Dinner got off to a good start Saturday night when our group of eight mostly Purdue fans was seated next to a Purdue sign at Wings Etc. on Dupont Road. And we were seated immediately — no waiting on a Saturday night.
Because we had a large group, with various tastes and opinions, I'm sharing our collective thoughts about this restaurant experience.
The restaurant opened last summer and is part of a small chain that originated in South Bend. It's a typical sports bar, with TVs all tuned to sports channels and posters and signs on the wall. It's family-friendly; there were lots of kids there Saturday night, and the restaurant offers a menu for kids 12 and younger all priced at $4.39, including a side and a drink.
We started off with three appetizers: fried pickle spears, fried mushrooms and jalapeno cheese poppers. All were deep-fried, of course.
The mushrooms were coated with a crunchy batter and were piping hot and moist inside, not greasy at all and earthy-tasting. They were served with a ranch sauce that added a pop of flavor and helped cool them off.
The jalapeno poppers were “exceptional,” Tim said, crunchy and so spicy Molly, after eating one, had to slather on ChapStick to soothe her stinging lips.
The fried pickle spears were good — greasy and spicy, said Meg.
I'm not a wing person, so I left that evaluation up to the people who were. Mike ordered 10 boneless wings, five flavored with hot Buffalo sauce and five with hot Barbie (barbecue) sauce. He said they were “great” — meaty, and he liked the flavor and spices of the sauces.
Steve ordered the 16-wing basket. Half were coated with “Me-So-Spicy” sauce, described as sweet hot Asian. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the hottest, he rated them a seven. The other eight were the hot Buffalo sauce. The wings aren't served with any sides other than a couple of celery stalks, so keep that in mind if you order them.
Also, Wings Etc. has plenty of rolls of paper towels on the tables, but Steve would have appreciated some wet wipes for his sticky fingers.
Tim got the ribs-and-wings combo, and he echoed what Mike said: The wings were meaty, and he liked the flavor of the sauce. The ribs, he said, “were nothing to brag about.”
Cindy (another Cindy, not me) ordered a half-pound of ribs and was not impressed. On a scale of one to 10, she put them at below a five, saying they were fatty and tough. But then she said, “Why did I order ribs at a wing place?”
Molly ordered a prime rib sub, which was supposed to include a half-pound of meat. She felt shorted on the meat and actually tore away half of the bun, feeling there was too much bun for the meat.
Meg chose deep-fried shrimp and French fries. The shrimp were a decent size, but the cocktail sauce was not typical, she said. It had more of a barbecue flavor than typical cocktail sauce. I see on the menu that Wings Etc. serves the shrimp with either Buffalo sauce or cocktail sauce. Maybe Meg got the Buffalo sauce instead of cocktail sauce.
Todd went with a Laredo burger, topped with pepper-jack cheese, bacon, onion rings and southwest ranch sauce. He said it was good, and he'd get it again.
As for me, I went with a burger, too. I had mine topped with American cheese, pickles and tomatoes. The burger had a nice charred taste. (Wings Etc. describes all its burgers as “chargrilled.”) It was served on a large Kaiser bun that held up well to the large burger, but made the sandwich very thick and somewhat difficult to bite into.
The fries that were served with some of the meals were just fries, we all agreed. Wings Etc. offered straight or curly fries; we all tried the straight fries.
Service was great, considering there were eight people and four checks to keep straight.
Wings Etc. serves typical bar food — and pretty good bar food. I'm not sure it has an edge over any other sports bars in town, but it's got the basics covered — lively atmosphere, decent food, lots of TVs and plenty of beer.
Every other Tuesday, Larson describes a one-time dining experience at an area restaurant. The News-Sentinel pays for meals. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. You can reach her at 461-8284 or email@example.com. To read other columns, go to www.news-sentinel.com/section/LARSON.