A basket of buffalo wingsThe other night Holly and I were feeling like “being bad” and getting something not on our South Beach diet. As we sat there on the couch, I threw out the idea of going to a new place that opened up near us called “The Wing Basket”. Much to my surprise, Holly took me up on my suggestion and we headed off in hopes of finding a place that “does wings right.” Although buffalo wings are now fairly common, most places don’t prepare them “right” in my book. Sure I can order wings from Dominos, but that doesn’t mean that they are any good and in Domino’s case, they aren’t. Usually there’s something wrong with the sauce, or they’ve prepared the chicken itself poorly – this is especially true when the wings are breaded. I’m sure there are others who prefer their wings breaded, and to each his own, but when I go out for wings I want a nice spicy experience with nothing between me and my chicken. 😛

As Holly and I walked into the restaurant, I could instantly tell that Wing Basket was a chain. Growing up in Louisiana, I’ve been spoiled by family owned restaurants and I try and steer away from chains whenever possible. Having someone local cook up a nice dinner will always be head and shoulders above what a restaurant chain can offer 9 times out of 10. Preferences aside, Holly and I stepped up to the counter to see what was on the menu. Other than a couple of side dishes, the only item on the menu were buffalo wings. That was fine by me and I was rather pleased to see that they were so specialized. Yet wings aren’t the focus on the menu. According to their slogan, “It’s all about the sauce”.

The Sauces
With a slogan like that, I figured it’d be best to sample as many of them as I could. Typically the wings are served coated with sauce, but we asked them to put it on the side so that we could try the whole range of the menu. We started with just two sauces, but we kept going back for more to try different ones. Here’s a run down on the ones that we tried:

» Original – Good but a little mild for my tastes. If you like wings, but find the traditional sauce a bit too spicy, this is the sauce for you.

» Spicy – This is the traditional hot wing sauce that everyone knows and loves. They do it right and it has just the right amount of kick. It’s spicy, but not too spicy.

» TNT – This is a habanero based sauce that is crazy hot. If you like really hot stuff, then you have to give this sauce a try. It has a hint of sweetness, which is due to the habanero pepper, but the punch that pepper packs is hard to ignore.

» Bar-B-Que – When I first saw this on the menu, I thought it was just wrong, but it’s actually quite a good idea. I’m sure there are plenty of people that simply don’t care for hot wings and this gives them a nice alternative. It’s a traditional bar-b-que sauce, that didn’t stand out to me simply because I was in the mood for hot. 🙂

» Kentucky Bourbon Bar-B-Que – This is a sweeter bar-b-que sauce and although it had good flavor, I found it a bit too sweet. But keep in mind that I was in the mood for hot, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt.

» Garlic Parmesan – This was the most unique sauce on the menu, so we had to give it a try. It’s a garlic butter sauce, served with fresh parmesan cheese mixed in. The flavor was good, but I have to say it was almost a bit too much. Having fried chicken with a butter sauce tips the scale to “too rich” for my palette. It’s a good sauce to sample and experiment with though, so if you’re feeling adventurous, give it a try.

The Chicken
Regardless of how great a sauce is, without something tasty to coat, it’s just a waste of good sauce. Rest assured, The Wing Basket knows how to fry up chicken wings. Since we asked for all of our sauces on the side, I ate a few wings plain just so I could sample the chicken by itself. I’m happy to report that even without sauce the wings were great!

On a subsequent visit, I ordered the wings coated with sauce and I have to say that it was a much richer and more potent experience. They coat the wings with just the right amount of sauce and I highly recommend it. However, if you like to play with sauces, you can’t go wrong getting your wings “naked” too. This is now how I order them all the time, because I like the experience of being able to dip into a variety of sauces. Either way you decide to go, you’re going to enjoy some GREAT wings. 🙂

The Sides
Although the primary focus at The Wing Stop is hot wings, they do a have the usual sides that you look for. Celery and carrots with either Blue Cheese, or Ranch dressing to help calm the flames, and of course french fries. We can’t get an order of wings with out some fries to go with the order.

The fries are cut long and then with some of the skin still on them. They are served is a nice pile and when eating them, it’s hard not to just grab 4 or 5 each time you go back for another bite. They offer their french fries with a seasoning that gives them a little kick, but I found it to be a little bit sweet. If you’re only have a few fries, I suppose the seasoning would be fine, but if you’re a bit potato eater like me, you might find the seasoning a bit too sweet as you make your way down to the bottom of the basket.

The Atmosphere
Although you can get your wings to go and eat them in the comfort of your own home, to get the full experience, you really need to eat them in the restaurant. The overall ambiance is very casual. There’s t-shirts hanging on the wall all bearing their slogan “It’s all about the sauce” and all condiments are centrally located next to a capped lead pipe serving as paper towel holder for a huge roll of paper towels. It’s casual, fun, and most importantly clean. The management does an excellent job keeping the dining area spic and span, which is quite a feat when you consider just how messy spicy chicken wings can be.

And speaking of the management, I have to give special attention to how well they treat their customers. You get the impression that the management and staff take pride in their work and that they are genuine when waiting on you. The Wing Basket may be a chain, but it certainly doesn’t feel like one. Every time we’ve eaten there, we’ve always come away with a good experience – translation – we enjoy our dinning experience and look forward to going back again soon.

One thing that the manager, has done on more than one occasion is to honor a coupon and then give it back to you. The first time that he did this, I went to give it back and he said, “No no. You keep it. Use it the next time you come back.” You know what? That’s exactly what I did. I came back a week or so later. In fact, I still have that coupon. 🙂

If you’re in the mood for hot wings, definitely give The Wing Basket a shot. They have everything you look for in a hot wing, without any fuss or hullabaloo. They only serve one thing and they serve it well, so be sure you order plenty. Their slogan says it all, “It’s all about the sauce.”

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars (4 Out Of 5 Stars)

The Wing Basket
5753 Nolensville Pike
Nashville, TN 37211
(615) 832-5400
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