Monday, August 25, 2014

Pillars Lakewood Wing Crawl 2014

What a weekend! In some ways, it went by too quickly. Saturday is an example of that, because we spent eight hours crawling through Lakewood eating chicken wings. I'm talking about the 9th annual Pillars of Lakewood Wing Crawl. This "Best Wings in Lakewood Contest" had 11 restaurants/bars slinging chicken wings from 1-7pm as hundreds of people walked up and down Detroit Avenue (a free shuttle service was also available).
The list included:
Around the Corner
Bobby O's
Booths Tavern
Humble Wine Bar
Harry Buffalo
Merry Arts
Plank Road Tavern
Quaker Steak & Lube

I had agreed to act as one of the official judges for the contest, tasked with taking at least one bite of each kind from each place. The participating restaurants/bars had to serve one "Buffalo" and one "Open" (or chef's choice) wing. Your ticket got you two of each at each stop. Early on, "R" and I were just splitting one order of four at each place, and I quickly moved to just taking one bite of each. But, it was still a lot of chicken wings!
I've never seen so many wings in my life.
I loved that it brought us to places that we haven't been to before, like Plank Road Tavern and Merry Arts Pub & Grille.
Quaker Steak won for best presentation of the wing station, which included extra sauce, vegetables for dipping, blue cheese and ranch dipping sauces, crazy straws, candy and...wet naps. Why were they the only place with wet naps during this sticky, messy, saucy wing crawl?!?
It should be mandatory, and they were very much appreciated. I've never washed my hands so many times in one day before.

It was fun to see restaurants/bars participating that don't usually sell chicken wings. Deagan at Humble Wine Bar was trying his hand at chicken wings by baking them in their pizza oven. I heard from other crawlers that some of the wings there didn't hold their crispness, but mine did, and the Garlic Parmesan wings in the "Open" category should be perfected and kept on the menu. They won best wing in that category, for me, based on the flavor. But, I'm a garlic-lover.
There were beers had along the way.
Chicken wings and beer just go together like peanut butter and jelly.

We had a great day crawling through Lakewood. There were only a few really bad wings, like Vosh (tiny and dry) and Bobby O's (meaty and crispy, but served in crock pots with bottled sauces).

Here is how I voted:

Best Buffalo-
1. Riverwood
2. Booths Tavern
3. Around the Corner

Best Open-
1. Humble- Garlic Parmesan
2. Merry Arts- Jamaican Jerk
3. Plank Road Tavern- Asian Sesame

So, who has your favorite chicken wing around? Here is the list of official winners, both People's Choice and Judge's Choice. Every participant was encouraged to vote, and had a chance of winning a Great Lakes Brewing Co. package.

Have you attended this event before? Would you? For $20, I think it was a deal, and a fun way to spend the day. However, it will be a very long time before I want to see a chicken wing again.

Disclosure: I was provided with two passes to the event and a T-shirt, in exchange for acting as an official judge. I was not asked to blog about this event. All opinions stated are 100% my own.