July 29, 2012

Miller’s NJ Ale House

Miller’s Ale Houses have been springing up around the Florida area since 1988 and just started to make their way up North. One such location just opened up on Rt. 73 in Mount Laurel, so I had to stop in to see what kind of food they had on the menu… and what kind of wings. I decided to grab the family one Saturday and pay them a visit during lunch time to get some grub, and noticed that Miller’s Ale House is very similar to a Friday’s type of chain with its relaxed atmosphere. The only difference is that the Ale House has more of a beachier / marina type vibe, and yet at the same time bombards you with sports from every angle with 80 something flat screens of varied sizes. Now I’m not a big sports fan, but I am a big wing fan, so I open the menu to see what they have.

The wings come in two varieties: Bone in and Boneless. I normally only judge regular wings as I feel that boneless wings are really just nuggets covered in sauce, and there is too much meat and breading that take away from the whole wing experience. However, this time I am going to make an exception as the menu keeps boasting their boneless wings (or “Zingers” as they call them) as World Famous. So much so that they make everything from Zinger-Tacos to Zinger-dillas using this boneless version. So today I am going to evaluate those as well to see what makes them so special.

Let’s start with the wings. I ordered the 10 count of their “Fresh Jumbo Wings” with a Medium Sauce, a side of Hot, and a side of what they call “Mt. St. Helens,” which I imagined would be so incredibly hot that it would blow off the top of my skull. When the wings arrived, the plate looked kind of scarce with the bowl of wings centered atop a plate that only contained a small portion of celery and a little cup of Blue Cheese. At first I was taken back by this thinking that I was being robbed of something, but then a closer look revealed that it was just a poor plating design by this chain. The large plate on the bottom, which came in handy for storing all the bones and napkins, was giving the illusion of emptiness unlike other bars that cram it all in one bowl to make it seem more full… when in reality it is the same portion size. Getting past this, I divert my focus to the wings themselves which came breaded and in my opinion were not “Jumbo.” A little sauce was held in the breading but then ultimately wound up on the bottom of the bowl for dipping. The meat was decent in tenderness and came out hotter than normal, but the sauce only carried a touch of heat which wasn’t enough for me, so I doused them in the Hot instead (Good thing I got that side). The Hot definitely brought more of the heat that I wanted, but with all of the sauces being buttered down variations of Frank’s Red Hot, it lacked the originality that I look for when I am out searching for good wings. So for the final bites, I turn to the Mt. St. Helens sauce in hopes to find something different and unique. The good news was that it wasn’t just Frank’s anymore as they added more to the sauce including a TON of black pepper (and I mean a ton). The bad news was that the heat level was more than the Medium but less than the Hot, so in reality it doesn’t live up to its name very well.

Moving on to the Zingers. I’ll keep this quick because all the above mentioned sauces and plating are identical in this dish, however, the thing that made this boneless variation stand out was the selection of chicken. Normal boneless wings are nuggets of sorts with an overload of chewy breading and dry meat. The Zingers came to me in more of a long tender form with a light and crispy battered shell that didn’t trump the flavor of the chicken. The meat was very tender and came out piping hot which left me waiting to eat, but all in all it was a good dish. Is it World Famous? Well, for a boneless wing it absolutely is one of the better that I’ve tried, so I will let that claim stand… for now.

Both dishes that I tried filled me up but left me craving more… either in the heat or flavor departments. With all of that plus the unoriginal sauces, they stay in the category of good wings that I would eat again, but are nothing to write home about. However, if boneless is the only way you fly (which is ironic ’cause a boneless wing cannot sustain flight) then shoot on down to grab some Zingers at Miller’s NJ Ale House over any of the other mess of wingless examples that plague the other food chains. I, on the other hand, prefer actual wings over boneless any day of the week and will stick to my quest to find the best ones out there.

UPDATE: I’ve been back to Miller’s NJ Ale House a number of times since this review and I need to take back my comments about the size. At that time, the wings were average in size and didn’t look large by any stretch. However, every time since then the wings came out super huge and I would give them a 5 wing rating for size.

Miller’s NJ Ale House
554 Fellowship Rd., Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
(856) 722-5690