555 Shelburne Road, Burlington 489-5083
I am more than a little obsessed with the business of chain food. Nannerpuss and Uncle O' Grimacey are practically my religious patriarchs. If I weren't a food writer, I would want to work in Research and Development at Friendly's. I'm not kidding. Whenever a fast food joint debuts a new product, I'm the first one in line. How could I not pay the same respect at the grand opening of Vermont's first Buffalo Wild Wings?
Just an hour and a half after opening its doors, the place was packed. I scored a two-top right by the bar, with a view of multiple TVs, showing news and sports. There were also several video games peppered throughout the room, and a digital jukebox. No question, the sports memorabilia-bedecked eatery is a grown-up playground.
To keep with the theme, I ordered a basket of mini corn dogs. The "maximum taste" promised by the menu was delivered in spades. The sweet, texturally complex batter wrapped around juicy little dogs. Honey mustard sauce on the side was creamy, and not so saccharine as to overwhelm the kid-like delight of the dish.
For optimal variety in one entrée, I went with the ribs and boneless wings meal (pictured).
There is a reason the restaurant is not called "Buffalo Wild Ribs." The baby-sized bones held swaths of shrivelled, overcooked meat. Bummer. Next time, I'll stick with the wings.
The nuggets of white meat were breaded and lightly coated in Parmesan Garlic sauce, which, somewhat to my surprise, tasted authentically of both pungent cheese and garlic. Fresh herbs gave the sauce even more character.
I was also a fan of the traditional, on-the-bone wings. Fried, but not breaded, I particularly enjoyed those dipped in Mango Habanero sauce. The sweetness soothed my palate as the hot peppers smacked me upside the head. Planning on trying BWW yourself? I'll be there watching the next WWE pay-per-view over plates of cheeseburger slammers and pulled pork-topped BBQ nachos.