Wing Joint (Blaine, MN)
By Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
Chicken wings entered the American consciousness, we think, with the wild popularity of buffalo wings. Since the hot-sauce-covered wings were invented in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, chicken wings have become a ubiquitous appetizer, snack, or light meal.
Which is why we were in Blaine, bellied up to the counter at the Wing Joint. It's a clever name, especially since the wings here are not disjointed drummies, but the full three-part appendage.
The Wing Joint serves two kinds of chicken wings: regular and buffalo. Both are deep-fried in the classic way -- no breading, just dropped into the hot oil.. The regular wings are then dusted with a tasty spice mix, while the buffalo wings are covered with a more spicy spice mix.
You'll get your choice of sauces to dip your wings into. The buffalo is pungent and not very hot. The blue cheese, honey mustard, and barbecue sauces are all good, as is the hot and spicy. There's also a sweet and sour sauce, and ranch dressing.
Unfortunately, most of the rest of the menu is pretty ordinary.
Nearly everything is breaded and deep-fried. Nothing wrong with that; sometimes that's just the food you want. And at the Wing Joint, the fried food isn't overly greasy.
We wish they paid more attention to timing. Fried food is at its best when it's piping hot, and some of the items we were served had started to cool. The slightly underdone onion rings could be hard to bite through without pulling the onion out of its batter casing, which wasn't as good as it could be.
The crisp coating overpowers the catfish; thicker pieces of fish would work better there. The jalapeno poppers weren't as spicy or as hot as we wanted.
Above all, stay away from the pork tenderloin sandwich. This is a breaded and fried piece of pork, served in white bread with cheese, dill pickles, onion, and mayo. It was wrong in so many ways we don't know where to start.
The fries are salted with a seasoned salt. Some folks like that better than others; we prefer ours salted with plain salt. You can also order hojo potatoes, which are thick slices of potatoes fried and then coated in the same spice mix used on the regular wings. They're better than the fries, but we suggest that you order onion rings instead.
We can recommend the barbequed ribs. These meaty, tender pork ribs are served in small or large portions and come with a sweet barbecue sauce.
Eating in, you're confronted with what we frankly think is an indignity -- "House Recipe" brand ketchup is on the tables. Some restaurants think no one will notice if they save a few bucks and don't buy Heinz. It's just not true. People notice.
The Wing Joint is primarily a takeout restaurant. You order at a counter, and most folks get their stuff to go. But they do have a few tables by the door, as well.
Even while we wish for snappier service and beer-battered onion rings, we think the Wing Joint is a great place to go and get a pile of wings to share. Especially on Tuesdays, when they have a $15.35 special on a tub of 24 wings.
Atmosphere: Fast-food restaurant
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