So it's the age-old story: Two boys (this time from Buffalo; purported Wing Capital of the World) get hungry for hometown nosh. So they bring hometown nosh to (this time it's) Kent, OH. It was over 30 years ago that Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery dropped the first Buffalo Wild Wing into the first fryer. BWW (aka, "B-Dubs" by the cognoscenti) is now among the top ten fastest growing casual dining chains in the country. In these days of gloomy economic forecasts (at least by some), that's good news.
Ahhh, think of it: A quiet, intimate little spot, dimly lit, where light and polite nibbles magically appear at your table as candlelight dances playfully across the walls of maple and burgundy-hued chintz. Is that what you're looking for, Bucky? Then keep looking. The Rehoboth Beach Buffalo Wild Wings is edgy and high-energy with upwards of sixty-four (count 'em: 64) televisions of various sizes, including 2 giganticprojectors and two huge plasmas that probably cost as much as a small car; glowing with every sport that could possibly be broadcast on TV. And for this bright, somewhat raucus venue where friendly servers and perky servettes scamper about in sports jerseys, the food is perfectly fine.
You don't have to like sports to eat at B-Dubs -- the TVs are kind of cool all on their own. But you will need a flow chart to order the wings [pictured, right]. There are 5 spice rubs. And 16 sauces. The combinations are virtually endless.
(Those of you who harbor a fear of spice may skip the next couple of sentences.) Of course I always order the hottest sauce. At BWW that's called the "Blazin'". But one of the friendly manager guys intercepted my (second) order of Blazin' and insisted I try the Mango Habanero. Yes it's hot (beware!), but it also has a slightly fruity undertone that is quite delicious, though not cloying or gooey like so many sweet sauces. If you like hot stuff that has a good taste, the Mango Habanero will do the trick. And for the spiceophobes out there, the mild wings pack a soft warmth that is quite satisfying and entirely painless (obviously, when I dine with others, all the hottest sauces are ordered on the side. We chiliheads lead a lonely life, truth be told....).
The appetizer menu has the fairly typical lineup of frozen but well-prepared/presented fare like mozzarella sticks, mini corn dogs, fried pickles, etc. But the nachos do stand out, along with a nice salsa. If you are feeling particularly festive, and your blood is flowing a little too smoothly through your arteries, get the TableGating Sampler: wings of your choice, soft pretzels, queso, spinach artichoke dip and bacon/cheddar stuffed jalapeño bites. Did I mention this is party food?
As you might expect, the hamburgers are also quite good. On our most recent visit, a companion ordered the Nacho Burger [pictured, right]. For 99¢ more, you can surround it with crispy onion rings. Is a description really necessary? I will tell you that the beef is high-quality and the rolls add to the experience by being firm, but not too firm; tenderly cradling their treasures with grace, confidence and aplomb. There are seven basic sandwich platforms upon which to build your own burger with beef or chicken. I suggest you study the menu and take notes.
The little flatbreads/pizzas [pictured, left] are a surprising value-added. Note that Buffalo Wild Wings uses the word "flatbread" which translates to "Looks like a pizza, but don't expect it to be a pizza." We ordered the pepperoni version, and there was an undertone of chili powder. Very mild, in fact, and it grew on us quickly. They are square, and, frankly, kind of cute. Heck, you already ate a pretzel slathered with cheese. Now you're getting picky?
On our last visit, I felt I owed it to you to break out of my rut, so I ordered the Pepper Jack Steak Wrap [pictured, right]. Another pleasant surprise. Chunks of tender beef shared a big flour tortilla with lettuce, pico de gallo and a spicy Ranch. (In case you didn't notice, my one-man crusade against Ranch has failed miserably. I am now One with the Ranch Universe -- just so I have a little Sriracha to give it some personality.)
Boneless wings (breast tenders) [pictured bottom right]also offer the same sauce/rub combinations, as do Popcorn Shrimp. There is an army of sides from which to choose. The Mac & Cheese (pictured with the BYO Burger, left) is creamy and mild. After I took the photo, I mixed in a little Blazin' and all was well with the world.
The honeymoon is not over yet. Buffalo Wild Wings just opened in fall, 2012. I genuinely hope that the extra-friendly managers and servers (all four of our waitrons were perfectly delightful, especially Michelle) keep that extra friendliness. As the B-Dubs franchisor turns its attention to more stores, a facility can sometimes fall into apathy and mediocrity. So far, this has not happened at our relatively new Panera Bread, and I hope it doesn't happen at Buffalo Wild Wings. Rehoboth Beach diners (especially locals) will need more than TVs to keep it a fun place to go, and so far the staff has been delightful.
B-Dubs is at 19930 Lighthouse Plaza Boulevard (where Mill Outlet used to be) and shares that complex with Bill Brown's Jake's Wayback Burgers, the diminutive Wu's Kitchen, and a soon-to-join-them Papa John's. It is VERY kid-friendly, but don't let that turn you off. There is so much action with the music and TVs that effervescent kids just blend into the background.
Buffalo Wild Wings has a huge bar that is lots of fun. Get a cold Blue Moon and pick out whatever sport makes sense to you.
By the way, I always give a restaurant a better "bathrooms" rating if they have one of the new high-velocity hand dryers. BWW offers the Xlerator. It qualifies as a ride at Disney, second only to the Dyson Air Blade. And I took a picture of it. How sad for me.
Being a franchise and part of a fairly large Delaware presence, I suspect BWW will actually stick to their promised hours of 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. 7 days, even in the off-season, but it can't hurt to call 302-727-5946. Check out the full menu here. (L., D., Bar) Price range: Inexpensive.
(Now before you write me an indignant email about the high ratings, please visit the Ratings & Standards section. These grades are not comparisons of one restaurant to another. Of course BWW and Back Porch are not the same! But they both get high ratings because they deliver on what they promise and they do it consistently. Now back away from your email.)