The Wing in Review: Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
After stumbling upon surprisingly delicious Buffalo wings at Texas Roadhouse, Sasso and I decided to try another chain restaurant, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery. Rock Bottom is located on Stewart Street in Boston’s Theater District, an area that used to be known as the Combat Zone. It was a part of town where one could get a bite to eat, some narcotics and a prostitute, after watching Blue Man Group at the Charles Theater. In the last few years however, the shady 7-Eleven moved out and The W Hotel moved in so needless to say, the area has turned around.
Rock Bottom is a chain of restaurants built around their own fully functional microbreweries. The menu could be described as American comfort food with some international twists thrown in to keep it interesting. They offer 6 beers of different styles that are brewed on-site. Between the lagers, ales and “Rotating Dark Beer” there should be something for every beer palate. The clientele on weeknights is young to middle aged professionals out for appetizers and drinks with coworkers, though I’m sure it becomes touristy on the weekends. The room is busy and crowded but not annoyingly so and it is not so loud that you can’t have a conversation either in the bar or restaurant area. Conversation at the Shandeh.com table revolved around two words – Buffalo and wings.
“Rock Bottom Wings” are available in Buffalo and the alternative Honey Chipotle flavors for $9.95. I ordered Buffalo, Sasso stuck with Honey Chipotle and our guest reviewers ordered Buffalo but asked the waitress to make them as hot as possible. The wings were brought out very quickly on real plates with cloth napkins and wet naps. The serving size was impressive (more than a pound), with a small cup of chunky blue cheese sauce and a celery-carrot combo garnish. The wings themselves were medium in size with an acceptable amount of Buffalo sauce.
Rock Bottom’s Buffalo sauce was the most balanced of any that we have reviewed so far. The butter, vinegar and cayenne pepper were all well represented without any one ingredient standing out. They had a clean and classic Buffalo flavor. My only complaint was that the “as hot as possible” sauce tasted like the standard sauce with a few shakes of Tabasco. I can’t count that against them since extra-hot sauce is not on the menu, but Rock Bottom should create a sauce that is hotter while keeping the balanced flavor of the original.
Our first three orders of wings were cooked to perfection – crispy and yet still juicy. The next two orders, while fully cooked, were not crispy and had much less sauce than their predecessors. They were quite a letdown. Had the first three orders of wings been cooked like the last two, this would have been a very different review. (And yes, four of us ordered five plates of wings and fully loaded nachos in two separate rounds. Don’t tell Sasso’s wife…or his Cardiologist.)
Pros: Excellent presentation. Great balance of butter, vinegar and cayenne pepper. Blue cheese sauce was delicious.
Cons: Only one level of heat which was mild-to-medium. Orders were cooked inconsistently.
I recommend Rock Bottom’s Buffalo wings for anyone who wants to get back to the core of what a Buffalo wing should taste like – butter, vinegar and cayenne pepper. As a Buffalo wing enthusiast, I welcome unorthodox sauces with ingredients such as black pepper and honey and I enjoy wings with an uneven ratio of ingredients. Sometimes however, I want to get back to the original flavor, concocted in upstate New York so many years ago. That was my impression of Rock Bottom’s wings; deliciously simple Buffalo wings. Just watch out for that fifth order – it will get you every time.