"Don't be chicken," pleads the sign roosting above the new Grillin' Wings & Things, which opened last week in Bonnie Brae in a small storefront space that's seen a slew of sandwich shops open and shutter over the past several years.
Despite the fowl joke, owner Michael Godart and general manager Chris Swanson hope that their new chicken coop, which has a liquor license and several TVs tuned to sports, will fly right in a neighborhood that seems to overwhelmingly favor pizza and pasta, considering that Saucy Noodle and Bonnie Brae Tavern have been stuck there for decades.
But chicken wings (and other things like house-breaded jumbo shrimp, chicken tenders and pig wings) might be just the right food group to turn the tide. "I've always wanted to do a restaurant, but not a fast-food joint, and we're putting out a high-quality product that we think is really good," says Godart, whose chicken wings are offered the traditional way, deep-fried and hand-tossed in sauce, or what he calls "special-grilled." The latter, he notes, are char-grilled with "less sauce," a preparation, he says, that's more popular on the East Coast.
"My wife and I were traveling somewhere -- I think it was Chicago -- and we saw them on a menu and decided to try them here," says Godart, whose tidy menu also gives credence to the old adage "When pigs fly," since he's also pimping mini bone-in pork shank "wings," which are few and far between in Denver's wing houses. And the little pig squealers, he says, are taking flight. "They've been really popular so far, probably because they're just so good," he says.
Godart also has plans to introduce wing "toppers" to his menu -- green chile, Texas red chili, onions, bacon and whatever else he can dream up. "We like to come up with new things, and we're currently experimenting with some fun additions to the menu," he tells me -- and that should include the beer roster, which, to be blunt, sucks, especially the draft selections, of which there are only three: Coors Light, Fat Tire and Blue Moon. Apparently, some novice liquor rep persuaded Godart and his crew that this is what Denverites drink. On the upside, you can get pitchers of all three, and the prices are cheap.
Far better than the beer list are the fourteen wing sauces on his menu, most of which are housemade, and include everything from a sweet ginger Thai to a mango habanero. And all the wings -- pig and chicken -- are served, naturally, with carrot and celery sticks, and blue cheese or ranch dressing.
Grillin' Wings & Things is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Godart says he'll open on Mondays in the near future. The joint also offers delivery to the Washington Park and Bonnie Brae neighborhoods.
Here's a first look of the space and the grub.
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