Sunday, August 12, 2007

Review: University Chicken Sports Pub

One Sunday we were cruising around Santa Clara on various errands. Suddenly there was a cry out from the back seat of the car; “let’s get some hot wings”! So off to University Chicken we go.

I remember this place as the Cluck U Chicken Co. It has been a few years since I had been there and now it seemed to be transformed from a fast food type place to a sports pub. Rumor has it that there was some legal nastiness over the name since there was already a chain with the prior name. But that is a tangent which we won’t bother to follow.

The menu is on the wall over the count at which you order. The food is standard pub fare with a heavy push towards the wings. Some of the patrons in the place were enjoying burgers and onion rings, while other seemed to be sweating in agony over a paper bowl with almost glowing red saucy wings.

We were there for the wings so we stared at the heat scale sizing up the different levels of soon to be self inflicted pain. “How much can I take”, was buzzing through our heads? The levels of heat were listed as follows: Mild, Traditional, Atomic, Nuclear, Traditional Death, Thermo Nuclear, and Global Thermo Nuclear. You can get those wings as standard bone in hot wings or Devil Bites; chicken tenders soaked in the hot wing sauce.

We all agreed that the standard wings are the way to go. I opted for the Traditional Death flavor and the rest of the people in our group went with Traditional and Atomic.

So let’s start at the bottom of the scale; the traditional wings were just that. They were not too saucy with an orangey color, and a vinegary tang. They had just the slightest amount of heat. Being one level from the bottom of the heat scale this wing was as its name described.

The Atomic wings were the next to be tasted. This one confused me a bit. They seemed milder to me that the traditional, however, they are sweet not tangy with a hint of ginger or mace. This flavor confused the pallet in to thinking they were milder. They did have a great flavor and were very enjoyable. It was like an Asian fusion flavored hot wing.

Now it’s time to sample Traditional Death. Really, how hot can they be? They are just trying to scare you with all that death talk. I mean let’s get real it is just food after all…right? Open mouth, enter pain! Now I like very hot food, and that is what these wings are. The sauce is darker than the traditional and there is an ever so slight flavor of extract sauce, maybe Dave’s Insanity, I’m just speculating? By the third wing my face is numb. The pain has subsided to a warm glowing, numb euphoria. I order the 12 piece because I love hot wings. Wing number 6 brings on the lightheadedness and number 7 a slight disorientation. The other people in the party are talking to me but I’m not sure I am hearing what they are saying. Remarkably I answer back. Wing 8 is the end, the numbness is wearing off and we are re-entering the pain phase. I chuckle to myself as I look up at the menu board and realize that there are two more heat levels above what I’m eating. I pack the last four in a foam togo container and hope they don’t burst into flames in my car while I’m driving home.

The atmosphere at University Chicken is typical college sports pub, it’s a bit grimy and neglected looking, and there are plenty of TV’s to watch the game du’ jour. The service is walk-up and soft drink refills are 50 cents. The staff seemed less than enthusiastic. The wings however get the LAST BITE stamp of approval. You can go with mild or face melting heat, traditional, death, or global thermo nuclear… It’s your funeral!

University Chicken

2565 The Alameda
Santa Clara, Ca 95050 - Map It!
Phone(408) 241-2582

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