Now that I have your attention, here is how we are breaking it down: each restaurant is judged on five categories, worth five points each. They are atmosphere, chicken meatiness, wing temperature, flavour and service. Bonus points are awarded for wait time, presentation, variety, sides, texture and price, worth one point each. We're also keeping track of comments, because this is Huntsville and funny shit can often come out of nowhere in places like these.
We're going to work our way geographically from Dwight to Utterson. Our first subject: The Cookhouse Saloon. This place has been recommended as the 'hidden honey-hole' chicken wing joint in Huntsville, and it did not disappoint. In fact, I feel bad to be blogging this first since it has already blown all future competition out of the water. So, without further ado, your 2011 Wing Review Champion.
I apologize in advance for the quality of these pics. The lighting in this place is perfect for a wing joint but not so much for an iPhone without a flash. Grainy and spotted pics, just like my memories of most weekends.
When we arrived at The Cookhouse, we were over an hour late. Unfortunately, Nick showed up on time, so by the time we sat down he was already getting his wings. 10 wings that could have been individually served as a chicken breast on most families dinner plates. The chickens that The Cookhouse have contained somewhere must have an IV drip of mutating ooze with TGI written on the canister. As Cory so eloquently commented, the "wings are as big as a baby's arm". And a fat baby, at that.
The usual order at our usual wing joint is 20 each. This has become the norm and it's not very difficult to take these down, then head to McDonald's for a McNugget night cap. This place is different. Not only are the wings cheaper ($.39 each!), 10 of the things will satisfy the void. I'm sure we all could have taken down the 20 we each ordered, but at around 12 deep I found myself satisfied and happy to have a big lunch figured out for tomorrow. These wings are big, breaded and fried, tasty and fresh; I do not know what more anyone could ask for. Comments on the wings included: "great crispiness", "perfectly even sauce coverage", and "tasty, hearty wings that hit the spot". You can take that to the chicken wing bank.
With sufficient bone stacks piled in front of each of us, we could relax and take in some of the scenery in this place. The Cookhouse is the quintessential roadhouse. With "sweet stuff on the walls" and giant garage doors that open in the summer, the restaurant has that perfect pub in the woods feel that I can't get enough of. Old ski hill signs, beer ads and concert posters litter the walls, along with some old school sports paraphernalia and even a 1970's era snowmobile perched on a platform above the bar. High ceilings and well placed seating prevent any feeling of stuffiness, although we were six of only ten patrons in the bar at the time. A shame, this place is great and deserves more wing night customers. One note: The Cookhouse used to be a gas station - it's best to stay away from the tap water.
Before we left, the cook Mario went behind the bar and started mixing up some secret potion. He looked over at our table and signaled everyone to gather at the bar. Nick quickly said, "get over there, he wants to give you a Mario Mud." Those who weren't driving sauntered over and were greeted with a cup of this mystery cocktail. Before sampling their drinks, one of the local bar flies (an early sixties gentleman with a nose like a fist wearing one of those Toronto Maple Leafs toques that looks like a helmet) began mumbling over and over, "I need to see a note from your MOMMIES!" He was serious, but none of us had notes from our mommies that night so he reluctantly let it go. The boys swigged back their Mario Muds and quickly showed faces of intrigue, but not disgust. A Mario Mud, as we soon found out, consists of the following: Whiskey, Lemon Juice and Tabasco. It's XXX stuff, and only served at The Cookhouse Saloon.
Final breakdown was as follows: Atmosphere was fantastic, but a little drafty and scored a 4.3. Chicken Meatiness will take a condor wing to beat, 5/5. Wing temperature couldn't have been better, 5/5. Flavour was amazing, but somewhat lacked on wings like the dry cajun, 4.3. Service was amazing, our guy was great, but without tits and a nice ass it was hard to give a perfect score, 4.6. Bonus points were racking up, especially with that amazing price, 4.3. Total score: 27.6/25, or 110%. Like I said, this will be hard to beat. Next week's review will be The Bush Co, where everybody knows your truck. Stay tuned you ADD bastards! I need to see a note from your MOMMIES!