Wing Trail Review #2: Gene McCarthy's OFW Brewery

WBEN's Mike Baggerman reviews the chicken wing joints in WNY

Mike Baggerman
June 15, 2018 - 2:00 am

Gene McCarthy's Old First Ward Brewery on June 14, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)


DISCLAIMER: I'm is just a guy who likes wings and happens to work at WBEN.

Important side note: The first wing trail review was posted on the same day as Anthony Bourdain took his own life. I never watched his show, but I always heard that he had an open mind. Whether it was the perfection of a steak at a five-star restaurant or reviewing the ketchup-y pasta dish at Jollibee in Manilla, Bourdain taught us all that it’s okay to try new things.

Don’t feel like you need to hide your sadness, depression, or any thoughts that could lead to self-harm. Nobody wants you to get hurt. Erie County’s Crisis Service Hotline is (716) 834-3131.

Shortly before writing this, I saw Bourdain say something that I weirdly drew a parallel with this wing review

“It is true that I lie to my daughter and tell her that Ronald McDonald has been implicated in the disappearance of small children…that I sneer at fast food…revile it at every opportunity. But I am also a hypocrite. Because, to me, Filipino chain Jollibee is the wackiest, jolliest place on earth”

Rest in Peace, Anthony Bourdain.

I started this project for two reasons. The first? My love for chicken wings. The second? A desire to try something new. I've already been to some of the places on the wing trail but my goal with this project is to rate the top-12 chicken wing joints. 

It's worth mentioning that when the idea for me to do this project came about, one of the first things I did was go to our sales manager and asked if ANY of the places on the list are a sponsor of WBEN or any of our affiliate stations. He told me they weren't. 

When I order the wings,. I'll request one order of "medium" wings and another order of the "specialty" wing, if the place has one. If the place has a local beer, I'll grab that.

One bite of each wing and a reaction. A perfect ten will send me into a state of euphoria. A one will make me puke.

Gene McCarthy’s Old First Ward Brewing Company | 73 Hamburg Street, Buffalo

Gene McCarthy’s is located in the Irish neighborhood that is South Buffalo. It’s not too far from the Ohio Street lift bridge and there’s plenty of street parking available.

The joint is split into three parts: The restaurant, the beer garden, and the brewery in the back.

My favorite thing about this bar was its theme. If you can’t tell from the moment you look at the bar that it’s an Irish bar, you’re an idiot you need to educate yourself about Irish culture. The Irish Flag proudly waves outside, Irish shirts, Guinness beer signs, hell…even a Notre Dame banner was on the wall. This is as Irish of a bar as you can get.

The beer garden is outside by the front entrance. There were a TON of people when I went there on Tuesday. It probably helped that it was Trivia Night, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s consistently busy like this because of their vast beer selection.

A lot of the beers are made there because of the brewery behind the beer garden. From Porters to Pale Ales, beer dorks need to give it a shot. I went with the “NOTA Pale Ale”. That beer used four types of malts and six types of hops. What that really means, I have no idea…but it sounds fancy…and, most importantly, it’s delicious.

Beer Menu at Gene McCarthy's OFW

Gene McCarthy’s has 11 different styles of chicken wings. It has your basic mild/medium/hot/bbq but also has “specialty” flavors like the McCarthy’s (sweet & spicy BBQ with bleu cheese crumbles), Sheffield (special house dry rub blend), Thai Chili and Garlic, Honey Mustard, Garlic Parm, and Mandarin Sauce.

Unfortunately, I’m limited to one order of medium and specialty so I couldn’t try all the different types…but I went with the McCarthy’s as the specialty. If you’re going to put your name on the chicken wing, it’s obviously the best one.

The medium wing was pretty standard and nothing stood out with it which disappointed me. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy who likes saucy and/or spicy wings. They had a little bit of sauce on it but it’s the type of wing you could order at any place.

Medium Wing Grade: 3/10 ($10.50 for one order)

Their McCarthy wing is incredible. Are you the type of person who gets enraged when you get a bleu cheese container that has a giant chunk in it instead of the liquid? What if you took that chunk and garnished the wing with a bunch of them? Seriously, that’s what they did and it worked to perfection. The McCarthy wing was sweet, though not that spicy, but the bleu cheese chunks on top made it a great wing.

McCarthy's Wing Grade: 7/10 ($11.75 for an order)

If I gave Gene McCarthy’s a grade based on overall experience, I’d probably give it a grade between 7-8 based on the atmosphere, the incredible beer selection, and the great McCarthy wing. However, because the wing trail review is based solely on the chicken wings and the medium wasn’t to die for.

Final Verdict: 5.0/10


Power Rankings

1. Mammoser's Tavern & Restaurant - 6.3

2.Gene McCarthy’s Old First Ward Brewery – 5.0

Comments ()