Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >

bakersjoe's Profile

Title Last Reply

There are no truly authentic Buffalo wings in California.

Hats off to drummstikk for an insightful, eloquent, and persuasive post! This should be required reading for everyone who opens a new Buffalo wing establishment -- or for that matter, anyone who attempts anything in life that people with discernment will recognize as "authentic."

Gratifying to see a post that I started 6 years ago is still helping people. Funny that it coincides with another pregnancy in my family. My wife is craving wings and beer again. Meet y'all at Ye Rustic! Or Buffalo?:-)

Jul 22, 2012
bakersjoe in Los Angeles Area

LA variety, 3 day weekend: Mozza, 7th Ray, Pann's, Chou Chou, Din Tai Fung, and _____?

I feel compelled to add one paragraph in defense of Ye Rustic Inn...

If you have planned a family vacation to Buffalo, NY for the sole purpose of experiencing the original Buffalo wing, you wouldn't have as much disdain for Ye Rustic, the only place in California that gets authentic Buffalo wings right. Although I'll admit our family has a much greater love/fanaticism/psychiatric Axis 1 disorder for Buffalo wings than your typical Chowhound.

May 27, 2012
bakersjoe in Los Angeles Area

LA variety, 3 day weekend: Mozza, 7th Ray, Pann's, Chou Chou, Din Tai Fung, and _____?

I totally agree with you, that purely from a food quality perspective, Providence would be the top choice, and arguably some of the ones on my list are of questionable Chow-worthiness. But my goal here is VARIETY -- crazy variety -- of dining experience. I would put Providence in the Mozza category, which we've already done.

My goal is not to find the BEST place in town (especially on a holiday weekend), or to compile the MOST options (although I plan to work my way down Servorg's and New Trial's lists). I just want to fill the blank a totally different experience -- something you can only get in LA, and unlike everything else already on the list (see Title).

As an example of a soul-fulfilling, LA-affirming experience, last night at Inn of the Seventh Ray, a server told us a story of how patrons have asked them to "turn down the frogs." Aided as I was by my nice 2005 Vieux Telegraph Chateauneauf-du-Pape, I was already feeling euphoric, but her anecdote made me LOL and proclaim "ONLY In LA!!!" :-)

May 27, 2012
bakersjoe in Los Angeles Area

LA variety, 3 day weekend: Mozza, 7th Ray, Pann's, Chou Chou, Din Tai Fung, and _____?

We used to live in LA full time, still come back for summers. This is our first weekend back, and we're doing a Chow-tour. Variety is the theme here! Trendy/classic, sophisticated/everyman, can't miss/quirky, African-American/Asian-American, obvious/unexpected.

Looking for the most creative, Chow-worthy option for our one last meal!

Here are a few I've considered:
Johnny Rebs
Tasting Kitchen
Ye Rustic Inn
Tito's Tacos
La Serenata Garibaldi

Price, geography, prestige are all totally irrelevant.
Let's see how outside the box we can get!

May 27, 2012
bakersjoe in Los Angeles Area

Mammoth, and the road there from SoCal, 3 recommendations from an insider

My daughters are on the ski team at Mammoth, so for four years I've been traveling to Mammoth almost every weekend from December through April. I'm exploring options to open a business there as well. Safe to say I know the place. Just did a Chowhound search and, well, y'all need an update. Here are a few places I have been to many times, and have taken many newcomers without ever a disappointing experience. (For the record, I have no financial interest in any of these businesses; and I got to know the proprietors after being a frequent customer, not vice versa.)

Bishop Airport Thai restaurant
Twice last year we tried to fly our charter into Mammoth airport, but the wintry weather forced us to divert to Bishop. So while we're waiting for a taxi to pick us up (he had to drive all the way from Mammoth), we stumbled into the "diner" at the airport. When you walk in, you steel yourself for the worst. The place looks like it exists solely for the convenience of airport customers (remember, it's Bishop), and you expect a greasy burger, soggy fries, and stale chicken fingers.
Surprise! Lo and behold, they serve pad thai, spring rolls, pineapple fried rice, panang curry, basil vegetables, larb. Now I'm of Asian descent but I harken from East Tennessee, so I'm not a Thai food purist. This place may not impress a true Thai food aficionado. But on your drive to Mammoth, this is an unexpected little gem that's worth seeking out. Would it measure up in Thai Town LA (with or without Thai Elvis)? Who cares? You're in the Eastern frickin Sierras! This may be the best Asian food in this windswept valley since they quarantined the Nisei at Manzanar during World War 2!

Smokeyard BBQ in Mammoth Village
Owned by two brothers transplanted from South Africa by way of LA, this Mammoth Village spot is now in its second season and getting stronger. If you just arrived from Carolina, you might snicker a little bit. But everyone else will love it. The smoked artichoke dip and the sweet potato fries are parentheses to the ribs, steak, and tri-tip. My 9 year old daughter, aka Meat-o-saurus, opted for the South African stew last week and loved it. My other daughter, aka Bellyache, was cheerfully served gluten free versions of wings, ribs, etc. Lest anyone forget this is SoCal in the Sierras, there is a salmon entree that seems to be terribly popular with every svelte female wearing the latest Nils or Bogner ski-fur-eskimo-Gorsuch-Victoria Secret-concoction-outfit. They even have a sweet tea based cocktail that might thaw the hearts of the aforementioned Carolina skeptic. Tell the owner Alon (or better yet his charming gf Barbi) to start using genuine Firefly vodka, cause that's how they do it in Charleston.

The Mogul Steakhouse
Don't even bother with Chart House unless you have 2 hours to kill before dinner. Why wait in Mammoth for a place that has a much better view in Malibu, or heck Marina del Rey? The Mogul is family owned and locally staffed. The owner Carey personally greets you and looks like the Senator John Thune from South Dakota. (Seriously. I met the SD dude at a fundraiser recently for Carly Fiorina. John McCain once commented, "If I looked like Senator Thune, I would be President.") His sister is a nurse at a surgery center in Tehachapi. Good people. The best part about the Mogul is that your server is also your cook. No excuses for an overcooked steak. (There is no such thing as an undercooked steak, I will fight you over that.) There is a grill smack dab in the middle of the restaurant. Again, really. (I have no idea how this was approved by the CIty. I guess it's Mammoth, not Montecito, where you can't get a sign approved for your business in less than two months and less than two grand. And a sign can't burn the building down.) They have a man-sized porterhouse consistently, meaning they never tell you, oh we ran out of that. The wine list is short but well-chosen, particularly strong in reasonably priced California Meritage -- perfect accompaniment for your steak. Somehow when you order a $75 bottle of wine here they treat you like you're royalty. I promise you won't get that at Chart House!

Nov 25, 2010
bakersjoe in California

steak in Miami South Beach -- Tuscan, Prime 112, S&W

We are a family of steak fanatics. My 7 year old can down an entire porterhouse -- as long as it's blue rare. I order a porterhouse for two -- and finish it by myself.

Is Prime 112 truly overrated, or are the negative reviews sour grapes?

Is Smith & Wollensky unique enough in this location to be worth a visit?

Is Tuscan the dark horse? It seems to have the most love from chowhounds.

Perhaps Prime 112 is the truest SoBe experience (for better or worse). The last two nights I dined at Joe's Stone Crab and Nobu. I feel like I've done the SoBe experience, thank you very much. Something a little more serene might be in order, especially with the kids in tow tonight. Suggestions?

I would ask the concierge here at the Ritz, but they have the most disappointingly unknowledgeable and useless concierge staff (at least they're friendly) I've ever encountered in any luxury hotel.

Dec 30, 2007
bakersjoe in Florida

"Buffalo" Wings in Bakersfield, preliminary review of new place: Wingspot

TravelinJack, you sound like you have some experience and discernment with cuisine. If you come back to town and crave sushi, may I suggest Miyoshi. It's at the corner of Stockdale Highway and Coffee/Gosford. (The road changes names after crossing Stockdale Hwy -- this seems to be the norm in Bako, don't ask.)

The owner is a trained architect. His attention to decor is actually reflected most in -- get ready for this one -- the men's room. (I'm sure the women's room is nice too, but I haven't peeked.)

This is the best sushi place in Bako, hands down. The owner is paranoid about sushi quality. Service was pathetic when the place first opened a few years ago, but they now have their act together and are effective and welcoming. There is new competition in Bako now (Shogun and Toro), which have fancier decor and big city vibes, but inadequate emphasis on the basics -- i.e. sushi quality.

My wife and I travel a lot (almost every weekend) to LA, SF, and elsewhere. We eat sushi like most people eat bread. We frequent many big city places -- and big price tag places -- and find ourselves comparing them to Miyoshi. Not to imply Miyoshi would be better than, say Matsuhisa or Sasabune or Hide in LA, but it often does compare favorably. There are very few restaurants in Bako that would survive in LA/SF or any other big city. This is one that would have a good chance.

Final tip, try the beef fried rice. Okay, it's not the purist's choice to go with sushi. But hey, it's Bakersfield baby. Nobody judges you on your food choices here. As easy as it can be for some to poke fun at this town (don't eat outside because the manure smell will affect your flavor experience), everyone agrees that the people here are genuinely the nicest you'll ever meet. Why else does an affirmed chowhound continue to reside here?

Apr 29, 2007
bakersjoe in California

San Diego wings, update a year later

See my post last year:

Liars Club in Mission Beach and Aussie's Pub in Pacific Beach were modestly recommended last year.

Any newcomers 'round here that have raised the bar?

As one respondent stated, I am a wings purist. My wife says I'm a wings snob, but I think that is an oxymoron. There's nothing high brow about wings to be snobby about. But there IS a big difference between Buffalo wings done right (do a chowhound search to find any one of my many sermons on this topic) and just another sports bar wing.

P.S. My wife delivered a beautiful baby girl who is now 7 months old. Her wings craving ended after second trimester and was replaced with gestational diabetes (sheer torture for a gluttonous chowhound couple). Plus I'm in this contest at work to lose body fat percentage. It's put a damper on my enthusiasm for wings, hence fewer recent reviews on the topic. But don't worry...
I will never stop trying to find the perfect wing...

Apr 29, 2007
bakersjoe in California

GREAT places btwn LA and MAMMOTH

I've been going to Mammoth at least a half dozen times a year for the last 4 years. Ever open-minded and optimistic, I've experimented with many of the dives along 395. I won't waste everybody's time with an encyclopedic list of all the forgettable eateries. The single place that I go back to is the Ranch House Cafe in Olancha. There's a small sign, and if you blink you'll miss it (I've done it), especially since Olancha is one of the small towns where you actually DON'T have to slow down to 25 mph. It's on the west side of the highway, and parking is right in front.

Now, don't walk in there expecting the Restaurant at Convict Lake or Nevado's. It's down home, casual charm. Red table cloths and old wooden booths. Various taxidermy specimens. A rack of postcards. Basics like ribs, steaks, corn bread, and mochas. No pretensions, just friendly and fast service. I always leave satisfied. With 3 hungry children, I can't emphasize how important the fast service is!

I wouldn't exactly elevate the Ranch House Cafe to a true chowhound destination, but it's the perfect antidote to grumbly tumblies on that long and lonely stretch of Highway 395. Just beware the men's room...

Mar 03, 2007
bakersjoe in California

Uber-Chowhound visits Chicago -- need steak, expectations high

Oops, that's embarassing. Why does my wife find this so amusing?

Okay, let's try again. I'd like the ULTIMATE (archetypal, quintessential*) Chicago steakhouse experience.

*Thanks, MrRisotto.

Oct 26, 2006
bakersjoe in Chicago Area

Uber-Chowhound visits Chicago -- need steak, expectations high

Okay, I'm taking some literary license with the hyperbole. Or I guess it would be more of an intentional understatement (hypo-bole?)

I LOVE the steak experiences at the above-mentioned restaurants. Simply the thought of Luger's, Bern's, and RC in BH induces immediate involuntary salivation in me. Pavlov, eat your heart out.

Oct 26, 2006
bakersjoe in Chicago Area

Uber-Chowhound visits Chicago -- need steak, expectations high

Great suggestions so far, thanks to you all.

Would the responses change if I amended the question slightly? Which place would give me the penultimate "Chicago steakhouse" experience?

Oct 25, 2006
bakersjoe in Chicago Area

Uber-Chowhound visits Chicago -- need steak, expectations high

Steak and wine are canonized in my family. I am as anal-retentive and obsessive-compulsive as they come. I have been disappointed by dozens of steakhouses in NY, LA, SF (yet to find a good one), Atlanta, Phoenix, Texas, Tennessee ...

My favorite cut is the porterhouse. I always ask for -- okay, I demand -- extra rare (blue rare, Pittsburg rare, sushi-like, Hannibal-Lechter-style). I estimate that I average 50% on sending back steaks in restaurants for being overcooked. I'm sure I've ingested more than my fair share of "special sauce" from vindictive cooks and waitstaff.

Acceptable: Peter Luger's in Brooklyn, Bern's in Tampa, Bones in Atlanta, Hitching Post in Santa Barbara, Manny's in Minneapolis, Ruths Chris in Beverly Hills (but no other RC).

Tell me where to go to get the best steak in Chicago, period. If there is no consensus, I will be at the "original Morton's."

I wonder how many nights in a row can you eat steak? Morton's, Gibson's, Chop House, G&G, S&W, Keefer's.

Oh yeah, I don't have to have porterhouse -- if another cut is superior, tell me. But PLEASE don't try to push prime rib!!!! (Do I have to say it? -- it's not steak!)

We non-Chicago folk believe in the legend of the "midwestern corn-fed steak," and we believe Chicago to be the Mecca. My expectations are sky-high. Where do I go?

Oct 22, 2006
bakersjoe in Chicago Area

There are no truly authentic Buffalo wings in California.

Surely you don't think that you truly duplicate Anchor Bar wings just by using their bottled sauce and dressing? I wish it were that easy. Geesh do I wish it were that easy.

I have found other wing variations that are, as you say, "worthy of eating." (If you're ever in Atlanta, try China Cafeteria's Chinese-style wings. Just make sure you go before dark.) But this post is about a specific style of wing, which evidently is found all over Boston and New York and Atlanta, but lacking in LA.

By the way, foie gras is my favorite food. Olives in Aspen and Norma's in midtown Manhattan are the first two places that come to mind on my list of all-time greatest foie gras experiences. But that's food for another post.

Not everybody will be so inspired by the humble Buffalo wing. But clearly many 'hounds do get it, and are passionate about wings made a certain way. To all of you out there, you know what I am talking about. Man cannot live on mole alone...

Oct 07, 2006
bakersjoe in Los Angeles Area

LA to Modesto- highway 5 and 99- recs???

VALENTIEN, in Bakersfield, off Hwy 99
These direction may make it sound complicated, but it's easier than it sounds. In Bakersfield, get off Hwy 99 at the California Ave. exit, turn right and then immediately left onto Oak Street. Turn left at the first intersection onto Truxtun. Pass the flower shop on the corner and take the first right into the parking lot. There's a sign in front of the flower shop. The reastaurant entrance is tucked in the back of a courtyard between the flower shop and the salad buffet place. They have a 3-course lunch for $15, and a wine bar. The attentive servers are clearly proud and knowledgeable about the expertly prepared and tastefully presented New American cuisine. Atmosphere is business casual. Think Wolfgang Puck in Bakersfield.

Oct 01, 2006
bakersjoe in California

Joe's or Lilly's (Abbot Kinney, Venice) for brunch with kids?

You see this is what happens when you have toddlers. I didn't even know Rockenwagner on Main was closed. Haven't tried to go there for a few years. Rockenwager still has a stand at the farmer's market every Sunday, so I assumed the restaurant was still open. Please tell me Chinois on Main is still open. Geesh I need to get a babysitter.

Sep 30, 2006
bakersjoe in Los Angeles Area

Joe's or Lilly's (Abbot Kinney, Venice) for brunch with kids?

Joe's, Lilly's, and Axe are all more laid back and kid friendly than Rockenwagner. I have taken my two rugrats (5 and 2 years old) to all 3 places and felt perfectly comfortable. I love Rockenwagner but would hesitate to take my kids there. Main Street (where Rockenwagner is) is 10-15 years more gentrified than Abbot Kinney. So it looks promising for you this weekend; you can't go wrong on Abbot Kinney.

My two cents:

Joe's is by far the best for food. I strongly recommend reservations, unless you plan to show up at 2 o'clock or something. Absolutely no pretension for a place regarded almost universally as a top ten place in LA for food. Good chance of seeing a B-list actor there, for better or worse. Joe's was packed years before Abbot Kinney was transformed into a retail/restaurant destination.

Lilly's exists mainly because of its location (next to Joe's). The food is decent, and the $10 weekend brunch is an unbeatable value. But a true chowhound goes to Lilly's when reservations at Joe's were forgotten.

Axe is uber-trendy. It will close sooner or later. But you might as well go enjoy the of-the-moment concrete-chic decor while you can.

The good thing about Rockenwagner is that you can walk to Ben and Jerry's afterwards, and a little bribe -- er reward -- for good behavior can go a long way to keeping the kids in line. For the grownup 'hounds, go a little further south on Main to Chocolat for dessert (Belgian chocolates/truffles).

Other places to consider on the Main Street corridor:
*Rose Cafe
*Omelette Parlor
*farmers market (Sunday until about 1PM)
All are kid-friendly and have acceptable food, nothing fantastic. They have pony rides at the farmer's market (...again with the bribe thing)

Sep 30, 2006
bakersjoe in Los Angeles Area

There are no truly authentic Buffalo wings in California.

Heh-heh, you ain't seen nothing yet. If you want rambling, see the link below, where I codify my 6-point evaluation system for Buffalo wings. By the way, it's for your beloved Wingspot, which has a new franchised location. It's mostly thumbs-up.

I don't diasgree with all of you who have posted that you can get good, perhaps even great wings in LA and California. But I'm looking for one specifc style of wing, which I have chosen to call "authentic Buffalo wings." See the reply above by bobbyperu (Sep 8), who gets it. It may seem like I'm being snobby or wordy or anal-retentive or unnecessarily getting my panties in a wad. But here's the deal, my friends: when you really love something, you refuse to lower your STANDARDS. That's what being a chowhound is all about, wouldn't you agree?

Sep 30, 2006
bakersjoe in Los Angeles Area

There are no truly authentic Buffalo wings in California.

Thanks hungrymungry for the vote of agreement regarding my title

Bits and pieces...

I agree mostly with hungrymungry. I went back to Ye Rustic hoping for confirmation and came away disappointed. The wings were under-fried. Now I did not ask for extra-fried, but I feel if a place wished to establish itself as a great wing establishment, it should do it right every time. Granted I don't think Ye Rustic has those aspirations. Those of you that have been there know what I mean.

Agree with you too about Hoagies n' Wings and Hot Wings Cafe.

Disagree vehemently about ranch/bleu cheese. Normally I agree with you that bleu cheese is nasty. But with Buffalo wings it's the only way to go. The Buffalo wing sauce is already very sour and acidic. You need the more creamy and alkaline essence of bleu cheese to complement Buffalo wing sauce. I personally cannot fathom eating a Three Mile Island wing or Crazy Hot wing or Atomic wing without bleu cheese. I never eat bleu cheese with anything else. For example, potato wedges are much better with ranch, because the tartness of ranch creates more palate interest than bland old potatoes. They make ranch flavored potato chips, not bleu cheese potato chips.

I'm not at all surprised that Boca Raton has "better" (in the sense of being more authentic) wings and pizza than LA. Boca is basically a bunch of yankee retirees/snowbirds living in Florida, so the wing and pizza recipes have been successfully imported. Doesn't it seem that if the proper recipe can be imported to Boston, Atlanta, and south Florida, that it should be possible in LA? How many yankee transplants are now in LA?

If you opened a Buffalo wing place in Hollywood, what would you call it? (Buffalo Wing Nazi?) Some day perhaps I will open one. I promise not to use bottled bleu cheese.

Sep 30, 2006
bakersjoe in Los Angeles Area

"Buffalo" Wings in Bakersfield, preliminary review of new place: Wingspot

Check out this response to my post regarding wings in California, giving Wingspot in LA a thumbs up.
See DiveFan's reply earlier today.

Sep 30, 2006
bakersjoe in California

"Buffalo" Wings in Bakersfield, preliminary review of new place: Wingspot

I went to the newly reopened and renovated Little Italy about a week ago. Nice murals in the room which used to be Subway. Unfortunately the praise ends there. I don't want to turn this into a whine forum, but let's just say that I'd rather have Mama Tosca's or Uricchio's or Frugatti's, or even pasta night at Seven Oaks. Perhaps I'll try the tiramisu one night for dessert, based on your recommendation. It can't be worse than Mama Tosca's.

Sep 30, 2006
bakersjoe in California

"Buffalo" Wings in Bakersfield, preliminary review of new place: Wingspot

Probably the best San Francisco-Gary Danko-Michael Mina-esque (food wise) offering available in Bako. Expertly prepared dishes with interesting ingredients are consistently reliable, and the servers clearly take pride in what they do. Alas the decor is somewhat sophomoric, and the location is awkward. Perhaps the lowered expectations raises the satisfaction levels with the food and service (although I like to imagine myself more objective than that.) Overall, a worthy chowhound oasis in a desert of mediocrity.

Mama Tosca's:
A string of disappointments has left me with little good to say about this Italian. I ordered the chateaubriand-for-two extra rare (Pittsburg rare, blue rare, etc.) and got medium. When I told the waitress, she said "oh sorry," and then turned and walked away without offering to re-do it correctly. Then I tried the place just for desserts, and the tiramisu tasted like thawed Trader Joes stuff. All the entrees have the same mashed potatoes and steamed veggies on the side. This place is perpetually packed with locals presumably enjoying the urban ambience and pleasant Marketplace location, overlooking overpriced, uninventive food. Style over substance, frills over finesse.

A downtown Italian spot where many business lunches happen. Well-established with a loyal local following. For anyone expecting an experience like Valentino or Locanda Veneta in LA, you will be disappointed. But it's always a satisfying meal.
A few years ago, there was an offshoot second Uricchio's location in SW Bako (corner of Gosford and Stockdale Hwy), that had a nice bistro-type atmosphere. Unfortunately it sunk faster than the Boston Red Sox in August. Fortunately it has been replaced by the only reliable sushi bar in town (Miyoshi). Maybe I'll review sushi bars in the future. It's a short list.

I haven't been to the other four restaurants you named.

Here are a few suggestions. None of these restaurants would, in my opinion, merit high critical acclaim from a true chowhound. But these are the places that reflect the local experience:

Flame and Skewers (downtown between 23rd and 24th Streets, next to Starbucks and New City Cleaners) - mediterranean takeout, no alcohol

24th Street Cafe (downtown, across from a furniture store with a yellow and blue sign) - pretty good breakfast in this country diner (they have fried green tomatoes!)

Sequoia Sandwich Shop (downtown at 18th and L) - Try the Waldorf chicken salad sandwich and macaroni salad at this lunch mecca. NW and SW locations as well.

John's Burger (Oak Street, just south of California) - Try the HUGE breakfast burrito. You can get it with bacon or sausage, but I highly recommend the CHORIZO breakfast burrito. Use the drive through. I can honestly say this is the only food item I have found in Bako that I have not been able to find better somewhere else. Take for example Joe's on Abbot Kinney in Venice, one of the best and most consistent restaurants in LA, where I've never had a bad dish and don't know anyone who has. One time I tried Joe's breakfast burrito. I found myself wishing out loud that I was having a John's Burger burrito! Shocking! Forget your diet (and all thoughts of eating again for about 12 hours) and indulge!

Sep 17, 2006
bakersjoe in California

"Buffalo" Wings in Bakersfield, preliminary review of new place: Wingspot

Thanks for the feedback, rworange! See below for my update.

My wife is due in 2 weeks. Someone said a third baby delivers fast, like stepping on a watermelon seed. So I guess it could be any day now.

I've been in Bako for over 6 years. The Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese places here are very disappointing when you relocate here from LA or SF. Here's an example: I went into a Chinese fast-food joint the first week I was here -- you know where they have about a dozen or so dishes ready to scoop into a styrofoam box in a "combo A" with fried rice and an egg roll -- and on the wall were plaques that read "Voted Best of Bakersfield Chinese Restaurants 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000." I just hung my head. Luckily Monterey Park is only a 2 hour drive.

Went back to Wingspot recently with the family.

First, they are very friendly when you dine in. It turns out they are a franchise and have many other locations in the LA area. Strange they seem to be completely under the radar, with no mention in chowhound, no matches on google.

Revised critique:
(1) WING SIZE: no change (consistent and slightly small)
(2) DRUM/WING RATIO: no change (perfect)
(3) COOKING/TEXTURE: big improvement! I thought about asking for extra-frying, but I didn't -- I just wanted to see what they would do. My faith was rewarded, they were fried just right.
(4) FLAVOR/SAUCE: improvement. The Original Hot has the right level of spice. The Atomic wings were actually too hot. Both the Atomic and the Cajun wings had a very good flavor, but departed from the true Buffalo wing category.
(5) DRESSING: no change (oustanding taste). But you have to pay extra! The bleu cheese balanced well with the Original Hot wings. You couldn't taste anything else with the Atomic wings.
(6) SIDES: You have to order them separately too, that's why we didn't get any last time.

In summary, this was a much better experience. A great addition to Bako dining options. Will order at work again soon and see if the others feel the same way. From now on, I will order the Original Hot wings and try to forget that I have to pay extra for bleu cheese and celery. If the wings were slightly larger, they'd be perfect. I'll have to order them take-out next time, because they don't sell beer. Drinking root beer with wings is not quite right, like say... putting a bumper sticker on a Ferrari.

Sep 17, 2006
bakersjoe in California

"Buffalo" Wings in Bakersfield, preliminary review of new place: Wingspot

Located on Gosford, just north of White Lane in a strip mall of course. (For those unfamiliar with Bakersfield, all we have is strip malls.)

FIrst of all, I want to clarify that I have never set foot in this place. We ordered from them for lunch where I work. We are a group of close co-workers who order lunch together several times a month. Everyone seemed to have an opinion on the wings, and it is telling to note the backgrounds of the various commentators:
black guy from Montana
white guy from San Francisco
Chinese guy from Tennessee/Atlanta/LA (me)
Egyptian guy from LA
white girl from Napa

Second, let's put this in context. Bakersfield, while a great place to live, work, and raise a family, is chowhound purgatory. Other than Basque food, don't expect world class standards for food experiences. The attitude around town, is "we're lucky to have decent (fill in the blank) food here."

This is part of my ongoing California Buffalo Wings Quest:

Let's go...

Hint: don't try to ask for delivery. The first time we tried to order, they were so rude on the phone, the black guy wondered out loud whether they were racist. Unfortunately (fortunately?), the white guy had the same experience on a different day.

So somebody had to go pick them up. We were told the wing options by cellphone. I cannot remember them accurately, because I dismiss anything that sounds like Hawaiian barbeque wings or whatever. When I heard "atomic" I said yes 50 of those will do.

(1) WING SIZE: slightly on the small side, but consistent. White guy thought they were too small. Black guy thought they were good.
(2) DRUM/WING RATIO: perfect 50/50.
(3) COOKING/TEXTURE: All the men agreed that the skin was under-fried and soggy. The meat texture was good, no overcooking. Of course when you under-fry, you are less likely to overcook.
(4) FLAVOR/SAUCE: Excellent. Somehow we didn't get atomic, we got mild (service error), so they were not nearly hot enough (Egyptian guy complained vociferously). Even though they weren't that hot, they had the strong sinus-filling aroma, yet without relying too heavily on garlic. It's hard to balance good taste and minimal aftertaste, but they executed superbly in this regard.
(5) DRESSING: The bleu cheese sauce was outstanding! Good texture, with a few chunks. Flavor was perfectly in balance with the mild wings. I consider ranch sauce inappropriate foil for authentic Buffalo wings, which are already sour, but it was offered. I was the only one who wanted bleu cheese.
(6) SIDES: No celery was received. Was this another service error or a flaw in the menu?

I will have to return for the confirmatory experience. Questions to clarify:
(1) Can you get extra-fried wings? (And get them without overcooked meat?
)(2) Will "atomic" wings be hot enough without aftertaste overkill?
(3) Will the bleu cheese balance properly with the "atomic" taste?
(3) Is celery available?

In summary, they were enjoyable "Buffalo" wings flavored with some finesse. Overall, the minor elements were above average, especially the bleu cheese dressing. But the fatal flaw was the under-frying. Eating a well-flavored Buffalo wing with mushy skin is like sitting in a Ferrari with no engine. A good experience but kind of hollow.

Napa girl liked her wings that way though - mushy and mild, with ranch dressing. (Exactly my complaint about the typical California wing. Evidently you native Californians prefer your "Buffalo" wings this way. I'd call them Cal-Buffalo wings.) If she could only hear the Ferrari engine growl...

Sep 02, 2006
bakersjoe in California