With wings, sports and screens everywhere you turn, the newly opened Buffalo Wild Wings offers much to fill the appetites of ardent sports fans.
A friend of mine raved about the chain's opening in Medford. He has family in Tucson, Ariz., and said he always made a point to visit one of the restaurants when he's in Arizona.
Dining out with
the Mail Tribune
Buffalo Wild Wings
1700 Delta Waters Road Medford
Open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays;
11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays;
and 9 a.m. to midnight Sundays
I knew bringing him along would make for a less-than-impartial companion, but when sampling a new restaurant, I find it helpful to have someone familiar with the menu.
It was information overload as we entered the bustling sports bar and grill at 1700 Delta Waters Road. I couldn't count the number of flat-screen televisions in the facility, but it was well over 35, including 19 in the bar and one in each of the restrooms (or so I was told by our female server). I counted four different ESPN channels on those screens at the time of our visit.
I barely know the rules of most televised sporting events, so I didn't necessarily take to the sports-heavy first impression. I lowered my expectations a bit, resigning myself to a blah evening thinking I stood just outside the restaurant's macho target market.
But first impressions aren't everything. As we seated ourselves in the bar, my friend noticed a shelf full of iPad-sized tablet computers that patrons can borrow. A server handed us one, and we played a challenging trivia game against others in the restaurant. A sports trivia game that we didn't try also was available, as were single-player games that struck me as a way to keep kids occupied without getting parents' iPhones saucy.
For starters, we ordered a basket of the Buffalo Chips fried potato slices ($5.69). My friend asked for them with a side of Southwest Ranch that I otherwise wouldn't have known was available. We also tried an order of the potato wedges ($5.69), which had sour cream and chive flavor baked-in — or more accurately fried-in. Both starters were freshly prepared, and portions were satisfying without being too heavy.
We happened to be there on a Tuesday, which my friend knew was 65-cent wing day. Thursdays mean 65-cent boneless wings. We could choose up to four flavors at the discounted rate, provided we ordered a minimum of four wings per flavor. And there are plenty of options. I counted 16 sauces and five seasonings from which to choose.
My friend chose six wings with hot barbecue sauce and six with his favorite and third-hottest sauce on the menu, the Mango Habanero. All came served with our choice of celery or carrot sticks. I tried his choices and quickly realized that the heat tolerance of my friends palette skews hotter than mine. I could taste a touch of sweet flavor in the Mango Habanero wing, but it shifted to spicy before I could get much of a tasting. The hot barbecue sauce also was too hot for me, but my friend found his wings to be every bit within the "B-Dubs" (their trademark nickname) tradition. I went for six wings with medium sauce, and six with spicy garlic. These were comfortably warm.
It's clear the staff is still ironing out some kinks, as our visit wasn't without caveats. Most disappointingly, my Coke Zero went without ice because of a problem with their equipment. An employee later grabbed bagged ice for the restaurant, but servers had to use it sparingly. Also the wait times were on the long side. My friend put in a separate to-go order to thank his sitter just before our wings were served. It wasn't ready until about 20 minutes after we'd finished eating.
The ice machine had been fixed when I returned for a lunch visit the following Thursday, but wait times were still long. My coworker and I ordered simple entrees from their lunch menu and a side of boneless wings, and our visit ended up being an hour and 10 minutes long — an eternity when you're given an hour lunch and have a 10-minute drive back to the office. My pulled pork sliders ($6.99) and my coworker's cheeseburger sliders ($6.99) were fine, but I found them overshadowed by the tender, juicy boneless wings.
There's lots to like at Buffalo Wild Wings, and between the varieties of sauce, the tablets and TVs, it feels like Medford gained something it's been missing. But until the staff gets a little more acclimated to the busy environment, I'd caution diners in a hurry.
— Nick Morgan