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