Feel the Flavor. Taste the Heat.
That is the tagline of East Coast Wings & Grill. It’s pretty spot on.
On Monday evening, we were invited to a special media event at the new Port Richmond location. This is the first Northeast location of the North Carolina-based franchise.
When we walked in, we were cheerfully greeted by two hostesses who took us to where other members of the media were sitting. We were seated with Jill and Scott of Bucks County Fun Family Events and made our introductions.
We were then greeted by a super-friendly server whose name escapes me right now. She took our drink order; we both ordered Miller Lite drafts. Don’t hate. It was a Monday night after all.
Stacey Kane, Vice President of Marketing, came to our table to greet us and offer us a swag bag. It contained a t-shirt, plastic cup, pen, and beer koozy. Nice touch! She explained how the evening would work and described what we would be tasting. She noted that two of the items (burgers) we’d be trying for the first time as they won’t be available on the menu until September. Sounded good to us.
She also gave us the East Coast Wings & Grill backstory and shared some other company and food details such as how they took a company vote to select the sauce (Honey BBQ) that we were going to try tonight. Because naturally there was NO possible way we were all going to try SEVENTY-FIVE different sauce flavors.
That’s right, folks. They offer 75 wing flavors. That’s seriously impressive.
They’re ingeniously grouped by categories such as “Asian”, “Bayou”, “Classic”, “European”, “Fusion”, “South BBQ”, “The Islands”, and “Tex-Mex.” So basically there is a sauce flavor for pretty much anything you’d have a hankering for. According to the website…
Each flavor is mixed to order with the freshest ingredients and our nationally award winning wing sauce. All flavors can be mixed with a heat index of your choice. Add $0.99 per flavor and $0.99 per denomination of 25 wings.
We all pursued the menu while she was telling us about this. Then, before we knew it, the first item for tasting was on its way to our table: Freshly Sliced Basket of Potato Chips.
Sliced daily, cooked to a golden crisp, and then seasoned with our ECW Signature Seasoning. Choose from one of our variety of dipping sauces.
I didn’t want to eat a lot of these because I knew wings were coming and I really wanted to save my appetite for them.
While we were snacking on potato chips, drinking beers, and making conversation with Jill and Scott, I was stealing glances at the menu again. It’s pretty freakin’ massive. They have appetizers, shareables, salads, soups & chili’s, subs and sandwiches, quesadillas, wraps, entrees, “lighter fare” (lower calorie stuff, natch), burgers and cheeseburgers, and of course “America’s Best Wings”!
When the wing parade started it was pretty exciting. They explained all of the heat intensity levels to us. Naturally they started out with the lowest heat (“Virgin” i.e. no heat at all) and worked up to the hottest (Inferno). Not counting the Insanity-level because you have to sign a waiver for that one, of course.
Their heat index is not only described in “heated” terms, but also by units on the Scoville scale – which is an official measurement of spiciness of chili peppers.
The Virgin-level wing, while flavorful, was boring. We definitely wanted some heat. The mild is not even worth talking about. While tasty, it’s good for your Mom or Grandma who doesn’t like spicy things. I didn’t even take a picture.
Well by the time I got the Hot Wings, they were bringing all of the other heat index levels out quickly and it was becoming a little confusing keeping track of them. Not to mention sticky fingers and cooling down – photography took a backseat. The Hot wings is when it started getting, well, spicy. But completely not blow your lips off hot. The X-Hot definitely had the kick I was looking for and lingering effects around the lips. I considered those my favorite as they had the perfect balance of flavor, spiciness and heat.
After that, well, it started to get a little uncomfortable.
The Volcanic and Lava Flow ones were definitely intense. This is the kind where one minute you’ve bitten into the wing and everything seems completely fine, and you’re feeling like a tough guy because you’re thinking to yourself “Heat? What heat?” but the next minute you’re totally on fire, your lips are burning and you start to sweat a little… or a lot.
After these two, I had to take a break. I drank some beer, but I was told that wouldn’t do any good. I dipped them in some ranch sauce which definitely helped take away some of the burn. I also asked our wonderful server for a glass of water at some point which was brought out to me and I drank quickly.
I had two more heat levels to try after this, but I don’t recall getting the Magma level, but do recall saying yes to the Inferno wing. I didn’t bother taking a picture. After my quick break, to say hello to Kory Aversa of Aversa PR, HughE Dillion of Philly Chit Chat and Fox 29’s Alex Holley who were also sweating from the hot-hot-hot wings, I decided to give the Inferno a go. For some reason, it didn’t seem as hot to me, but I could only take 2 small bites. I had had enough.
At that point, I didn’t think I’d have much of an appetite for anything else after that wingfest, but they brought out Shrimp Tacos. These are a new addition to the menu coming in September at all of their locations. I don’t even LIKE shrimp, but I was compelled to try these.
Well, let me tell you, I LOVE them! I think they were perfectly cooked and the sweet & sour sauce really complimented it nicely (I’m a sucker for sweet & sour anything). I would totally order these off the menu in the future.
At this point, though, I was already feeling mostly full. But I knew what was coming next – the debut of two new burgers that will grace the September menu. I needed to soldier on because I felt it was my duty.
The first burger to be introduced was the Big Daddy Patty Melt – 2 half pound Angus beef patties topped with crispy bacon, ghost pepper cheese (!!!), lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, and ranch dressing all stacked between 2 giant grilled sandwiches!!! Holy hell check this out:
There was NO WAY I was going to eat even 1/4th of that thing. I basically took two bites because I really wanted to experience that ghost pepper cheese. It was really good and added a nice little kick to this massively huge and overly rich concoction.
The next crazy burger to be introduced to us was the ECW Breakfast Club Burger: Breakfast in a Bun. A seasoned chargrilled Angus burger topped with melted American cheese, crispy bacon, a mini buttery Belgian waffle (!!!), fried egg, and even more bacon, then stacked atop crispy shredded lettuce and tomato with a side of maple syrup.
At this point, we were certain they were trying to kill us! I could feel my arteries clogging just looking at it. But I had to try it… FOR YOU!!
This got 2 small bites, too. I have to say the Belgian waffle and maple syrup were so tasty – I mean, it’s a crazy thing, but it works. Again, I think this is something you want to share with friends. I really don’t know how one person could eat it.
So, wait, wait… there’s more. I was ready to roll out of there, but they absolutely INSISTED that we try their SIGNATURE dessert… the Original Cookie Skillet with two scoops of ice cream.
Well, if you’re gonna die, die happy right? But luckily that didn’t happen or else you wouldn’t be reading this. I don’t think I need to tell you how awesome, sugary and sweet this was. 🙂
Needless to say, we ate quite a bit lighter today.
But in all seriousness folks, East Coast Wings & Grill is a welcome addition to the Philly food scene. We were delighted to check out the wings and new menu items coming soon and share the experience with you. Thanks to East Coast Wings for hosting us foodies, bloggers and other media folk. It’s always great to get together with like-minded people to talk about food and all the great things Philly has to offer besides cheesesteaks.
Special shout-out to Le Anne Lindsay of Tinsel & Tine – who I finally got to meet in person. Love that blog! Check her out! Sorry to anybody I missed – didn’t get to meet everybody. Hopefully next time!
Anyways, check ECW online and GO, GO, GO visit them in Port Richmond soon. You won’t regret it. Stay tuned to this site because we’re going to be giving away some gift cards so that you can try it soon.
East Coast Wings & Grill
Aramingo Super Center (in the Shop Rite plaza sandwiched between Game Stop and Joyce Leslie)
2539 Castor Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19134
The Doyenne of Dining in Philadelphia and South Jersey.