Buffalo Wild Wings is a chain restaurant with more than 650 locations in 42 states. It specializes in wings with 14 signature sauces as well as other casual foods. It's a popular spot for people of all ages. The Cranberry restaurant, which opened March 27, is the newest location in Pennsylvania.
The first thing you notice about the Buffalo Wild Wings in Cranberry is that it's loud. Not the people -- it was practically empty when we arrived -- but the music. It's turned up to a decibel level that makes it almost impossible to carry on a conversation without yelling.
But friendly people meet you at the door, including Joe the manager, and you're given a choice of sitting in the restaurant area or lounge. The restaurant area has normal-sized tables and chairs, whereas the lounge/bar area has high stools and tables. We opted for a table in the dining room. By the time we left an hour later it was packed and there was a wait.
Buffalo Wild Wings is a sports bar, and the main feature of the décor is lots and lots of televisions: big TVs sandwiched in between bigger TVs and even stacked upon TVs. The little girl at the table next to ours tried to count all the TVs but gave up when she got into numbers that were apparently beyond her grade level. As with most sports bars, there are many framed jerseys from sports teams and players. This was not our first time at a Buffalo Wild Wings; we've even been to several outside of Pennsylvania, and the décor is the same everywhere. However, the corporate colors are Pittsburgh black and gold, so it gets high marks for that.
We had an interesting experience with the drinks, one we've decided to attribute to the newness of the restaurant and its staff rather than a cynical corporate culture.
When asked why there were no prices on the drink menu, our waitress helpfully told us that she thinks the company doesn’t want you to think too much about drink prices; they just want you to order drinks. This did not make us want to order drinks, quite the opposite, but if we had, there is a full selection of beers, including drafts and craft beers. There are also quite a few specialty cocktails and a few wines. After checking with someone else, our waitress was able to tell us that the April "Beer-of-the-Month" was Budweiser and it was $3.50 a glass. She thought other drinks ranged from "about $4 to about $7" but she wasn't sure and made no attempt to find out. We opted for water and diet soda. The price on those was free and $2.29, respectively.
I wanted to try the Chili con Queso Dip ($5.89), but my daughter talked me into the Southwest Bites ($5.29). The dipping sauce was good and spicy, but the bites tasted like something out of the frozen food section of the supermarket. In other words, breading with a bit of stuffing that had been flaked, formed, fried, frozen and reheated. We also ordered Mini Corn Dogs ($5.29), my son's favorite, and they were very good. Corny on the outside, doggy on the inside and nicely mini.
Needless to say, wings are the staple of the menu. There are two wing types, traditional with the bone and boneless. They come in several serving sizes that range in price from $4.99 (for six) to $35.99 (for 50). Next, choose from 14 sauces ranging from mild to so-hot-it's-a-wonder-anyone-can-eat-them.
Our table ordered traditional wings with two sauces, mango habanero and spicy garlic. The mango habanero was hot, too hot for some of us, but the others liked it. It does have a nice flavor until the very end when it seems as though it might rip the skin off your tongue.
We're not sure we got to try the spicy garlic. When the girl brought the order she said they were "mild" so we pointed out that we had ordered spicy garlic. She apologized and returned a while later with, well, something. It seems that our mild wings had been taken back and tossed with another sauce, maybe spicy garlic, maybe not. But the sauce hadn't been incorporated into the wings. Instead, it was cold and they were just kind of swimming in it, and we all agreed they were inedible.
We also ordered a rib dinner ($14.99) with onion rings and coleslaw. Buffalo Wild Wings does onion rings very well. The coleslaw was good, but it's a tiny portion, which is a shame as it's one of the few vegetables on the menu. The ribs were average, at best: tender but with an odd flavor that didn't taste rib-like at all.
Wanting to try something that didn't seem like it was ordered quite as frequently, we got the Fish Tacos ($7.79). They were wonderful: a nicely cooked, fried fish (which is a traditional preparation) and crunchy slaw. Oddly, they were served with a heaping helping of fries, and when we asked the waitress if it wasn't supposed to be served with tortilla chips, she assured us that the dish came with fries. Then we got distracted, but when we checked later, we found it was supposed to be tortilla chips. The fries were excellent, the fish tacos were excellent, but fries just aren't a good accompaniment for tacos.
They also have salads ($7.39), flatbread pizzas ($7.69), popcorn shrimp ($7.89), a selection of sandwiches and burgers and a kid's menu.
Two desserts are listed, ice cream ($1.99) and chocolate fudge cake ($4.79).
In general, the service was friendly and tried to be efficient. Our waitress didn't know much about the menu and didn't feel the urge to learn the answers to any of the questions we or the people at the surrounding tables asked her. She also disappeared for long stretches of time, but other servers kept our drinks filled, brought us our food and asked if we needed anything else. As for the mistakes that were made and the misunderstandings about the menu? Oh well. They're new, they're young, they'll learn.
Wings, wings and more wings.
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Cranberry: 20215 Route 19. Telephone: 724-742-9464