May 17, 2013

Looney’s Pub

Work led me to the DC area this week, and at the same time, left me on my own to find some good food. I ended up in a small college town… aptly named College Park, which is home to the University of Maryland. Needless to say, there were a lot of college kids out having a good time, and when I asked them where to go, one answer emerged: Looney’s Pub.

Looney’s Pub is part of a chain that is a large, happening place full of music and TVs, and had recently opened up a new location which is within walking distance of the campus… and even MORE important, within walking distance of my hotel. So I laced up my Nikes and strolled on down to see what all the fuss was about. Besides, with a slogan like “Helping you lower your standards since 1993,” it was right up my alley.

Luck would have it that I entered there during Happy Hour, and that awarded me the greatest deal ever: 12 wings and a pitcher of domestic beer for only $12.99!! To top it off, they even have an item on the menu called “Wing Taster Wings,” which allowed me to sample three different styles of wings (4 each) within my dozen. So, out of the eight choices, I went with Looney’s Regular Wings, Jerk Wings, and the Murphy McGees’s Wings. Oh!! and my pitcher of Coors Light (see photo) which roughly equates to 4 pints – in case you wanted to know.

When the wings came out they were split into their appropriate groupings and accompanied with blue cheese, carrots, and celery. The first group that stood out right off the bat was the Jerk Wings. You could tell which ones they were because they looked like they took a nice roll down a grass hill (or in this case – an herb hill)… tasted like it too. Typically, when I get Jerk wings they come with some kind of Jerk sauce, not just a season rub. So, my mouth was craving something to battle the dryness of the chicken skin. It was just too grainy for me to handle, and without a sauce was unbearable. It’s a good thing I had two other options to move on to, so let’s proceed.

The next in line was the Looney’s Regular Wings. These were more my speed. The chicken was juicy, tender, and tossed in a classic Buffalo sauce. They used jumbo chicken, so I got a lot of wing to handle, but the sauce could’ve used some improvement. The heat level was a bit low, but I was expecting that seeing as it was just a buttered down generic sauce. So, I cracked open the side of  “Hotty Hot” sauce (their hottest sauce) to find the heat that was missing. Oooooh, it was in that cup alright, along with an extract that made this sauce freakin’ hot. Usually, I can’t stand the smell and taste of an extract that restaurants use for heat, but Looney’s did it tastefully and kept the integrity of the sauce without ruining the flavor. It was still too hot for me though. It took me moving a wing out of the way (not realizing which one) and licking my finger to be instantly reminded which one was the Hotty Hot. Now that I had the low heat and high heat, this made me also want to try their “Hot” sauce which looked better than the Regular with little bits of red pepper in the sauce. It carried a more bearable heat that is more at my level, but like its predecessor, lacked real flavor or originality.

I jumped over to the last of my sample pack of wings to the ones called Murphy McGee’s Wings. These were a nice and welcome surprise. They didn’t carry any heat, like the menu implied, but looking at the Cajun spices right on the skin underneath a beautiful tangy sauce made me forget about that little factor for a bit. The chicken was not as dry as the Jerk, and not as juicy as the Regular (probably due to the spices), but the sauce balanced it out nicely leaving me a happy person.

Overall, if you are looking for some good traditional wings the Looney’s Regular will not disappoint, but they will also not impress. Though the chicken is very large, tender, and juicy, the sauce is what keeps this dish from being a great plate of wings. If you are into spice rubs on your wings instead, I highly recommend you steer clear of the Jerk and shoot for the Murphy McGee’s. Your mouth will thank you and your tongue will, too. Murphy McGee’s, in my opinion, is the best wing out of the three that I tried, and if I had to do it all again, I would have gotten the dozen of just those.

Looney’s Pub
8150 Baltimore Ave, College Park, MD 20740
(240) 542-4510