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Tour de Wings: Pine Hills-ish

May 24, 2018

Did yesterday’s story about judging burgers make you hunger for the excitement of participating in a food competition? Well the tours are a competition of sort. There is always a top pick, and while sometimes the favorite place is clear, on other outings participants are divided.

Regardless, it’s always fun, not to mention a tremendous learning experience. This time we’re going out for buffalo wings, and we’re heading to the big juicy middle of Albany where many of the students live. Pine Hills makes up a large part of it, but we may technically extend past the neighborhood’s official boundaries.

Last week, we opened the floor to nominations. Today, after carefully reviewing those nominations, I’m thrilled to announce the full slate of five local wing joints we’ll be visiting on Saturday, June 2.

Of course, before that happens, I should probably address a small handful of the issues that come up in the nomination phase.

This is a tour of buffalo wings. No garlic and butter wings. No asian sesame wings. No smoked wings. As a buffalo wing tour, that means we’re looking for something fried. Capital Q is out. So is Capital City Gastropub. Maybe a smoked wing tour is in order down the road? That’s a question for another day.

Buffalo wings should be bar food, dammit. After all, these things were designed to be consumed with beer. Not that you have to drink beer when eating wings. But beer should always be available. That eliminates Chicken Joe’s and the pizza delivery places.

Finally, when deciding to bring buffalo wings as a food into the Fussy Little Tours several years ago, I realized we had to have strict rules about geography. There are just too many places to enjoy wings in the Capital Region. I learned the hard way from the Tour de Cider Donuts not to get all loosey goosey with geography. With that in mind, I’d be happy to do a follow up Albany wing tour to include Elbo Room and Delaware Avenue tour, as well as another one that visits Lynn’s and other uptown options

So what’s the plan for Saturday, June 2?

At 11:30am we’re going to meet in the food court on Madison Avenue and West Lawrence Street. That’s 1066 Madison Avenue to be precise.

From there, we will break up into teams. The last Albany Wing Tour fielded two teams and that worked out nicely. Don’t worry, it’s painless. And most people will get paired with other readers of the FLB. That means, you already have something in common. Consider them friends you haven’t met yet.

Team size and numbers will depend on the turnout. I’ll spare you the chart, but the ideal team size is four people. Most likely teams will be a combinations of threesomes and foursomes. Of course, if you want to come with your own threesome or foursome already assembled, that’s great too.

So, which places made the cut?

As far as I’m concerned, Graney’s Bar & Grill is going in as the wing to beat. The Broadway location handily won the first Albany tour. It will be interesting to see how this one is able to compare.

On the same block is Fountain. It’s a tavern. This is tavern food. Some people like their pizza better. But others are very complimentary about the wings. We’ve been instructed that to get true buffalo flavor at this spot, you have to order them “hot”. So noted.

Junior’s Bar & Grill is a neighborhood staple for this kind of food. In fact, the place just expanded. But its Madison Avenue location is the mothership. So we’ll try those wings and see how they rate.

Washington Tavern. What can I say? You convinced me. So we’ll go. Perhaps my low expectations will make them taste even better. At the very least, this classic beer and wing spot will not go ignored on Saturday.

Despite the naysayers during the nominations, I’ve heard really good things about the wings at Crave, and while it’s the only place on the tour that is not a bar, after all these years it does indeed finally serve beer. Plus this chef-driven, local, and independent restaurant is excellent, and I really want to taste their buffalo wings for myself.

That said, nobody mentioned Casey Finn’s Pub & Grill in the nominations. I can’t figure out if they have wings, and I would be open for calling a game day audible and swapping out the one spot that’s not a bar for the off-the-radar dive bar nobody has really written much about. Let’s call that an open question to be decided on game day.

I’ll bring the scoresheets.

If you want to come, bring a pen and cash in small denominations. There is no activity fee to participate in this event. However, each team will be responsible for splitting their own bills, and doing it all in cash makes everything much much easier. I just ask that you tip your servers very well given the real estate we’ll be taking up, and the relatively small size of the check at each stop.

So who is in for an afternoon of walking and wing eating?

Please respond to this post to RSVP, and let me know if you plan to bring others along too. It’s really just for organizational purposes, so I know how many scoresheets to bring. Looking forward to another great tour with the best food blog readers in the Capital Region.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2018 1:37 pm

    Print a scoresheet for me.

    I’m conflicted on The Fountain. I’m convinced their wings are crap. I don’t care what other less discerning palates claim, and I don’t think they belong on the wing tour. But, I suppose to settle the issue, we go there and make it official. It’s always possible we’ll catch them on a good day.

    Regarding their ‘hot’ wings. It was the worst sauce of the few we tried when we were there for Third Thursday. Methinks with that sauce, they’re already at a disadvantage.

  2. May 25, 2018 9:18 am

    Max and Ruth will be there!!!

  3. Karen Kiorpes permalink
    May 28, 2018 12:30 pm

    Im in!!!!

  4. Benjamin Maggi permalink
    May 31, 2018 12:20 pm

    RSVP for 2 people (Ben and Sarah).
    I have never eaten at any of the 6 places listed, so hopefully we will be put in a group that knows there way around.

    One other thing: is it poor etiquette to bring a water bottle with us? I don’t want to buy drinks at 5 different taverns (which will fill us up and cost a bunch).

    Thanks for setting this up Dan. I only noticed it (luckily) today!

  5. June 2, 2018 11:09 am

    Last minute additions! Put us down for 2 or possibly 3. If there aren’t enough scoresheets we will share.

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  1. Eating tavern-style wings without the tavern - Burnt My Fingers

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