Randy's Wing Bar / Hackney Wick, London


Despite loving buffalo wings like they are our spicy, delicious offspring we had never had the pleasure of sampling Randy's Wing Bar in their street food or pop up incarnations. But with a birthday to celebrate, wings and booze were the primary objective.

After a few years of sluggishness, the Olympic Park's legacy is finally starting to morph into something useful: The stadium has a soccer team, Anish Kapour's red spaghetti tower has a slide on it, and now the former Press and Broadcast centres have begun an overhaul. 

In an area comically titled Olympicopolis,  the centre is becoming a 'world-class culture hub' that branding experts have dubbed Here East, which is only slightly better than the previous title, iCITY. Hats off to the PR team that orchestrated this naming clusterfuck. On the other side of the canal from the Red Hook-esque hubbub of Queen's yard and the surrounding areas of The Wick, it looks like it is going to be a buxom retail space. The Westfield must be simply trembling.

In this next phase of the hubbening, the first units of 10 in the Canalside space have opened. Of the three units that have gone live, Randy's sits next to the new location for the perennially popular Breakfast club. The low lit, dark distressed wooden panelling, and white-tiled counter is familiar in design zeitgeist, but the added large patio overlooking the canal is the ace in the hole here.

To the wings: 

The Buffalo style are a mild and subdued version of the traditional flavour, these do not have the punch you would hope and expect. There is no blue cheese sauce on the side, instead a truffled blue cheese dressing is drizzled over the wings. Neither the blue cheese nor the truffle is strong enough to be tasted. The result is woefully insipid. Don't even get us started on the frankly baffling and pointless garnish. 

The Gangnam style was an even sadder glaze for the tiny poultry arms, embarrassingly 'Korean inspired'. If you want a decent baseline for solid Korean Fried Wings you could do worse than hitting up Flesh & Buns/Shackfuyu/Bone Daddies - nicely sweet and sticky, packing a spicy and slightly sour kick. Randy's version are incredibly Soy sauce heavy, lacking in distinct sweetness and any nuance of heat. At best these could be described as Chinese-style, and basic Chinese-style at that. Thing is they look quite pretty though - tarted up wings that are, like the new NME, all shiny and glossy on the outside but have no viable content. 

The other annoyance is that these wings simply are not cooked properly - a good chicken wing should be crisp on the outside and juicy inside. The skin on these was soft and rubbery, making teeth go through the uncomfortable process of awkwardly pulling at it to wrench it away from the bone. Even if the sauces had been good they would have been spoilt by the cumbersome elasticity of what you had to chew it with. 

Buffalo Shrimp & Furious Fries

The sides provide some saving graces: The Furious Fries are tossed in a solid Buffalo sauce which has heat and flavour - do they use the same sauce on the wings as they do on the fries, it doesn't fucking taste like it - and the addition of refreshingly sour feta is an interesting and welcome companion. The Buffalo Shrimp were nicely-breaded plump subjects but should have been tossed in the same sauce the fries were. Instead there were accompanied by a side of some strange Buffalo-Blue-Cheese amalgam which was tart bordering on medicinal. 

But. The Chicken Burger. Shit you guys, this burger.

The brioche that accompanies this chicken patty must feel like the woman whose partner insisted on wearing a tracksuit to her best friend's wedding: The chicken has been mashed to death creating an ultra smooth texture, but is formed into a patty so is also weirdly gelatinous. The added herbs morph the already-odd flavour away from anything meat-like so at best description it tastes and feels like a large slice of a gooey Quorn roast joint, but worse. 

It is so pronounced that no other flavours from the buffalo sauce or blue cheese get a look in, you get a hint at the aioli but it doesn't help matters. The brioche is a nice version - shiny, airy and bouncy - but the sandwich is constructed in such a way that the slimy chicken patty slides off the lettuce and tomato on the bottom bun and it takes greco-roman grapple to keep everything together. Oh. Fucking. Dear. 

We were asked if we wanted the food that we had left on our plates boxed-up to take home. We politely declined.