When I was a kid living in the ‘burbs, my family and I would go to the Varsity once year, usually correlating to a sporting event downtown. I still love the Varsity. At the moment, I am actually craving a chili dog (or two), onion rings, and an FO (Frosted Orange, for the uncultured). I always noticed a restaurant near by with a big cartoon cricket statue, which I always hoped was a Pinocchio themed restaurant that inside looked like the Disney store at the mall and just sold chicken tenders and Sprite. Our family never went in because, if you’re downtown, you’re going to the Varsity for your yearly grease cleanse, and you aren’t going to sacrifice it for a restaurant that has a fishing bait for a mascot.
As I got older and went downtown to go to cool concerts at the Masquerade, I wasn’t going to the Varsity like “a tourist”, my cool friends and I would go to Little 5 Pizza or eat a Subway sandwich in the car when my friend Adam’s dad would drive us to shows.
I forgot about the restaurant with the big cricket pimp on the outside until I started asking my friends where they would recommend for me to go. My buddy Ed (he’s a super talented illustrator and animator along with being a fearless, funny comic) suggested I go to J.R. Crickets. The pieces all came together….THE PINOCCHIO RESTAURANT HAS WINGS!
It turns out the location of my childhood recollection was shuttered and they took that giant Six Flags Over Georgia reject character and planted it at their new “Original” J.R. Crickets down the street from the Fox Theater on North Avenue.
Yesterday, I was in the mood to celebrate (details will come later… no, I am not engaged. Yes, I would probably get wings to celebrate being engaged. Wings are perfect for any occasion). I knew it was time to go to that cricket joint that Ed recommended and to see if they sold plush versions of that delightful insect hawking wings and ribs.By the way, you can add ribs to everything on the menu.
I took Ed’s other recommendation to get the wings swimming. I ordered ten medium swimming buffalo wings with blue cheese. I wouldn’t come here for the presentation or ambiance. It’s the equivalent of going to get your oil changed. My wings game out and were truly swimming in a cup of sauce (the image doesn’t how how deep that
spicy pool was.) It’s hard to get a good picture of these wings. Mostly because I was really hungry and wasn’t focused on angles or anything. The wings were small but I could tell they were fresh. The chicken wasn’t knock your socks off juicy but there was nothing wrong. The sauce had a great flavor; it was runnier than I typically prefer but you could tell they had this buffalo blend down to a science. I was even dipping my fries in the sauce. The blue cheese was also house made. I appreciate when restaurants do their sauces in house. It is easier to have vats of lardy sauce brought in but there’s no love in it.
J.R.Cricket’s is a no frills wing place but there is a reason they have been in business for over 30 years and have multiple locations. They taste like someone really cared about the sauce. I am a fan of quality, flavorful, juicy chicken but there is something to be said about a sauce you think about the next day, even if it’s on a tiny wing.