April 17, 2013

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap is located in downtown Chicago and has multiple awards for the best wings in the Windy City. For this reason alone, I felt obligated to pop in to see what makes their wings stand apart from the rest.

Jake’s is a large restaurant and bar that gives off a good vibe when you walk in the door. Though they have a large sit down area, I opted for the bar so I could pester the bartender with pointless facts about peppers. I grabbed a beer and menu to see that they had many selections ranging from Ponchos (a garlic cayenne mix) to Firecraker (their Asian blend). But because I love me a great Buffalo sauce, I ordered up my 8 with their Traditional Medium. At the bartender’s suggestion, I also picked up sides of Spicy (Habanero sauce), Firecracker, and XXX (Ghost Pepper sauce).

When the wings arrived, the color was GORGEOUS but they looked not as crispy as I would expect to find on a fried wing. One bite made me feel that they were baked instead. But after confirming by the staff that they were indeed fried, I basically went with the notion that they were just soggy and probably fried at a lower temperature which prevented them from crisping up. Either way, the meat was very tender and the sauce had good flavor to it.

The sauces, both Medium and Spicy, had relatively the same taste with the exception that Spicy was indeed spicier, but the flavor was still the same. It was a classic Buffalo style that had a better consistency than a normal sauce because it clung really well to each wing preventing me from having to keep dipping to get more flavor.

The Firecraker was a sweeter sauce with some green onions mixed in that elevated the wing to exotic level. However, even though it tasted good, I’m all about the Buffalo, so we turn back to give the XXX a go. This sauce was so thick it looked like molasses (see pic on right). And even though I have eaten the Butch T Trinidad Scorpion pepper, which is hotter than the Ghost, it didn’t take away from the fact that the XXX sauce was still very intimidating. I poured it on the last wing and down the hatch it went. After I finished crying and pulled myself together, I politely put down the remainder of the wing and wet-napped the hell out of my hands to avoid that stuff from getting in my eyes.

Ultimately, the sauces here are what carried the dish. My main complaint would be with the cooking of the wing itself. Though tender and juicy, the sogginess and overall consistency of the meat and skin heavily reminded me of eating the Friday’s wings that you get in the freezer aisle. One simple change in the preparation could take these wings from being a good eat, to a great one.

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap
41 E. Superior Street, Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 266-0400