Recently I received a Suggest a Joint from John who said that I should stop in and try the wings over at Racks Restaurant and Sports Bar in Atco, NJ. He’s been following my reviews, has very similar tastes, and was curious of my thoughts on the subject. I hate to disappoint a reader and I love eating wings, so it was a very easy decision for me to grab the family and swing in for a nice lunch on a beautiful Friday afternoon.
First off, let me just say that this is an awesome bar. The place is a decent size and felt very roomy with tons of fun bar things (shuffleboard, pool, TVs, etc) to occupy your time, when you are not eating wings of course. It’s open seating so we chose a seat in the restaurant area which had a warm family-friendly vibe complete with coloring mat and crayons for my daughter. This is a good thing because it is hard to find a bar that you can go to with your children without feeling like THAT guy. So we’re sitting, some of us coloring, some of us ordering food, and I can’t help but be amazed at the friendliness of the staff. One gentleman even came by just to see if the temperature was comfortable for us and then offered to close the window. So far this trip is working out great, and the only thing left to do is bring on the wings.
I ordered the 12 count of their regular wings in the Medium sauce with Hot and 911 on the side, and when they arrived at the table I got all giddy by the presentation. There was one large wooden bowl that had another smaller wooden bowl inside, upside down (I imagine for two reasons: to act as a lid to keep the wings warm, and to be used as a discard bowl when removed). The extra sauces were balancing on top along with my blue cheese, and the whole package made me super excited to get started. It’s the little things that are important to a wing eater, and when these details are paid attention to, it makes me feel all warm inside. I cracked the bowls open and dove right in. The wings were hot off the fryers and were covered in a homemade sauce that was far different than anything you would find in a bottle off of the shelf. And because it was made in house, it was hot off the stove as well which kept the wings even hotter as if they were all snugged up in a little sauce blanket. The only downfall was that the wings were super tiny, and it was a shame too, because the meat that was on there was very tender and carried good flavor… and the skin was crispy. But maybe that’s why they can afford to give you 12 when most places are turning to the 10 count.
The sauce was homemade and it showed with all the fresh ingredients that were bouncing around in it. But after each bite, it was the garlic and black pepper that resided on the taste buds the longest and made me wish there was something else to balance it all out. It reminded my wife of an Italian dressing, but I am no salad eater, so you’re on your own with that one. I turned to the Hot because the Medium didn’t carry much heat, however, that tasted almost identical to what I was already eating. So, I cracked open the 911 and gave it a good whiff. You could tell by the smell they use an extract of some kind because it has a pungent, nasty aroma that reminds me of Robitussin. I cringe immediately because this usually means that it is going to taste like crap. But, I dump it on the last of the wings anyway and gave a big bite… and I’m glad I did. I still believe that there is an extract in there because the heat level was definitely higher, but Racks did such a beautiful job blending that into the other ingredients to where it didn’t have that disgusting taste that usually accompanies the nasty smell. In fact, that might be the best sauce they have to offer.
Overall, if I rated based off of atmosphere, friendliness, and comfort level, this place would be aces. But I’m here for the wings and the wings alone, and as a whole they are on their way to being a great dish but still need a little work. I love the fact that they have an original sauce and that goes miles in my book. But the lingering black pepper and the small portion size are just two of the things keeping them down. The wings were good and I would have them again if ever in the area. The key phrase there being “in the area” because with all the “great” wing places out there I can’t justify making a special trip for just “good.”
286 White Horse Pike, Atco, NJ 08004