by the standards of chain restaurants in malls (not a high bar to set, i'll admit), Buffalo Wild Wings delivered the goods on Saturday. things got off to a bit of a slow start when we had to wait about 20 minutes only to get shoehorned into a space too small for our entire group. but they did have that bar trivia that's always a crowd pleaser and goes a long way toward redeeming the character flaws of the genre. plus, we had a good waiter which is key with a large party in settings like this.
after an adjacent table was procured, the parade of wings began with 12 of the Blazin' variety. Blazin' is the hottest of the 14 sauce flavors and they run a contest around it - if you can put down 12 of them in less than 6 minutes you get a free t-shirt and a Polaroid up on the wall by the entrance. the 6-minute time frame seemed pretty generous, but we wanted to see just how hot these things were going be. the waiter gave the standard "you sure you want to do that?" response, and i was expecting them to produce a face-melting, instant pain. but there was no waiver to sign, and 5 or 6 people gave them a try and no one thought they were unbearable. they were hot for sure, but it was much more of a slow burn that lingered but was definitely manageable even without the bleu cheese. emboldened, Brooklyn Viola decided to take the challenge while the rest of the 200 wings and assorted fried foods began to stream out of the kitchen. i recall there being onion rings, mini corn-dogs, buffalo chips (big fried potato rounds), fried mushrooms, and chicken fingers going around at the very least.
as stated in this space, my goal was to put away 32 wings to commemorate each year of my presence on this earth. i was pretty confident that i could do it and maybe even surpass it. i had resolved to resist the temptation of the celery and bleu cheese (which i love almost as much as the wings) and all the other fried goodness, and i fared reasonably well with this goal. the celery seal was broken fairly early on due to the first 3 Blazin' wings, but when the batch of 50 Hot wings arrived it was eyes on the prize. other flavors arrived in smaller batches, and pretty soon the gluttony was seriously under way. all in all, i tasted 9 of the 14 sauce flavors in various quantities. the Mango Habanero may have been my favorite of the exotic varieties. with about 20 people chowing down, there were piles of bones, napkins, and celery and ramekins of dressing on every available surface. i think just about every one of the 14 sauces was consumed at some point or another by someone.
this picture does not do justice to the carnage that was wrought
after a short time, Viola's challenge arrived and we all slowed down to watch. working steadily and methodically he left no doubt as to whether he was up to it, devouring all 12 wings in about 1:45 without any breaks for liquids or other analgesics. based on casual observation of the wall of fame, that would seem to put him in the top 10% of eaters at the Brooklyn location. he claimed his t-shirt, posed for his portrait and joined the other brazen Blazin' consumers (potential YouTube coming here).
with the bones amassing and appetites waning, my tally sheet showed that i had consumed 28 wings (plus some celery, a mushroom and a few Buffalo Chips). pretty good, but a little short. another order was going to be necessary and i was feeling good enough to contemplate taking the Challenge. caution won out, however, and i just ordered another 12 in Hot. this proved to be a prescient move after my stomach began to realize the amount of food that had been put into it, not to mention the 2 large beers. by the time they showed up (after the 3rd beer had arrived), i was looking forward to putting down 4 of them in short order and calling it quits. which is exactly what i did, passing the leftovers down the table where they were quickly demolished. but i met my goal. here's how it broke down:
the tally sheet - surprisingly stain free
i always appreciate a bar that has large sized beers. in this case you had the option of a 22oz. draft, though i do have to deduct points for the lack of pitchers - really you're a sports bar in the mall, how can you not have pitchers? a few people decided to go the fancy drink route, including Drummland who was putting back Mai Tais, Long Island Iced Teas, and i don't know what else. even so, he was still going strong several hours later. in the end, the tab seemed pretty reasonable given the size of the group and the quantities consumed.
Drumm doubles down on the Mai Tais
so could i do better than 32 and hold my own in some sort of competition? yes and maybe. without the beer, celery, et. al. and just focused on wings i don't think 50 would be out of the question. i'm not so sure how i would do if speed were necessary, but i think next time i'll give the Challenge and go and see how i do. i don' t know if i need such a large audience for that, though.
many thanks to all those who came, to the wife for putting this together, and also for baking the awesome lemon pound cake for dessert.