I recently got a “Suggest a Joint” request from Sharlene who told me that I needed to stop into Alstartz because their wings are great. From the outside this restaurant looked like a huge sports bar with tons of square footage and parking to boot. However, when I went inside, the décor and host greeting threw me a bit as it was more of a sophisticated and upper scale sports club, which I wasn’t prepared for. I almost felt under dressed, but I have to say that it was a nice surprise seeing how I was with my family, and sitting in a classier place is always welcome. With that said, the very next thing that came to mind was the price. But a quick glance at the menu put my mind at ease as it was very reasonable… especially when all you want are wings.
For about $10, I got an order of the 10 traditional wings tossed in their Thermo-Nuclear sauce which was comprised of chipotle and BBQ. Now, here is the confusing part: The menu online and the menu in-house were completely different when it came to naming the wing options. While I thought I was getting Thermo-Nuclear with a side of Nuclear and Atomic BBQ, I wound up getting what appeared to be sides of Hot and Sweet Chili. Apparently the naming structure was a bit off, and what I ordered wasn’t named after the intensity of the heat like previously assumed. In fact, heat had nothing to do with the name. But we’ll get back to that.
The wings came out and looked so divine with the rich red color of the BBQ glazed over every wing. Let’s face it, I love barbeque food like any other foody, but the draw that I have to hot wings is simply that… the heat. So, I was anxious to see what kind of kick was lurking behind that classic pit flavored front. I took my first bite, and though the chicken was just tender enough, it was the sauce that did all the talking. The chipotle pepper didn’t overpower the sauce with the smokiness that it’s typically known for; instead, it added the perfect amount of heat to bring this sauce to my spicy level all while keeping the sweetness of the BBQ. Needless to say, my taste buds were happy. My only complaint would be that after a while the sweetness took a toll, and I found myself slowing down between bites. It’s almost like when you get too excited when you get a box chocolate and start eating them all too fast only to find yourself sitting there wondering “maybe I should’ve paced myself.”
I am glad, however, that I went with the Chipotle BBQ because after sampling the original Hot sauce, I felt I would’ve been disappointed if I ordered the whole dish that way. It was very acidic with the vinegar, and even though it was mixed well with the butter, it still left that sharpness on the tongue. The Sweet Chili, on the other hand was a well balanced Honey BBQ with what seemed to be jalapeno mixed within. It was a nice comfortable sauce if you are not looking for your temperature to rise. There were plenty of other sauces that I didn’t get a chance to try, but again, the naming of these items left me confused. So I asked to speak with the man who created them to get a little clarification.
Dave Finch, Executive Chef at Alstarz, took time out of his schedule to speak with me about his wing dishes. Apparently, the name confusion has been an issue, and he is currently working on a new menu that will be named based off of the descriptions rather than what is currently there. He also showed me some of his more elegant dishes that put the wings on display like a beautiful bouqet over rice or other bases. He even has a sauce he hopes to add soon that brings in an Asian flare with sesame, soy sauce, and mango. So why aren’t these items on the menu, you may ask? Dave says that even though he could take the wing to another level, when it comes down to it, the majority of wing eaters would rather he just fry them up with a side of blue cheese and celery… and to be honest, I couldn’t agree more.
So at Alstarz, expect to be surprised by not only the fancy sports club atmosphere, but by the food as well. Because of popular demand, they cook the wings in the good ol’ fashioned fryer with all the greasy goodness it comes with. But it’s the perfect mixture of the sweet and heat that the Chipotle BBQ sauce brings to the dish that makes it a great eat. So if you are near the Bordentown area during the next sporting event, make sure you pop in and indulge. Just make sure to grab some extra napkins and wetnaps… your fingers will thank you.
Alstarz Bar & Grill
140 Route 130 South, Bordentown, NJ 08505