The NEPA Wing Men are your right hand men for decoding wing nights around Northeastern Pennsylvania. They visited Backyard Ale House in Scranton and rated the following categories on a scale from 1 to 10:
LYNCH’S RATING: 29 out of 50
I love Backyard Ale House. It is easily one of my favorites places to go in downtown Scranton for some great food and libations. They provide a huge selection of draft and bottled beer along with some outdoor seating in the back, hence the name of the place. There is nothing better than sitting outside on a warm summer evening enjoying food with friends. As The Wing Men, we provide a rating as though it was our first time there and, unfortunately for Backyard, this visit was mired in a series of bad events that dampened the overall experience for everyone in our party. I will say we had a bigger group with us this time, so I knew there was going to be a bit of a lag in food and drinks coming out. That wasn’t the problem though. Our server was unfriendly and unapologetic. They ran out of wings on their wing night, so a couple people had to cancel or reduce their orders. Other food orders came out wrong or didn’t arrive at all. Serniak and I ordered 25 wings, but due to the shortage of wings, had to reduce the order to 20. We were told the wings would be cheaper as a result. When the check came, it was still the full price. Will I return to Backyard Ale House in the future? Absolutely. I understand this was an unfortunate, one-time experience, and future visits should be much better.
Backyard Ale House only offers wings on their wing night, which is Tuesdays. They provide two options to enjoy your wings. For light eaters, you can order 10 wings in a sauce of your choice for $7. If you’re feeling hungrier and adventurous, they offer 25 wings for $15, which includes five wings of each sauce they are offering that week. This is always the option we choose so we can taste every flavor. On this visit, the wing size ranged from average to large and meaty.
I really enjoy how Backyard runs their wing night. This is the only time they provide wings, and they always have a rotating selection of flavors. You will see Traditional on the menu every week. It comes with the option of Mild, Hot, or Gnome’s Nightmare, which is an extremely spicy sauce. From there, the flavors are always changing and are always unique. For example, the Fat Elvis wing offered during our visit was a mixture of peanut butter, bacon, and banana. What they offer on their wing night may not appeal to you, so look for them on Facebook every Tuesday if you want to see what flavors they have for that week.
Taste (x2): 5
With the rotating selection of flavors, the taste can be hit or miss. I had high hopes for the Fat Elvis wing. The idea of peanut butter, bacon, and banana on a wing is oddly appealing to me. In our order though, these wings didn’t have any sauce on them at all. These just tasted like wings fried in oil. I don’t know if they forgot or they ran out of the sauce. I tried this flavor at Wings at the Waterpark. I remember it being a drier wing, but not like this. I’m not sure what happened here.
SERNIAK’S RATING: 31 out of 50
The atmosphere at the Ale House is one that should instantly put you in a good mood. Whether it’s their amazing selection of craft brew or their creative menu, you certainly won’t be able to be one of those mopes at the bar. Surprisingly, our service wasn’t the best we’ve had there. Some mix-ups with what people ordered, which led to difficulty with the bill, made for a confusing evening. These things happen. Michael Jordan had off nights, just like the rest of us.
Wing Size: 7
The Ale House certainly gives you options when you order on wing night. You can either pay $7 to get 10 wings, or you can pay $15 to get 25 wings, which ends up being five of each flavor. Just be a pro about it and over indulge. However, beware; these wings are pretty massive. They are potentially the biggest we’ve ever encountered.
Wing Flavors: 7
What’s really interesting about the Ale House, is that they rotate out their flavors every week. I think that’s a real progressive idea to keep things fresh. This week they had their regular hot, sweet and sour, Fat Elvis (bacon, peanut butter, banana), mango habanero BBQ and Hot Caesar. I know there are only 5 to choose from, but their creativity and uniqueness stands out to me. Even with only five flavors, two of them are flavors I’ve never seen before.
Wing Taste(x2): 6
The biggest reason for this rating is because the Fat Elvis wings barely had any seasoning added to them, to the point where they were essentially naked. The hot wings were flavorful and brought a comfortable heat that all can handle. The sweet and sour were exactly that, and they did it well. You can taste everything that you’re looking for with this flavor. The mango habanero BBQ, I thought was lacking in the heat I figured I would get with habanero. The sweetness of the BBQ side of the flavor was dominant. Finally, the hot Caesar, delivered the spice of their hot sauce with the soothing zest of Caesar dressing. The flavor was done well.
Matt Lynch and Matt Serniak are revered in the local wing scene. Their blog, http://NEPAWingMen.com, has featured almost 100 reviews of wing nights throughout Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. Check their reviews in Weekender every other week.