Teen appetites? Wing it!
Wings are the quintessential teen chow: cheap, meaty, messy, and easy to eat in bulk. But the buffalo wing’s native habitat, the sports bar, is hardly appropriate for the consumer whose taste in beer still runs to Barq’s, not Bud. Hence the neighborhood takeout joint, such as the long-running Wings Express in Waltham and the brand-new East Side Wings & Grill in Watertown’s Coolidge Square.
East Side’s proprietors, brothers Nuran and Murat Chavushian, are scions of the square’s venerable Sevan bakery — a heritage that shows in their menu’s occasional Mediterranean tendencies. But their real obsession, as the choice of 26 sauces suggests, is the changes that can be rung upon the basic wing.
In the buffalo family, levels range from mild to “suicide’’; medium is just right for the young palate, with a warm but not painful afterglow. Then there’s “teradactal’’ — too sweet for grown-ups — and an array of even more teen-friendly, adult-scary flavors, from buttermilk ranch to honey BBQ.
Oriental sesame displays a surprising and pleasant subtlety: a hint of sweetness, balanced by plentiful sprinkled seeds. It’s particularly appealing on the chicken tenders (below), which are truly tender. Prices range from $7.99 for an eight-pack of wings to $74.99 for 75 tenders, but your best bet — especially for a mixed-age group — is the single combo: 10 wings, 10 tenders, and one appetizer for $24.99.
Wings Express offers similar bulk pricing on its 20 flavors, from $5.88 for seven wings to $83 for a large platter that they say, believably, serves 25. Tenders are called “boneless wings’’ here and are clearly beside the point; stick with the flavorful, meaty wings, particularly the deeply citrused lemon-pepper and (sigh) the medium buffalo for the kids. A half rack of spicy BBQ baby back ribs ($9.05) adds variety, if not vitamins.
For that, you’ll need the chicken breast garden salad ($7.49) or, from East Side, the happily parsley-heavy tabouleh garden wrap (a nice counterbalance to the diabolically addictive, deep-fried cheesecake bites those kids will demand for dessert). You’ll also need a good, long walk — so go for takeout, rather than the local delivery that both spots offer. Wings Express also has a few tables, OK while you wait but not particularly inviting for a meal. Besides, the whole point is to sling those wings to the ravenous teens back home.
Louise Kennedy can be reached at email@example.com.