February 19, 2012

Thunderbird Steak House

I received another “Suggest a Joint” the other day to stop into a little dive in Broomall, PA called Thunderbird Steak House. According to Joseph, who sent the request, the Original Thunderbird ranks within his top 5 wing places primarily due to the flavor of the wings. So I made the trip to see what kind of flavor these things pack.

Right off of West Chester Pike is this little pizzeria-sized eatery which you can easily spot by its green, antiquated storefront. The place looks old and with good reason – it is.  They opened their doors in 1956, and have been dishing out wings ever since. So I hopped on in and placed my order to one of the nicest waitresses I’ve met in a while.

I ordered ten of their “Famous Chicken Wings,” took my seat, and sipped on my soda until they arrived (no beer?… hey, it was lunchtime after all). When the wings landed on my table, the first thing that came to mind was the plating. The wings themselves looked great, but the sides made me think that some cost cutting was being implemented. Along with a packet (yup packet) of Ken’s blue cheese were three very small sorry bits of celery that left me feeling a bit sad for the little guys. It’s obvious that they are not the stars of the dish, so let’s get right to why I came.

The wings were a nice orange hue and had a very pleasant smell. The meat itself was just tender enough to not be labeled average, and came out pretty hot. They were a decent size with equal portions of wings and drums, so I didn’t feel cheated one way or another, and they were coated very well with the sauce. Ah yes, the sauce…

The sauce was very unique as it had a nice sweetness to it with a buttery after note. The flavor was so incredible it kept me racing for the next piece. The best way that I can describe it would be to take a hot sauce and mix in a little Chinese Szechuan sauce and dump on some butter… great stuff. My only complaint would be that it wasn’t hot enough (and I didn’t have a choice in heat levels). In fact, all I could sense was a slight murmur of heat, and it left me craving that kick that I’m used to when I get a great Buffalo sauce. But I can’t take away from the fact that they were delicious… like a sweet candy. And like a sweet candy, it kept me going back for more, and more, and more. And also like candy, you can eat a ton without noticing until your stomach reminds you why that might not have been a good idea. Luckily I hadn’t reached that level yet, but I could feel it coming on.

Ultimately, these wings needed a lot more heat and a little more flavor on the meat itself. A little more attention could go toward the sides, as well, as it only makes the wings more appetizing when the dish looks complete. With that said, I enjoyed the flavor SO much that I kept smelling my fingers all the way home for the sweet memories… what does that tell you?

UPDATE: I returned a year later to see how Tom and his crew were doing at T-Bird, and I’m happy to report that he is a man of his word. Not only did they get rid of that god-awful packet of blue cheese, but the celery was plentiful and the plating looked better. There is even word that there might be a hotter sauce with the same great flavor on the horizon. We shall see, but I’m glad that the people at Thunderbird Steak House are serious about taking criticism and making changes if it helps to improve their wing dish.

Thunderbird Steak House
2323 West Chester Pike, Broomall, PA 19008
(610) 356-8869