Food & drink

Eating Out: Wing it, superbly – with wallops of sauce for good measure

Wing It. Picture by Hugh Russell
Seamus Maloney

Wing It,

The Botanic Inn,

23-27 Malone Road,


BT9 6RU.

07909 827266

When is a wing not a wing? When it’s ajar. Or something.

Hilarious – everything on the internet is ‘hilarious’, so why not this? – joke aside, this question made it all the way to the venerable halls of American justice last week when a crusader for the truth/attention seeking chancer brought a lawsuit against US chicken wing chain Buffalo Wild Wings.

In common with just about everywhere that sells them, BWW calls their chunks of chicken breast coated, deep fried and served in various sauces and dry seasonings ‘boneless wings’.

Illinois man Aimen Halim is so perturbed by the fact it’s not actual wing meat that he did the most American thing he could think of and went to court. Strangely there was no mention of the cauliflower wings elsewhere on the BWW menu, and the terrifying prospect of brassicas zooming around the sky like drones.

The company responded on Twitter that not only do their boneless wings consist of white chicken meat but there is no ham in their hamburgers and zero per cent buffalo in their buffalo wings. It was, as every outlet that reported on the story noted, a HILARIOUS response.

The case continues.

But it doesn’t have to be this way and you only have to look as far as south Belfast to see it.

Since before they opened, Wing It – operating out of a hatch at student favourite the Botanic Inn – have been strident in their wing opinions. They were going to bring ‘proper’ wings to the city. Normally that’s a menu word that sets my teeth on edge. It carries with it more than the suggestion of arrogance, and looking down your nose, or in Wing It’s case the beak of the chicken-suited pitch fowl so prominent in their social media.

They’re not backwards about coming forward when it comes to their boneless wings either. Not tenders, dippers, nuggets, strips or bites, they insist. Boneless. Wings.

And what do you know? It appears that under the craggy coating that gives them the appearance of decently sized moonrocks, there’s actually wing meat in there. The dark stuff. The good stuff. The best stuff.

Like their bony mates, they come as they are or spun in one of their sauces or a dry seasoning – in this case it’s a liberal dusting of lemon pepper that puckers the mouth in the most welcoming way.

Apart from gravy, where it is clearly an effort to create distance from packets and granules, ‘proper’ most often appears on menus next to chips.

And like chips, chicken wings are a simple thing. It’s incredibly easy to make a mess of and are such a ubiquitous presence on menus it’s no wonder bad ones are as common as good. Wing It’s are superb.

Jointed into drums and flats – it never ceases to amaze me how many places leave the wing whole and as a result either flabby and featureless with the sauce spilling off them or wildly overcooked – their light coating provides both the non-negotiable crunch and the adhesive qualities necessary for the excellent sauces to cling to every crevice.


Wing It. Picture by Hugh Russell


Among those sauces, the Korean is sweet and deep, heady with ginger sesame with a little kick of gochujang chilli paste, while at the other end of the heat scale the Afterburner is a study of blowing you face off, but doing it with a smile. 

After a sweet start, the spice builds slowly, only getting too much by the time you’ve finished one and decided that another is doable. And so the cycle continues.

In between is the classic buffalo, with chilli fire, vinegar tang and butter richness balanced just the way they should be. If a wing place can’t get this right, it’s in the wrong business. Not a problem here.

Their pots of fries are good too, as are sides of mac and cheese – bland but intentionally and necessarily so against the wallops of sauce-carried heat from the wings – and Korean cheese balls with a satisfying chew that makes you consider how many you could get through if there wasn’t a hillock of chicken sitting next to them.

That hillock is so good you’ll only be left wondering if you’ll be judged for ordering another half-dozen, and a few more for the road. Go on. Not a court in the land would convict you.


The bill

Six boneless wings £6.95

20 wings £17.15

Fries £3.10

Mac and cheese £4

Korean cheese balls £5.50

Dips x2 £2

Jarittos x2 £6

Total £44.70

Food & drink