Shame on me. It has been a while since I brought the boys out for a review. I had a Sunday afternoon free and was so sick of all the turkey concoctions from this week that I welcomed an hour-long getaway from what Lucas, Graham and I call the Testosterdome.
It’s important that we get out and see the world, experience things from our hunter/gatherer perspective, and learn about football and chicken wings. While Graham still couldn’t care less for the sport, Lucas is entering his first year of really paying attention to the game, so much so that he treats what I consider meaningless contests between teams I don’t even know the quarterbacks’ names in the same way I would a Saints Super Bowl. We can flip a coin over non-Manning AFC battles, but by the end of a game we may be cheering and doing chest bumps over a Browns versus Jaguars match.
Though I admire Lucas’ excitement, I also appreciate Graham sticking to his guns about how he hates watching football and would rather play video games on the big TV. But both of these budding gentlemen were happy when I said we were going to Island Wing Company with mom.
This would be my second visit to Dauphin Street’s IWC. The place opened just in time for football season in the former Ruby Tuesday’s building in MiMo, and carries a similar menu to its sister IWCs in Auburn, Gulf Shores, Destin and the “coming soon” Tallahassee. There are jerk items, Caribbean shrimp, fish tacos, a bevy of burgers and of course, as the name suggests, wings.
What sets them apart from other chicken wing purveyors is that the wings are baked, but they totally taste as if they are fried. Even their website sports the slogan, “Get Baked!” Not even the fries are fried. They are oven baked. There’s not a fryer in the place. I guess the idea is that there must be some sort of health benefit to “getting baked” as opposed to “getting fried.” That’s an argument for another article.
So there we sit this past Sunday, in a booth with our own television and our own remote control. I immediately turn to the Saints game as my 4-year-old button pusher asks why we can’t watch basketball instead. He’s about to learn what a “time out” is. But he’s settling down as he finds pink lemonade and a cheese quesadilla ($5.95). This dish is from the kids menu and comes with a sizable bowl of steamed broccoli, zucchini and yellow squash, and to his credit he did indulge in the latter. Penalty averted.
The waitress goes on and on about cheeseburger nachos ($12.95). Even the waitress serving the table next to us was bragging about them. At the very least we had to try them. I was taken aback when I saw the monstrosity that came. This gigantic platter set before us began with a bed of multi-colored tortilla chips smothered in cheese. Shredded lettuce was the second layer. Tomatoes and a ton of pickle chips sprinkled the outer layer and were dressed with special sauce. Think of it as Thousand Island or Big Mac sauce.
At the apex was an 8 oz. hamburger patty chopped into pieces. It sounds impressive. It was not my favorite. I couldn’t get the tastes of Thousand Island dressing out of my mouth for a day. The lettuce and pickles were a little much. But I did find myself going back to them over and over. Maybe order this with the sauce on the side for better results.
They have an impressive macaroni and cheese menu five dishes deep. Lucas couldn’t resist the Mac Daddy ($8.95). Cavatappi noodles with cheese and bacon made this dish a knockout.
Missy isn’t a fan of wings so she indulged in the Caribbean Shrimp ($14.95). A dozen jerk shrimp were atop “reggae rice” with red and green bell peppers, a nice amount of soft onions and a small amount of pineapple. The mystery was their homemade “magic sauce,” which did create an island feel but was a little rich. The whole dish was slightly over-seasoned with what I am guessing was the dry jerk rub, also found on the rim of the plate for decoration. It wasn’t totally offensive, but I won’t be coming back for it. Maybe fish tacos next time.
Of course I am the wing man. I’d love to be able to speak on many of the sauces they have, dry and wet, but we had so much food I stuck to only one. I figured my outing should be focused on the middle of the heat scale so I chose Sriracha (dry). The result was a very doable order of seven traditional wings ($7.95) and I can’t complain. They do have the fried feel, and I’d love to witness the technique. I have a couple of tricks at home for when I don’t want to cover the house in grease on game day, but I am always looking for a new path. Celery, carrots and bleu cheese came free of charge.
Here’s the skinny. IWC is in a tough division when it comes to wings. Truth is Mobile has so many homegrown wing places that blow me away. To compete with these guys would be a gutsy endeavor. So where does this put them? Perhaps competing with some of the larger chains is where they could do well. They do offer boneless wings and have around 25 flavors by my count including oddballs like PB&J, Chipotle Cheddar Rub, Orange Ginger and Firecracker Citrus. This could be where they excel.
The service was, if anything, overly attentive, and the prices are very competitive. It’s so much food. I think Lucas is the only one who finished his meal, but the flip side of the praise is that the macaroni was the best dish of the afternoon.
Approach this from the standpoint of it being a franchise and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Think of it as a mom and pop and you’ll be less enthused.
Island Wing Company
2617 Dauphin St.
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