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Duff's wings...not quite duds

Went to Duff's yesterday on a wing-whim. Ordered the combo 1 (20 wings, large fries, celery and dipping sauce, small pitcher of pop) for $24.

I ordered my wings medium hot (which Duff's proclaim "very hot") and hubby wussed out and ordered the medium mild (which would equate, again in Duff's standards) to medium.

Good, large, meaty wings arrived. Just don't inhale as you bring them to your mouth or the sheer overpowering vinegar will send you in to a coughing fit. The wings were tasty enough, but VERY vinegary. I THINK that the wings were hot spice-wise, but I couldn't be sure because of all the vinegar. Not sure if I'd go back for the wings.

Fries were out-of-the-fryer hot and crisp. A large is actually a large salad bowls worth...way too much for two people with hearty appetites. The dill sauce and blue cheese sauce was a nice accompaniment for the very crisp and fresh celery served. Pop pitcher was quite small, only yielding two drinks.

The service was awesome. Very attentive, and helpful.

That being said, not quite sure I'd return. Wouldn't take much twisting of the arms if a group wanted to go there though, so it wasn't too bad.

Also, it was a Monday and the place was heaving. Despite that, there were plenty of servers and a nice "busy" atmosphere.

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  1. Duff's is not bad, but having just gone to Anchor Bar for the first time this past weekend, I have to admit that they are now the standard which I shall judge all other wings by. I am with you in not liking that powerful, cough-inducing whiff of vinegar... It's not hard to duplicate the Anchor Bar wings (I've done it at home) - why is it that nobody in Toronto comes even close?

    15 Replies
    1. re: redearth

      Please don't compare original Buffalo wings to what we get here in T.O, that is just not intelligent!! There is a reason they are famous for their wings in Buffalo. As for the best wings in T.O, Duff's is the best around; try the spicy bbq as it is great and the closest you can get to Anchor Bar's version. As for you duplicating the A.B's wings, I find that very hard to believe!!

        1. re: callitasicit

          the only way you can say Duff is the best around, if you like vinegar. otherwise not even close

          1. re: galambo

            I loooooooove vinegar! Wicked...and this place rocks. I love Duffs! I love Duffs!

          2. re: callitasicit

            I have to disagree with you on Duff's. Their wings "were" good, but hardly the best unless you have tried every single places. I went to the Buffalo Wings Fest last month(in Buffalo) and I tried Anchor Bar's wings too. If you were in the fest, you would know that even Anchor Bar's wings are so-so.

            It is only fair to compare the wings plain without sauce first, then try again with the same type of sauce(eg, medium, hot, etc.) Duff's wings are a bit dry with the skin without sauce and their "hot" sauce is more like sour sauce. Way too much vinegar. There is almost no flavor to it beside sour taste with all the vinegar they put in.

            If you REALLY REALLY like vinegar wings, dig in. Otherwise, I would go for The Lion & Dragon Pub and Wild Wing(in Barrie, not sure about other chain.) Lion & Dragon Pub might not be well known. But this is a hidden gem in Pickering which makes me go all the time even though I don't live near the area. Did I mention they have generous portion too? Big, juicy, fresh wings and flavorful sauces.

            1. re: oishiBear

              I am curious, which wing joint in Buffalo did you think had the best wings. I went down to Buffalo a couple of weeks ago and found Anchor Bar to be just subpar.

              1. re: callitasicit

                Sadly the best that I tried is not located in Buffalo. They are from the south in Florida. They are called Hurricane Grill and Wings. Fiddle Inn is from PA. And another one called World of Wings(WOW), however they are franchises all over the states so I am not sure if they can keep their standard everywhere.

                1. re: oishiBear

                  Hurricane's used to have two locations (at least) that I knew of in Toronto and Windsor.

              2. re: oishiBear

                Yes I would have to agree with you oishiBear. I used to think Duff wings were good until I went to the Buffalo Wings Fest last month (hey! maybe I saw you there?!).
                Duff's wings are good when compared to the regular chain places in Toronto or if you like 'vinegar' wings. However Duff's seems to have gone downhill? I have friends who have tried it years ago and raved about it but recently went back and don't think it's the same.
                I have tried many wing places and I also compare the wings plain without the sauce first and then again with the sauce (in my case, I compare honey garlic at the various restaurants)
                I recently tried the wings at Lion and the Dragon Pub and it's a definite must try for the wing connoisseur! Their wings are big, hot, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside... and they have a special all-you-can-eat wings/ribs.

                  1. re: hungryabbey

                    The Lion & Dragon Pub - 1163 Kingston Road, Pickering, ON

                    Their special all-you-can-eat wings/ribs is on all the time. The portions are so big that it's even hard to finish the first round.

                    1. re: yummyPiggy

                      haha sounds good. whats the atmosphere like? My grandmother just moved into a retirement home in pickering and we're always looking for inexpensive, casual spots to take her for a lunch or quick dinner. Would it be too dodgy?

                      1. re: hungryabbey

                        It's a casual pub with friendly service. There are families, couples and younger people who would go. There are also darts players who gather there playing darts regularly.

                  2. re: yummyPiggy

                    I don't know.. maybe I did? There were tons of people there during the event. Everyone were so busy enjoying different flavors at different booth. :)

            2. I went to the newest Duff's at College and Bathurst this past weekend with high hopes for the wings. We ordered the poutine (which uses cheese curds, surprisingly) and 20 medium-hot wings (not sure what Duff's classifies them as). I think my kidneys failed. It wasn't the vinegar that killed me... I couldn't believe the amount of salt in the sauce!!! I ate about 5 of the wings and I couldn't stomach it anymore and I ordered a 750mL bottle of water to flush it out of my system. Seriously, there is no need for anything to be that salty. None.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Juniper

                Agree whole-heartedly about the vinegar sauce at Duff's

                Always more a St Loius fan. Smaller wings but much tastier in IMO.

                Dont want to start another wing debate.

              2. Personally, I love them. I still remember when I was a kid my family would take day trips to Buffalo, and we'd always end the day with dinner at Duff's. I can understand why some people don't like them (they are definitely quite pungent), but as far as I'm concerned they are the real mccoy, and I was thrilled to hear thatthey were coming to Toronto. As a side note, the uh... aftermath is not so pleasant. But is it worth it? You bet!

                Anyone have a recipe to make Duff's buffalo wings? I'd love to make some at home!

                5 Replies
                1. re: spiffy_dude

                  Well, I've made wings that pretty much duplicate the Anchor Bar's wings, and I think Duff's are similar - deep fry them until crispy and golden, then toss them in a combo of Frank's Red Hot and melted butter (although I think that Anchor Bar uses margarine). I achieve a uniform consistency by starting with the Red Hot sauce (say, 1/2 cup) in a food processor, then gradually adding the melted butter (about 1/3 cup) until it's incorporated. While this makes for a delicious sauce, it doesn't allow for varying levels of heat, like Duff's has. Increasing the Red Hot sauce content will increase the heat a little bit, but not a lot... Anybody have an opinion on the sort of hot sauce Duff's uses?

                  1. re: redearth

                    I'll have to give that a shot. I think I'll also ask in the Home Cooking forum.

                    1. re: redearth

                      Most places use Frank's, I think. Used to be Durkees. For a lower fat version, we usually bake the wings until crispy, then toss in a hot sauce, butter, lemon juice mixture. Not quite authentic, but good.

                      1. re: redearth

                        I don't like any of the Duff's sauces that I've tried, so I haven't attempted to duplicate any, but the Anchor Bar sauce is easy. The above recipe works beautifully.

                        You may like it better if you use softened butter and then allow it to cool a bit. This isn't authentic, but it adheres better to the wings. To make it spicier, I add some Tabasco to taste. (Or you can go all the way by adding a few drops of a habanero sauce.) There's an "extra spicy" version of Franks, but I find that adding Tabasco or something hotter to the regular Frank's makes it spicier without changing the basic flavour.

                        For the easiest approach, you can get the Anchor Bar sauce in Toronto. I've seen it in several high end stores and, I believe, in some larger Dominions.

                        1. re: embee

                          I agree... all the hype about Duffs is just that. They make half-decent buffalo-style wings which are not half as good as virtually any wing or pizza-place in western New York.
                          Always overcooked and stringy, WAY too much sauce that forces me to leave the last few wings,drowned and water-logged, behind.
                          Plus miserable service with a rush-rush-rush attitude, even when it's not wing-night and the place is half-full.
                          Decent, yes.
                          Amazing, no.
                          I'm still looking for great buffalo wings in TO, and enjoying my regular pilgrimage to Buffalo, Niagara Falls NY, Corning, etc.

                    2. Something has gone awry with this place. I used to swear by their wings but no longer. today I stopped by and I WAs shocked when I received a bowl of soggy ( not crispy) wings in a water drenched sauce.

                      The wings are either not cooked long enough or they are now using frozen....

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Spiboy

                        feel the exact same way. went to college st location last week and had to complain about our order. the wings were not hot and crispy, they were soggy and room temperature.

                        1. re: Spiboy

                          Yes, I had bad wing in there a few months ago ....

                        2. Never had Duffs have always wanted to try them as my quest for the perfect CONSISTENT wing shop sadly goes unfulfilled, I have been eating wings since the 70"s as my parents had friends from the St Catherines area who got us onto Buffalo Wings. Still the best I have had are mine, deep fry til crispy toss with melted margerine, dash of celery salt BBQ sauce and Franks ( which used to be alot hotter in the ole days) eliminate BBQ sauce if you want. I did find a presidents choice sauce this summer that seemed to have all those flavours already combined and the hot was tangy I think it is called ...ready Buffalo Wing Sauce