First things first, let’s talk about what a Buffalo Chicken Wing (here on referred to as a wing or chicken wing) actually is. It’s basically a flavour. Ya, the wings are some of the largest wings you’ll find but for the most part, it’s about the sauce. Depending on which recipe (or legend) you care to believe there’s as few as 2 ingredients, butter (or margarine) and Franks Hot Sauce. Or as many as this. The wings are separated at the joints (tips discarded) and deep fried naked. They’re then tossed in sauce and served along side celery sticks and blue cheese dip. These wings are meaty, tangy and spicy. A bit salty as well.
In 1946 Louise Duffney opened a tavern in Amherst, New York, outside Buffalo. It wasn’t until 1969 however that she started serving Buffalo’s latest food craze, the chicken wing. While credit for the invention of the chicken wing almost undisputedly goes to the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, there’s little doubt that Duff’s wings now reign supreme.
Living in Toronto a day trip to Buffalo is a pretty simple jaunt for myself and many other residents. Heck people even make the trip simply for chicken wings. This wasn’t lost on twin brothers, Hy and Rob Erlich. They approached Duff’s about opening a Toronto location. A deal was hammered out and in 1998 they opened their first location in the Davisville Village neighbourhood. They’ve gone on to open two more. One near the University of Toronto and the other, not too far from my house in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
Located in a strip mall about a 10 minutes north of the city the newest Duff’s boasts a nice patio and large glass windows on two sides. Inside it’s really rather basic and functional. Wood tables and chairs in the dining room and a small bar where you can wait for take out or a table when it’s busy. Of course, beer and chicken wings are always made much better with sports and the ample TV’s are always showing games or tournaments. Duff’s boasts a pretty well rounded menu so those not interested in the tasty appendages can be satisfied as well.
So anyway, on with the food.
Poutine is a delicacy in Montreal and the Eastern Townships. Fries covered in cheese curd and smothered in gravy. While most purist will tell you you can’t get good poutine outside Montreal that’s simply not true. Duff’s makes a very respectable version.
The Buffalo shrimp are breaded, deep fried crustaceans that are tossed in wing sauce. While the subtle flavour of the shrimp is slightly over powered by the sauce all in all these are very tasty.
The star of the show is of course the chicken wings. As noted in the title and preamble they claim that medium is actually hot. I disagree. I find medium to be medium and hot to be hot. Unlike many places that serve hot wings that barely dampen your nose. These babies will make you sweat and clean out your sinuses all at once. While I love ‘em hot Mrs. Sippi isn’t quite there so we always order medium and then get some hot sauce on the side. This allows me to get my heat fix and satisfy my love of all things saucy. Rather than dipping in hot then blue cheese sauces I mix the two together and then dip the wings in the red and white mess.
The Triple Fudge Chocolate Cake for dessert is a winner too. Not made on site but brought in from a local desert maker. A chocoholic's delight. The ice cream is just of the store bought (whatever is on sale) variety and should probably be upgraded.
So there you have it. What I consider the GTA’s best chicken wings.
You can find Duff’s at any of 3 GTA locations.
View Larger Map
You can also find them on the web.
That’s all for now folks, see ya next time in the food court.