Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Deep Thoughts About Dick's

Dick’s Wings
474313 E. State Rd. 200
Yulee, FL
Visited July 16

Beer Selection: The usual suspects (you don’t come to Yulee for beer variety).

Food: Outstanding wings.

Like fruit, root canals and movies about gay cowboys, I do everything in my power to avoid chain restaurants. I know they are popular. But I just choose not to participate in America’s love affair with mediocrity.

So let me disclose right up front: Dick’s Wings is a chain.

Sort of.

It’s more of a small constellation of wing and beer joints scattered along the swampy Georgia-Florida line.

So even though this particular Dick’s is located in some non-descript shopping center in Yulee, Florida (the first exit off 95 after you pass the state line), Dick’s tries hard to stand out from the bland, watered-down, lowest common denominator fare served up by the ubiquitous Chili’s and Applebee’s down the road.

Dick’s even takes on the holly grail of national chain wing and beer joints – Hooters. Each waitress sports a T-shirt that says “I prefer Dick’s to Hooters”.


Now, Suit757 has been known to frequent a few Hooters in his time (Oklahoma City is the best, in case you are wondering). I mean what’s not to like? Beer. Wings.


I’m happy to say Dick’s does one of those three much better than Hooters -- the one the matters if you are really hungry.

Dick’s wings are close to poultry perfection.

First of all they claim to come in 365 flavors. You could literally come here every single day for a year and never get the same wing twice.

At least that’s the theory. But it’s way more complicated than that.

The problem is they only list about 24 flavors on the menu. 192 if you multiply that by the eight different types of sauce which range from none to the one that requires you to sign a waver promising not to sue if you die or rupture your large intestine.

I wouldn’t want to try that last one.

One clear way Dick’s stands out from the bland national competition is they actually mean it when the menu says “hot”.

Most national chains label anything on their menu “hot” if it contains salt, pepper and a dash of oregano. There just might be some little old lady out there in Minot, North Dakota who gets upset because her delicate palate was offended by too much spice on her all-you-can-eat riblettes.

So little Miss Prilosec sets the national standard for the menu from Albuquerque to Youngstown.

There’s no lowest common denominator menu at Dick’s. “Mild” has a nice kick. “Hot” is hot. “Swamp Fever” ignites a fire that no amount of $2 Miller Lite pints can extinguish. As for that waiver sauce, you’re on your own, buddy.

So this requires some thought. And you thought you could just roll in here hung over and order some wings and hair of the dog?

No! You have decisions to make.

You have to pick both a sauce with heat and a flavor. Get it?

“I want Hot Caribbean Gold”. Or “I want Mild Mesquite”.

Which brings us to the next problem. Mesquite, one of the best flavors on the menu, isn’t on the menu. You just have to know about it.

Which brings us to the final problem when dining at Dick’s. (I told you this wasn’t going to be easy.)

The menu not only doesn’t list all the flavors, it doesn’t even provide a description of the ones it does list – which must make waitressing here a very difficult job. It can literally take 15 minutes to place an order of wings.

“So…what’s the difference between Caribbean Jerk, Caribbean Gold, Jamaican Jerk, Gold Rush and Smokey Mountain Gold?”

See what I mean?

The poor waitresses do their best, but mine finally just confessed in a swampy North Florida drawl, “I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s goooood.”

“OK. Thanks. Can you bring me another $2 Miller Lite while I offer up a novena to the Patron Saint of Poultry?”

Most of the waitresses look like they won’t even reach legal drinking age until the first term of the Ron Paul administration (that’s 2013 for you folks keeping score at home). So I try to go easy on them.

And it’s easy to be forgiving because I’ve never had a wing flavor/sauce combo thing go wrong at Dick’s. They are all great.

The big, meaty wings are grilled until the chosen seasoning is baked on to a glistening brown. Then the chosen level of spicy sauce is ladled over the top. Simple, yet delicious.

With wings this good and $2 pints of beer all day, every day, a little extra deep thinking makes it all worthwhile.

Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt

Dick's Wings on Urbanspoon

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