JT Pluckers Wing & Crab Shack

Edit 06/28/11: I have a new review of Pluckers Wing & Crab Shack - the new location of the same restaurant in West Burlington. This time with pictures!
I like to consider myself somewhat of a wing snob. I’m picky with my wings, and have certain criteria that need to be met before I can consider a wing to have passed the test. I have tried wings from many different places – from fine dining and fast food to frozen and homemade. I of course feel like I deserve a Wing Connoisseur title because of this. Maybe I should start adding that to my business cards. Or not.

Located in a strip plaza on a busy corner, the lit-up palm tree outside JT Pluckers beckoned to my boyfriend and me. The chalkboard outside sealed the deal: Two-for-One Wing Night on Tuesdays? Done. I had wings on the brain, and there was no stopping me now.

The atmosphere was fairly typical of bars and casual food places. There is a bar directly to your left from the doors and a small dining roo

m with a handful of booths and tables. The TVs were tuned to everything from hockey to soccer, and there was even a digital jukebox along the wall if you didn’t like the music. In the centre of the ceiling in the dining room was an airplane made to look like it had crashed through the roof while being piloted by a giant chicken. Kitschy, yes, but it caught my eye and made me smirk.

We settled into a booth and our server brought us menus and took our drink order. To order the wing special you must eat in the restaurant and have a beverage – standard rules for these types of deals. We opted for 7Ups (only Pepsi products here) and started looking through the menu. It isn’t extensive, but there are a few sections and items that I certainly don’t consider typical bar food. There are plenty of items that satisfy the Crab Shack portion of the restaurant name: Crab cakes, seafood boils and an interesting surf-and-turf burger with Alaskan crab. Definitely something I want to try the next time I’m back – their menu declares they have the “Best Burger” and I feel it’s my duty to put this title to the test.

This visit, however, was all about the chicken wings. First place winners at the Hamilton Waterfront Wing Festival, Pluckers prides themselves on their unique wing sauces.  Although I’m not one of those people who can just eat chicken wings – I need something else with them or I get bored with my meal. Knowing this, we decided to order the Crab Shack Seafood Platter ($10.99) to get a taste of the seafood, and the white-wine sauce sounded too good not to try. Pluckers has a decent variety of sauces and each month there is a featured one.  November’s is Hot Italian: a marinara sauce with a bit of heat and some Parmesan. Our server suggested the featured sauce wasn’t as tasty as the regular offerings, and we ended up choosing one order of Garlic Parmesan wings and one order of Pluckers Signature wings ($10.99 for both with the deal). 

Although there were only about a dozen customers, the wait was a bit on the long side. We had asked for all the food to come out together, and they eventually made their way to our table. In retrospect, I wish we had asked for the seafood platter to come out quicker to stave off the hunger pangs I was experiencing. The seafood platter is served in a large cast iron skillet directly from the oven. Mussels, shrimp, scallops, red potatoes and diced onion are simmered in garlic butter, lemon and white wine and served with slices of baguette and a small cup of coleslaw. The bread wasn’t anything special, and I think it would taste better if it was lightly toasted or at least warmed up. The coleslaw was tossed in a light, creamy sauce – a good mixture between a heavy sauce and a vinaigrette. I actually enjoyed it, and found that it was a good accompaniment to the seafood sauce. The seafood was unfortunately overcooked to the point where everything was a bit rubbery, but there was a decent amount in the skillet. Six mussels, four or five small scallops and six medium-sized shrimp filled the dish. There was such amazing potential because the sauce was to die for. Perfectly seasoned with the flavour of the sweet onions cooked in, I could have put it into a bowl and called it soup. We actually asked for more bread to soak more of it up, it was that good. 

The wings themselves looked appetizing. The sizes are average – not so large and coated in batter you can’t find the meat, but not so small you feel like you’re eating a nugget. We got our wings with a very thin breading that was light and crispy. The wings did not dry out in the fryer, and the meat was moist and tender. There were about eight wings in each order – which are on the expensive side if you’re comparing wing size and quantity to price on a non-deal night. There are plenty of other places in town that give you the same number of bigger wings for the same price or less.

The Garlic Parmesan wings were also disappointing. A semi-dry wing tossed in garlic butter and sprinkled with Parmesan sounded like it was going to be a good choice, but it was a huge letdown. The garlic butter wasn’t strong enough to coat the wing, so although there were hints of the flavour, it was too subtle to pick out unless you knew to look for it. The Parmesan was the powdered kind you can buy in any grocery store and added a strange, almost bitter taste to the wing. It would have been much better with grated fresh Parmesan rather than the processed powder that was used.

The Signature wings were the best things we ordered. The sauce is a mixture of a sweet barbecue and hints of Cajun with a mild heat. The wings were coated nicely but not too saucy that they overpowered the meat. The boyfriend declared it to be his favourite house sauce in any wing place he’s tried. I, being more discerning, say it’s up there but I’m not sure if I would say it’s the best.

Overall, the food was decent though the service was slow. It is a good, casual place to go to if you want to hang out with friends and watch some sports on TV. There is a decent variety of options on the menu for everyone, and the wings are pretty good. However, this is a place I’d probably only go to on nights when they have their specials, to get more bang for my buck. I hear they have a burger special on Wednesdays... 

JT Pluckers Hangar and Bar on Restaurantica
JT Pluckers Wing and Crab Shack
1900 Walkers Line, Burlington


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