Sunday, December 31, 2006

Martinis, Pressed Cloth Napkins, and Wings

Buffalo Wings with creamy blue cheese dressing , $7.25
Perry’s, Union Street

Buffalo wings at Perry's San FranciscoAh… Union Street. Twinkling lights, gelled hair, and perky breasts in tight sweaters. When The Nibbler needs to feel sophisticated, he heads north for some window shopping, and never hesitates to stop into Perry’s some Buffalo wings served by a neck-tied waiter.

Buffalo’s own Anchor Bar would be proud. Nothing experimental here, and they do the classic recipe pretty well. A pleasant accoutrement to the dark wood, nostalgic photos, and efficient grown men behind the bar.

Perry’s advantage is spice control. Time and time again, The Nibbler is let down by standard-issue wings that are either childishly sweet (like cheap ketchup) or needlessly punishing in their heat (like an amateur Bloody Mary). Perry’s rich flavor delivers a kick that tingles but never burns.

That said, you navigate a bit too much gristle and fight a bit too much drip (nothing on the shirt, but grease slides down the hand to the wrist). And the sauce, while well balanced, is a bit expected. Fortunately it’s enough to please the crowd: from the well-heeled older couple by the window, to the neighborhood gadfly interrupting people at the bar, to the squeaky-voiced gossip teams in back.

The Nibbler's rankings for Perry's San Francisco
Buffalo wings at Perry's San Francisco

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fulton Flats Make-Over: Awesome Wings against the Odds

Crispy Adobo Wings, $7
Poleng Lounge, Fulton & Masonic

Adobo chicken wings at Poleng Lounge San FranciscoIt was bound to happen. Dumpy hip hop club Storyville has been reincarnated as Poleng Lounge. Almost all the bases are covered: communal ottomans, reclaimed-wood tables, dreadlocked DJ, exotic house cocktails and an alluring list of South Asian tapas.

It’s a worthy cover-up, indeed, but as all those nearby renters know,
Western Addition roots can be stubborn. Hmm… Is that duct-taped pipe above me bouncing the halogen spotlight into my eyes? Is that stale beer smell coming from me, or wafting in from the back room? Is the language-challenged waitress looking at me funny because she recognizes me from a Tenderloin massage parlor? Any why am I – of all people – the most stylish unpaid person in the room?

Fortunately they make a damn good – and highly original – plate of wings. Six lightly fried and juicy drumettes with a tangy glaze that tickles the tongue. The sensation is delicate and balanced, a little bit of spice and a little bit of citrus. (I guess that's what
Adobo means?) The meat is clean off the bone, and the skin is sealed but not dry. There’s no dipping sauce, and rightfully so, but an accompanying pickled squash salad provides the kick a spicy traditionalist may be looking for.

The Nibbler's rankings for Poleng Lounge San Francisco