Chicken wings are universally beloved, it seems, by everyone except the animals themselves, who reject them for what they are, worthless instruments of flight. Whole chains from Buffalo Wild Wings to Wingstop exist to satisfy America’s many wing nuts, although rare is the fast- or fast-casual establishment that doesn’t at least take a passing interest in them, too. There are Buffalo burnin’ hot wings at Pizza Hut, Nashville hot wings at KFC, Naked wings at Hooter’s, and so on. PF Chang’s used to press chickens into service as Hunan dragon wings, while Outback calls theirs kookaburra wings, confusingly, since kookaburras have their own wings.
Inserting oneself into the crowded chicken wing market would seem a breathtaking act of hubris, but that’s what the folks at Brooklyn Wing House did just a little over three years ago when they opened a restaurant in the Crown Heights neighborhood of their home borough. A second opened a year later in Queens, and a third in September in Garden City Park. The people behind BWH are clearly excited to have planted a flag further east, and for good reason. Despite their ubiquity, it’s surprising how many wing places don’t bother to marinate chicken parts before frying. BWH doesn’t make that mistake, consistently turning out a plump, succulent base product that survives anything you might decide to douse it in, and by anything, I mean the 17 flavors of sauces that are always on hand, one for every taste and Myers-Briggs personality.
There are wings for traditionalists (smoked barbecue, garlic lemon pepper) as well as those looking to extend their wingspans a bit (tamarind glazed) or a lot (Mango Ciroc-infused habanero). Prices for all are the same, e.g., $8.50 for 6, $14 for 12, $34 for 30. Thanks largely to BWH’s very fresh, good-quality chicken, I liked all the flavors I sampled — save a garlic Parmesan-crusted wing which tasted fine but was too messy to enjoy, which is saying something when you’re talking about wings.
Not everything at BWH comes from a bird. Salads, fried shrimp, pastas and sandwiches have colonized the corners of a menu that offers no fewer than 60 different things to eat. Among the more intriguing at first glance: something called a seafood attack empanada ($5), dope burger ($9.50), lobster-and-shrimp mac ’n cheese balls ($15) and Notorious B.I.G. catfish sandwich ($15), named for Brooklyn’s most famous rapper.
Curiosity got the better of me when I spied the chicken-and-waffles ($14), shrimp-and-waffles ($15) and catfish-and-waffles combo plates ($14), not to mention the specialty waffles offered at an upcharge. To my mind BWH’s chicken gains nothing from a foundational red velvet waffle, but for all I know, the combination might be a bridge too far for even the greatest wing wizards of flavortown.
Brooklyn Wing House is at 2441 Jericho Tpke. in Garden City Park, 516-636-5191. Opening hours are Monday through Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. Closed Sunday.