Ever since I heard their grand opening broadcasted on our local radio channel, I bookmarked this one as one to visit. Right in the hub of Robson Street, with convenient and inexpensive parking underground and an elevator ride that brings you right to the door way. Located where causal dining chain “Moxie’s” once hosted, it has been a while since this arena was open and made public for dinner.
The sports bar theme was prevalent from the moment you step into the doorway. The floor, painted and waxed to look like centre ice. Tripled up television flat screens and red cushioned benches made the need to wait tolerable. Though with ample seating available, across three defined spaces, waiting long for a table shouldn’t be an issue. That and judging by the traffic on a Friday night, the restaurant really hasn’t picked up much momentum yet.
The bar is made sportier with framed memorabilia and signed collector’s items. Jerseys pressed, equipment used, and photos captured in history making moments. Most notable was their own Winter Olympic 2010 torch enclosed and protected behind glass. A television visible from every seat and built in to each booth in the lounge ensured you got as much live action sports as you needed. We grabbed such a spacious booth, one of eight. Each divided with high backed cushions and a plexiglass lit with black light. It allowed for some unique and easily edited effects. Quotes, occasions, and cheers looked three dimensional as if they were glowing.
The waitresses were just as sporty, dawning their own uniforms. Capped sleeved baseball-like jerseys for the hostess and tight logo-ed tanks for the waitresses. Each with the restaurant’s name in blue and white. I didn’t see any male staff members on shift tonight, a point I feel was maybe intentional given the direction of their bar? Clearly they were catering to a specific clientele.
The menu deemed that they were “The King Of The Wing”, promising “excellence, quality, and service”, to us, their values guests. With a page dedicated to listing their 200 wing flavours and their two rib options on another shared page. Why the focus on wings and lack there of on ribs? Yet both are equally named in their title. Though they don’t just serve either, they are also well stocked on all your other classic bar favourites. Familiar appetizers like onion rings, in five varieties and five flavours; chicken tenders, nachos, calamari, garlic bread, fish and chips, and sliders. The potato choices are labelled, “Way to go Idaho”. Fries done French, tex-mexed, russets left in skins, and dressed from tzatziki to tomato, with gravy to pulled pork. This trend continued to other common bar entrees like salads, sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs; all just as decorated as their potatoes, similar flavours repeated on different platforms. The new one to the bar scene is their selection of “gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches”, made with artisan sourdough bread and served with a side of fries. Like the others, this too falls under the comfort food category. Your cheese and bread partnered with combinations like bacon and pineapple, guacamole and cherry tomatoes; or filled with crushed tortillas, amongst other things. I was most intrigued by the Brie cheese, cranberries, pecans, and maple syrup combo. Though with a description like that, it isn’t anything I can’t duplicate for myself, at home. I can go on and on on what they had, what I didn’t try, but there is a lot more to cover and a lot more I would have liked to try, and I haven’t even covered the 200 wings.
In theory is great to have so many flavours, it certainly is its own attraction. But realistically you get pretty overwhelmed with it all. 200 flavours of wings and no description for any. You really had to rely on your server for guidance and be prepared to ask for details if not samples. Is “choc full of bees” with honey and/or with chocolate? Is the “Alfredo the crazy Italian” an Italian herbed wing covered in Alfredo sauce? Does “Caesar does Jamaica” have a greater Greek influence than it is jerked? “Bloody caesar”, marinated in a Bloody Caesar cocktail? “Col. Mustard’s honey”, mustard and honey right? Well that was an easy one. Pineapple curry, plum, ranch, creole BBQ; a few were givens. Though more were left unknown, ones I couldn’t even begin to guess at. “Where’s the beef”, weren’t these all suppose to be chicken? “Mild”, mild what? “Montizuma’s revenge”, isn’t that slang for diarrhea? Why would I want that? “Homocide”, now we are getting scary. “Raptor”, “the buds”, You pucker”, “M-Che-D”, “midnight express”, “tsunami”, “oceano”, “dragon kiss” “ocean spray”, and “Kelly man”? I could go on and on… each told me nothing. The more I read, the more I wondered, the more I wondered, the more I wanted the decision making to stop.
They boasted the use of 100% pure canola oil, making their wings trans fat and cholesterol free. I knew the traditional honey garlic would be a must have and something proven good on any occasion, but was forced to rely on our server’s discretion for my second choice. I couldn’t make much sense of the page, even if the wings were arranged with a legend that indicated level of spiciness using easy to decider baseball analogies and clear visuals. For example the pacifier, was for those like myself, ones who can’t take the heat. One baseball for the “tame” minor leagues, two balls for the “medium” juniors, three fireballs for the “hot” farm team, then major leagues, and hard hitters after it. The fireballs become five bombs to symbolize their 5 alarm heat. And the “A-Bombs” and the “H-bombs” signal that you are getting into excruciating pain territory. With “E.L.E”, “extinction level event” warning you that it’s the hottest available, requiring your signature on a waiver before you can order it. All wings also come with a choice of having them “dry”, without their usual breading, also known as “Lord of the wing”. And your choice of sauce in either dill, blue cheese, or ranch. Their “King of the wing” option was having your wings grilled on their own in house BBQ with olive oil and lemon. Prices are based on amount of wings and how many flavours in each order. Each order of wings comes with a large metal bucket for the bones.
“Honey garlic” wings. A staple, good and true. The thick breading made for meatier bites. Sticky and sweet, as l expected and the best dish of the night.
“Cleopatra”, our server’s recommendation for the most popular wing. Like the wing before, and as I requested this was a saucy wing. A wing fully dressed in a garlic and Parmesan sauce. I always say you know it’s good when it messes up your breath. Creamy and salty the first two were the best. Though I soon grew weary of the taste, I found it needed another layer to its one dimensional profile. A taste I couldn’t remedy with a dip in dressing, or else it would have been too dressed too creamy. Honey would have been ideal. Towards the bottom of the basket I was attempting to wipe excess sauce off on to the wax paper. It was here that I was thankful for our sides. A way to cleanse the palette in between decadent bites. Over all interesting, a taste that grows on you. But not as a full order.
1/2 order of “true baby back”, described as “mouth watering and triple glazed”. We choose this one over the only other rib option, the “Bronto beef ribs. Odd that there are only two varieties of ribs at a wings and ribs place. The meat was fall off the bone tender, but the seasonings could have used more work. More spice, more flavour, a little more kick for such juicy pieces. The easiest solution would be to provide a tangy barbecue sauce to dip in to. We choose a side of mashed potatoes and coleslaw instead of fries or their loaded baked potato. I enjoyed the semi mashed potatoes with chunks of peel and loads of butter.
This is the first restaurant I have seen with sponsors. I suppose it falls in line with their sports analogy. After all what is a franchise without sponsors and advertisements? Coca Cola supplied them with red plastic branded drinking cups. LG helped with all the mounted flat screens. And Molson Canadian and McCain offered their beverage on the menu.
During my walk to the washroom I passed by the second seating area. A space with less booths and more free standing tables. It included a private room surrounded by glass, its windows etched with generic athletes playing the sports they love. A secluded room, ideal for large groups and rowdier gatherings. I was intimated to take any pictures as this empty section was where all the waitresses gathered in their leisure. They stood around chatting with one another in between bussing orders and checking in on their guests. I understood the need to pause, but saw it a little unprofessional. Especially as there was a group seated a few feet away. Five women leaning on fixtures, looking at those passing by, and discussing the events of their day.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Already a bustling franchise several locations strong, based out Toronto; I can see this restaurant’s migration West being a success. A new wings centred bar for Vancouverites, and a new sports focused destination for a eager hockey fans. With its only direct competition being “Wings”, it’s all about location, location, location; and they had a good one. In a highly visible street corner, with a strong theme and a solid menu, this is a no brainer. I liked everything they were offering and would definitely go back for more. I just won’t return hungry, we were kept waiting 30 minutes for our meal. Don’t deny your cravings.
ALLSTAR WINGS & RIBS
808 Bute Street, 2nd Floor
Vancouver BC, V6E 1Y4