Listen, I love wings. But do I love them enough to wait in the freezing cold in a line that stretched down an entire block of Greenpoint Avenue? Well, lots of other people do. The line had formed outside Red Star in Greenpoint for the Best Wings in Brooklyn Competition even before the official starting time of 2pm. (I certainly love wings enough to judge them.)
I met my official judge cohorts inside: my good friend Pervaiz Shallwani (contributing editor to The Week), New York Press writer Linnea Covington, Brooklyn Paper editor Gersh Kuntzman and Ultimate Wingman Ryan Hohman, who plans to eat 2,011 wings by the end of the year, when he will presumably also hold the record for Pepto-Bismol consumption.
The winners of this year’s competition?
Bushwick’s Life Cafe! Tender, sizeable wings covered in a smoky, wonderfully complex sauce, these captured most of the judges’ first place votes. It wasn’t a unanimous decision, though; much debate centered around the wings from Life Cafe vs. the ones from Bonnie’s in Park Slope. Bonnie’s has a much more classic Buffalo wing, with a tangy, slightly sweet sauce that make them addictive. I once tried the restaurant’s hottest wings and my face almost melted off… in a good way.
There were a few pleasant surprises amongst the bunch. First was third place winner Super Wings, located in Crown Heights. They won the whole thing last year and it’s not hard to see why: their ginger wings with spicy lava sauce were the best among the more inventive entries in this year’s competition. They were extremely well-balanced and avoided the cloying quality lots of sweet wings tend to have. While it didn’t win anything, Flipster’s from Park Slope really impressed me with their wings. They were breaded and fried for a thick, crunchy crust, almost like miniature pieces of fried chicken, with enough spice for a pleasant, slow burn on the tongue.
Now, I have a pretty big appetite, but this competition almost did me in. Not even the jovial antics of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz could ease my pain, although the endless stream of Brooklyn Lagers certainly helped. Wings finished, I took my overstuffed, slightly tipsy self off into the streets… to check out a new oyster bar on Bedford. It never ends for the committed glutton.