There’s a specific kind of joy in the chicken wing experience. The Germans probably have a word for it. The pungent aroma of a hot wing stings the nose and the mind migrates to oneiric images of oversized televisions glowing with sports, the low rumble of bar chatter, a cold fresh pint. For contemporary wing observers such as myself, it’s damn near a slice of Elysium…with a side of celery and blue cheese dip.
They are, by nature, a simple food, easily made and easily scarfed. Yet you’ll find no other hors d’oeuvre that inspires such vehement opinions. Battered or classic? Hot sauce or buffalo? What is the perfect level of crispness? And most importantly, who has the best?
That last question is the biggest. For many years I’ve searched for the answer myself here in Bermuda. As a service to my countrymen, I set out to solve this riddle once and for all. Alongside my faithful wing companion, an actuary named Akhil Kapur, I spent a day sampling wings like a wine expert, taking small bites so as not to fill ourselves, murmuring about texture and flavour in between. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.
The Docksider Pub and Restaurant—8 for $12 / 12 for $17 / 16 for $23 / 25 for $33
The entire wing experience is perhaps greatest at the Docksider bar. Indeed, you’ll find they claim to have “Bermuda’s Best Wings” right there in the menu. It’s hard to disagree. All the classics are on offer—you can even choose just how spicy you want your hot wings, all the way up to “nuclear”—but the bar’s regulars will tell you “Reed’s Style” wings (named after bar owner Reed Young) are the way to go. As is tradition, there’s nothing fancy about Dockie’s wings but they tick every box and are messy as hell. Slathered in sauce, crunchy outside and tender inside, you won’t find a better bar to enjoy wings alongside some sports.
The Terrace (formerly Red Steakhouse)—Glazed Wings, 6 for $9 / 12 for $17
The Terrace sets itself apart on two fronts. One: the wings are glazed with butter and fantastically crispy. Two: the impossibly hot and equally tasty Scotch bonnet sauce. The first time I discovered these wings the waitresses puttered around me asking if I was alright, recalling tales of others who have attempted to eat six whole Scotch bonnet wings. It was an arduous undertaking to say the least, but the flavour offered by the locally sourced Scotch bonnets was too much to put down. But if Scoville isn’t your bag, chef Tony Belvedere’s rum swizzle BBQ sauce is an equally unique offering.
The Bermuda Bistro at the Beach—1/2 pound, $10 / 1 pound, $18
Part of the allure of wings is their cheapness. Many a night overseas I spent putting down 50-cent wings, but you won’t find such luxuries in Bermuda. In lieu, the Beach has the cheapest, best wings we could find (8 for $10.) Of particular note is their homemade honey BBQ sauce, which was far and away the best we found on our tour.
Out of Town
Boundary Sports Bar and Grille—6 for $16 / 12 for $26
If you haven’t had a chance to visit the new sports bar located at the Fairmont Southampton, make an afternoon of it and don’t miss the wings. The mango and habanero tropical heat wings strike a great balance between sweetness and heat.