P.J. Whelihan’s is a chain pub in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area, and is well known because of their association with SportsRadio WIP’s Wing Bowl since they make the wings for this event. Recently, I attended that event with the Bring The Wing crew, and had such a mouth-watering great time watching all the contestants eat these wings that I just had to stop in for myself and give them a whirl (Standing so close to the competitors and smelling all that buffalo goodness and not getting to eat them didn’t help much either).
I popped into the Haddonfield P.J.’s because that was the location that cooked nearly 12,000 of these wings for the Wing Bowl. The only thing that they say was different between the wings they served in the event and the ones they serve in their pubs is the size. For Wing Bowl, they use a smaller wing so the competitors can rip right through them and onto the next, but they want to use the larger wing to satisfy the patrons that walk in their doors… which in this case is me, so I take my seat and order my food.
I ordered the ten count of the Hot (original recipe) and a side of the Inferno because on the menu it says “we dare you,” and I always like a good challenge. Shortly after, the waitress returned with a small plate, a pile of napkins, and a wet-nap. Now it’s not as cool as a wooden bowl or a roll of paper towels, but I still really appreciate when a place thinks about this sort of thing.
The wings arrived with the classic blue cheese and celery, which were more like shavings than anything else, so I tossed them aside and got started on the wings. They were larger in size, like they promised, which was great because it made them easy to handle. I bit into a nicely warmed drum, so I knew that they weren’t just sitting around, though they didn’t have much coverage of sauce on them. And the sauce that was kind of baked onto the skin didn’t hold onto much of the good flavor that was found in the sauce at the bottom of the bowl. So I had to dip each wing to coat them well before I ate. This drastically increased the flavor and the temperature as well because the sauce was actually hot off of the stove.
The sauce had a nice heat, could have been a little more, but packed good flavor which was nice because the chicken itself wasn’t anything extraordinary. So the sauce was needed to bring the flavor. One thing that I noticed when I dipped the wings in the sauce is that it made the wing very slimy and lost the crispness that it had when it arrived. And like I said, I needed to dip them to get the flavor, so I was at a standstill: Have crispy wings… or flavorful wings? I went with the flavor and decided it was time to take the “we dare you” challenge of the Inferno. I dipped my finger in at first to taste, and noticed that sauce was kind of thin. Normally with the hotter sauces, it starts taking on a pastier consistency and sticks to the wing like tar (or napalm). But that wasn’t the case here, so I took the small side bowl and poured the Inferno all over one of the wings to get as much on there as possible. This way I could be positive that I wouldn’t miss anything. What I found was that the Inferno, though hotter than the other, was not as hot as I was led to believe, almost like one step up in heat and was VERY vinegary. I would think that Inferno would be at least three steps up from the Hot based on the name. So I’ve decided that it’s time they renamed it to something more accurate, and I’m throwing in my vote for…wait for it… “Hotter.”
Overall I enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere was very pleasant, but I have to tell you that the only reason I would consider them World Famous Wings is because of the Wing Bowl and that alone. They are a good eat, but nothing that left a lasting impression. P.J.’s menu says that “Nobody does Buffalo Style like we do,” and in a way they’re right. Some do it worse, and some do it better, but if you are looking for a better than average wing, then you have found your place.
700 North Haddon Ave., Haddonfield, NJ 08033