Over the next year, I will be traveling to Fort Wayne about once a month to take certification tests for my new job. This gives me an opportunity to seek out and sample the wings in a larger city that many people in the 574 area visit.
If anyone has a favorite place to eat wings in Fort Wayne, feel free to email me or leave a comment on the Taste These Broken Wings Facebook page.
I used this first opportunity to head to a restaurant that used to have a location in the Michiana area, Smokey Bones.
When it comes to my favorite bar food, ribs rank right up there with wings. The big difference I’ve found is that, like pizza, even when wings are cooked and served badly, they still taste pretty good.
Ribs, on the other hand, can be the most succulent, juicy, tender, meat to ever fall off a bone when cooked right, but the worst, dried out, tough, grizzly, piece of leather to tear off with your teeth when done wrong.
Most of the ribs I had eaten during my life were ones that have been done wrong, until my wife and I went to Fort Wayne one weekend to see Jeff Dunham perform at the Coliseum and ended up at Smokey Bones for a meal. She convinced me to share the ribs with her and for the first time in my life I had ribs done right.
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A few years later I found myself at the Smokey Bones in Fort Wayne, 1203 Apple Glen Blvd., again for lunch and didn’t want to fill up on a whole slab of ribs, so I got the wings. They were so good and different — which is why I picked them as the first place in the 260 to visit for this column.
The wings to get here are the smoked wings. To quote the menu, these are “rubbed and slow smoked to double the intense flavor, drizzled with a sweet glaze, dusted with house seasoning.”
They come out almost Spinal Tap black, but don’t let the black fool you. In no way are these wings burnt or have any sort of burnt taste to them.
As far as I can tell, the black color comes from the smoke and house rub they put on the wings. I believe the best culinary description for the color of the wings could be “caramelized.”
The exterior of the wings have a gritty texture and taste sweet, salty and smoky all at the same time. It is similar to the flavoring they put on ribs.
If you have ever had real smoked pulled pork, you will get that one piece that was connected to the outside of the shoulder, covered with all the spices and exposed to the direct heat the whole time while cooking. It looks burnt and is a little hard, but it tastes so sweet with the rest of the tender meat. That is what the exterior of these wings taste like.
The interior of the wings were a little dried out, but it didn’t really matter with all the flavoring you get with the skin. And unlike ribs, chicken isn’t that much worse if it is overcooked.
There wasn’t any heat to these wings, so I would give them a 1 out of 4 on the heat scale. You can order regular chicken wings that would be hotter than these smoked wings, but I wouldn’t bother with them, as you can get those anywhere.
The price is really high here. Eight for $10 gives a 125 cent CPU. I know rib meat is priced high, but this is just chicken. If they have a day where they give a deal on these, it would be well worth it.
There is always a danger of getting food at a national chain restaurant, as they may not serve the freshest or best quality. I didn’t go into the kitchen to see if the wings were really “slow smoked” or if the whole thing was pre-packaged to serve up quickly for people who are mostly there to eat ribs and drink beer.
But, these smoked wings tasted really good and give a different take to eating chicken wings. It’s still not the best place I’ve eaten smoked chicken wings, but I can say, “Well done, Smoky Bones…well done!”