Buffalo Tap (Savage, MN)
By Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
What's not to like about a biker bar with coloring placemats for kids? At the Buffalo Tap, you'll see folks on motorcycles as well as families in minivans. And why not? Everyone can enjoy their excellent chicken wings.
The Buffalo Tap's wings come in orders of 6 or 12, and with your choice of one of ten sauces. The Garlic Parmesan is their house special and it's got a good vinegar kick to balance the cheese flavor. They have a standard wing sauce in a variety of spice options. We were not the least bit intimidated by the Medium, but then we like hot and spicy food. We can also recommend the Caribbean Jerk, Honey-Mustard, and Thai Barbecue. You can get a bottle of the house special to take home; we're putting it on everything.
Like several Twin Cities institutions, the Buffalo Tap serves their version of the Juicy Lucy, a double hamburger with cheese in the middle. Unfortunately, theirs is merely two patties stacked with a slice of cheese between them. The classic and traditional burger has the cheese sealed between the patties, creating a molten lava of cheese that suggests danger and excitement to the incautious. We rather like the thrill of a true Juicy Lucy and found this plain and uninspiring in comparison. It is served without garnish, though you can get grilled onion, lettuce and tomato if you ask.
The regular burger, served in a variety of styles, was no better than okay. But the buffalo burger was a flavorsome treat.
Better still was one of the best Ruebens we've had in a long time. Great corned beef combined with well-drained sauerkraut -- important because otherwise the sandwich gets too soggy -- and the whole perfectly grilled.
The buffalo chicken breast is a fried breast served with any of their win sauces. We think the sauce is an excellent idea, but didn't like the fried chicken at all. Our advice is to order the grilled chicken sandwich, and ask them to pour the Hot B.T. Original Wing Sauce on it instead of mayonnaise.
All sandwiches come with your choice of chips, fries, seasoned wedge fries, soup, salad, or cole slaw. We liked the wedge fries: good thick pieces of potato dipped in an unobtrusive batter that added a welcome bit of seasoning. These are at their best when served very hot.
Skip the side salad, a sorry bowl of lettuce, croutons, tomatoes, and we forgot what. Honestly, we think that institutional cheese is the hallmark of a bad salad. The cole salw is institutional, but not actively awful.
For $1.99, one can upgrade the fries to onion rings. Tasty as the onion rings are, we thought the portion was a little small for the substantial upcharge.
Appetizers are mostly fried, and not very interesting. Neither is the chili, which had too little flavor and too much celery.
But don't let any of this dissuade you from going. Go for drinks, or go with your family and sit in the no-smoking section. Order a bunch of wings and drinks, and have a great time. The place is clean, and the service is friendly. What's not to like?
Schneier.com is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Co3 Systems, Inc.