A tradition I miss, that COVID-19 has paused, is when a friend at work and I regularly went out to lunch seeking the perfect chicken wings. The finds were sometimes epic. And while we may not go out regularly anymore, I still try to visit some of the places we hit when I work up the courage to face the plague in the name of hunger.
City Kitchen (or “Fat City Kitchen” depending on who you ask and where you look) is a reliably exceptional spot that brings together food stylings from all over the country. They have a great beer selection (from locations all over the U.S. – and the location of origin is listed on the menu), and their employees are top-tier, too!
I will never forget that on my first visit to the place, we didn’t come back for about a month. The bartender was the same woman on the second trip, and she literally remembered my entire order from the first visit AND the beer that I drank. Suffice to say, I have been back after that encounter multiple times.
But – the way food reviews work on this site – I’m reviewing a meal that I’ve had at least 3 times (to be fair & to judge “consistency”), not the restaurant. So, while I like City Kitchen a lot – I won’t be factoring in the ambiance and cool staff into my review.
Let’s get to it.
My Opinion After the Last Bite…
The “City Wings” from Fat City Kitchen are damn near my definition of chicken wing perfection! They are made right when you order them and come out H-O-T (temperature-wise). The crispiness on them is just right – I hate a soft wing, but I don’t want them “fried-hard” either. And the seasoning is drool-inducing. I don’t know what they put in their dry-rub, but it’s very flavorful.
You get plenty (I think you get 10+ wings) to eat for your portion – but I think it’s wings only. I always end up ordering their truffle fries à la carte because the wings are appetizers on the menu (but I eat ’em like a meal). Another “drawback”, depending on your adventurous nature & whether or not you’re a creature of habit, is that I’ve seen wing flavors be swapped out. The friend from work I mentioned earlier actually hates that his favorite flavor isn’t there anymore. He’s come back, but he often says he misses his old flavor.
So, let’s see if I can convince you to go and try these before they’re gone.
Plating & Presentation –
I’m a strong believer that people will want to eat a meal EVEN MORE if it comes out well-plated and aesthetically pleasing. Unless they’re blindfolded or actually can’t see – people get hit with either the sight or smell of a meal first, so it’s crucial the part this feature plays isn’t understated.
This is where City Kitchen ranks the lowest on this particular item from their menu. Yes, it’s just wings, but I’ve been other places where the wings get dressed up just like everything else (if not more so than they deserve).
Still, got some pretty pictures out of my last trip this week. (NOTE: Again, these wings are pictured with the truffle fries – they don’t come with the wings, I ordered them as an à la carte side.)
Again – for what it is, looks just fine by my book — but, I’m docking points here on the grounds that I’ve order wings that are presented to me in a bit of a fancier fashion. Three and a half isn’t bad considering the context here.
Up next in priority (if not first – they’re kind of interchangeable): How does it hit your nose once you take a whiff? Does it linger? Was it there before the food? Do you like it? Did it make other people turn around with envy?
These sings smelled good — they smelled… like wings! It is a welcomed scent, but nothing to write home about. They smell how they should but don’t overwhelm you at all. You don’t sniff it coming and the offering doesn’t hang around on your breath after you’ve knocked them down.
Still – just simply seasoned wings. I don’t think they’re as big on smell so much as they are on flavor, though.
Food Preparation –
The presentation and aroma don’t matter if they don’t consistently prepare the food to your liking. Luckily, for me and anyone else who happens to this establishment for these wings, City Kitchen preps well – and they do so repeatedly.
Pro Tip: Order the dry rub version of the wings and your sauce(s) of choice on the side (that bartender I mentioned earlier put me onto this one).
If you do, you can do THIS (on top of trying things in multiple flavors if you get more than one sauce)…
Eh? How good does that look?!
Each time I go to Fat City Kitchen, they prep the wings exactly how I want. I have never had any issues with anything being undercooked or burnt or anything like that. The wings are freshly made to a nice balance of crispy, yet juicy.
Level of Flavor –
By the time our brains have processed all of the above – we start making real assessments of flavor.
I can say that I enjoy the flavors of sauces offered for the wings. My favorite is definitely Buffalo (what can I say – I’m a Basic Bitch sometimes). And I used to love the Sriracha flavor they had (my friend’s old favorite) – but that’s the one they removed from the menu
The dry rub is where I really judge things, though. At times, some bites can be a tad too salty, but I like taking that gamble (and it’s not often that I lose that one). They have somehow managed to mix the ideal combination of herbs and spices, for my tastes, to fully enjoy a nice range of flavors with each bite.
I have had these wings about 10 times now — easily — and they ALWAYS stick the landing on the flavor! This brings me to the next section…
Consistency of Execution –
Fat City Kitchen’s performance on these wings is solid every single time I’m there. They’ve never once disappointed me.
While other factors may definitely get customers into a restaurant, it’s consistent delivery that gets them to come back again and again. That’s what these wings have done for me (and the funny thing is – these aren’t my favorite wings in Alexandria — they’re just “up there”).
I love the fact that when I order these particular wings, I know what I’m about to get into regardless of who’s in the kitchen at the time. I have this thing where I kind of shimmy when I eat something I like. I think I used to do it as a baby or something and it just stuck.
I ALWAYS dance while I eat these wings.
(And for beer-lovers, there aren’t really many choices of beverage on their menu that don’t pair well with this simple staple item.)
Bang for the Buck –
Not to drag this one, but I think I hinted at this throughout: I would really like it if these wings came WITH fries vs. having to order them full-price on the side. That is the only thing that dings them half a star here.
When it’s all done, you should feel like the meal was money well spent. On more than one occasion, I’ve paid for my food at the end of this plate and just thought, “I wish the fries were included with the meal and that there was just a small upcharge for the premium side vs. paying for it fully outright.”
I’m happy with the portion and everything else — I just really wish the wings came WITH something on the side. Maybe that’s what the garnish veggies are supposed to accomplish, but – not ashamed to admit it – I’ve never eaten those. Not once.
If you made it all the way down here, is your mouth watering yet?.
Haha – mine is actually. I love these wings and recommend them to friends all the time. I’ve taken wing snobs with me to get them & “City Wings” have gotten their seal of approval — constantly.
If you’re in the area and would like to give City Kitchen a go, check out their site and plan your trip! Tell them, “Johnnie sent you.”
(No – j/k – don’t do that! I go there, but they don’t “know me”.)
Peace, and thanks for reading.
The soundtrack for this post provided by…
– Body Image 1 © Fat City Kitchen
– All other images (including Cover Image) © Johnnie Weathersby III