A wing and a miss: the highs and lows of Asgard wings
We’ve got gold fever and the only cure is more wings
The Asgard Irish Pub and Restaurant
350 Massachusetts Ave,
Cambridge, MA 02139
Sunday 10–1 a.m., Monday–Wednesday 11–1 a.m., Thursday–Friday 11–2 a.m., Saturday 10–2 a.m.
Every Monday night at Cambridge’s local Irish pub, Asgard graces the MIT community with 50 cent wing night. All plates must come with at least 10 wings, so to review them all, I went with fellow wing enthusiasts Elijah Miller (who gives his out-of-10 rankings) and Kyle Morgenstein (who also reports the weather for The Tech). Our task was to eat several orders of each wing flavor to determine the best one.
When we walked in, we saw many of the familiar elements of a sports bar. Several different games were playing on different televisions. Different crowds focused on each screen. There was even one table with someone wearing a Cheesehead Hat cheering for the Packers. We were seated at a rise table among the sports-watchers near the bar, though there was the option to sit at more upscale-seeming booths farther from the screens. Surrounding us were other groups of friends, mostly the ages of grad students, and many of them were sharing wings.
It was clear that the 50 cent bargain was something many people took advantage of, so we got right underway. We had to buy drinks to use the deal, so we put those requests in immediately. While it did take longer than we liked to receive those drinks, we got each of our wing orders within well under ten minutes. Most other restaurants that serve wings, notably Buffalo Wild Wings and Wings Over, heavily rely on their sauces, both in terms of quality and in number of options. While such places can cook wings well, which isn’t too hard to do, they often overlook features like texture and greasiness. We hoped Asgard was better than that in their execution, as their flavor options were more limited:
I’m a huge fan of barbecue flavor, but “barbecue” can mean different things to different people. To some, it can simply mean a prevalence of ketchup-based barbecue sauce, and to others, it can mean dry-rubbed meats with a smokey flavor. Asgard sided with the first definition for this dish and executed that fairly well. It’s a fairly similar sauce to barbecues at other places. If you’re into sweet and saucy, this is the flavor for you, as this is definitely the sauciest wing. This flavor ended up as my #2, but was #3 for the barbecue-purists, Elijah (5.05) and Kyle.
Blue Cheese Buffalo
By name, this sauce would appear to be the most creative of the four varieties. I hadn’t seen anything like it at any other wing restaurant I know of. Its straightforward mixing of two common wing ingredients meant that it could work. However, we found that the blue cheese flavor was too rich and prominent, thus masking the buffalo flavor. As such, the heat was subtle, and it tasted closer to cheesy bread due to its noticeably crispy coating. That can certainly be a pro, and so it landed as #2 for Kyle and Elijah (6.42) and #3 for me.
The American standard is a hard flavor to mess up, but also quite difficult to do well. As we all agreed, most restaurants that serve buffalo wings don’t embrace the heat factor of it. Unfortunately, this was also the case at Asgard, with a fairly average performance. The buffalo sauce came across as weak in terms of both spiciness and richness. The side of blue cheese made it better, but wings should be good on their own. Buffalo Wild Wings at least provides different levels of heat for their wings, instead of assuming patrons who order buffalo can’t handle spiciness. This was #4 for all of us, including Elijah (4.38).
This was the only flavor we didn’t know much about in advance. It is typical for wing restaurants to have a mustard-based sauce, like Wings Over’s Honey Mustard sauce, so that was our best guess. However, Gold Fever ended up being a tamer version of this flavor, with a barbecue influence. With its hints of mustard and honey, it succeeds as a sweet and smokey wing. Most northern restaurants shy away from mustard-based barbecue sauces and prefer ketchup-based ones, so we really appreciated Asgard embracing this approach. As Elijah (7.68) simply puts, it’s “what barbecue is supposed to taste like.” This was all of our favorites.
In the end, we’re excited to go back for most of these wings, even if most of the orders didn’t come out as crispy as we’d like. They never came out greasy and were mostly cooked fine, with a couple of them a tad overdone. Asgard wing nights provide a great bang for your buck, and even if they don’t have as many options as other places, they’re very satisfying if you know your favorite flavors!