Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Omaha Wing Challenge -- Big Red Restaurant and Sports Bar

Big Red Restaurant and Sports Bar
8100 Cass Street
Omaha, NE
402-390-9495

As if I didn't learn my lesson from the last time I ordered wings at a keno joint, I decided to meet up with part-time HitThatDive wing reviewer Speck at Big Red Restaurant and Sports Bar because word has it, unlike the vomitous wings at LaVista Keno...these are actually really good. Settle down everyone...I'll be the judge of that!

Show of hands...who's seen the movie Ratatouille?  It seems like more and more that I start to feel like the food critic Anton Ego whose reviews of restaurants can "make or break" a place.  OK...well THAT part isn't true, but it's getting to be where I sit there and feel like I look a lot like this as I take notes about the food I'm eating...

Not really me.
And as always...I throw in a totally unrelated element as my way to foreshadow something that happens later in the "review".  So keep reading. 

Some of you know how this works, for those that don't here's how it goes...wings are rated in 5 categories for a total potential perfect score of 50. The current reigning champion (by virtue of a committee vote) is The Pheasant with a total score of 48.  And, for shits and giggles (mostly to get the shits) the worst score has been the severed toe wings at LaVista Keno which flatlined at a 2. TWO? For reals!

Odd pricing
First Impressions: Speck was running behind, so as I sat at the bar for I while, I could smell wings that someone else ordered...and they smelled good! But at that point of the afternoon, I would have said the wings at LaVista Keno didn't smell too bad either because I was HUNGRY.

After waiting about 20 minutes after we ordered (which is the right amount of time to make a batch of wings the right way) these babies looked just the wings I ate growing up in Pittsburgh. Score! They weren't necessarily steaming hot, which Speck and I both noted, but who cares...let's eat!

Side Note: They price their wings pretty oddly here...$10.59 for 12 OR $13.99 for 18. Do yourself the favor and just get the 18...it's a way better deal for some strange reason.

SCORE: 9

Good stuff!

Sauce: Really the only "weakness" to the this order of wings was the sauce...and don't get me wrong...it was actually very good. But, for what was called "Hot" sauce on the menu, this stuff really didn't have any real bite to it at all.  But it was good and tasty, like in really good, just not outstanding.

However, because the sauce wasn't SO overpowering, Speck and I were able to plow through all 18 wings in no time flat.  And also a big thumbs up for wings that are well-coated but not too messy to eat and aren't swimming in the stuff by the time you get to the bottom of a big order.

SCORE: 8

Perfect
Crispy: Oh, so close on this one. They could have had just a touch more crunch to them...but man it was ever so close. Expertly fried to near perfection, none close to being too cool on the inside, yet not one overcooked chewy piece out of all 18. Well done!

It was a bit cold in the building today, and since these didn't come out smoking hot, they cooled quite quickly (even though Speck and I were throwing them down like Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble) which made the last few even a bit less crispy than the first few...but still very good.

Hard to take away points because of today's arctic-like temperatures, but a big thumbs up for almost a perfect 10 on this one.

SCORE: 9

Perfect again

Size: This was a perfect score. These were wings the size I remember growing up...the size where you can plow through 10 of them...and still complain about being hungry.  But, you fell like you go your money's worth too.

If all restaurants served wings that were this uniform in size, there would be a lot less undercooked, or jerky-like wings in the world. Not sure it even makes sense to belabor this point.

SCORE: 10 

Not bad
Extras: Both the Blue Cheese and Ranch had a good homemade taste to them. After fishing around for a bit, I even found I nice big chuck of blue cheese at the bottom of mine. Celery is by "request" and they came served in big salad bowls like you would find at P.F. Chang's...which I thought was slightly odd.

Even though these weren't messy in the least, it would have been nice to have just a few more napkins handy...but really not much of an issue for me or Speck.

Final Score: 9

Total Score: 45 out of 50

I was amazed (Still not really me) 

Just like the food critic at the end of Ratatouille...these wings reminded me over and over again of the ones I would get from little Mom and Pop places back in Pennsylvania when I was growing up. Sometimes there's a real benefit in not over-thinking things and just keeping it simple.  Which is why, I guess, I was so amazed at the quality of the food here in a corporate Keno joint.

I suppose that's my way of saying that maybe my opinions were a bit jaded because every bite reminded me of sitting around my dorm room in Latrobe, PA eating wings, drinking beer and not having a care in the world. I still do two of those things, but man, that last one gets harder to do the older you get...but I digress...

Add to the fact that I would not hesitate to bring kids here, unlike a few bars with wings, and this entire (unplanned) trip turned out to be one of the most unexpected surprises in a while.

In no way did I expect a trip down memory lane, while eating wings in a Keno bar in Nebraska and making odd Pixar movie references...and yet...that's exactly what happened.  In any case...try these wings...trust me!


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