550 Dick Rd,. Depew, NY 14043
Web: Duff's (Depew)
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Beef on Weck Chicken Wings Depew Favorites Wings
"On this occasion, the Suicidal was a little less blazing and a little more buttery than on visits to the Amherst Duff's - worth fixing - but still plenty hot, enough to make one of us stop after one wing."
The highest praise we could offer to a new location of Duff's - the best overall place to get chicken wings in Buffalo - would be to say that the food and service is as great as the original location's, within a nicer, larger venue. That's the story with the new Depew location of Duff's, a modernized but still familiar version of the small original restaurant in Amherst; serious wing fans and visitors from out of town now have a great place to visit only minutes away from the airport and Walden Galleria Mall.
On our first visit to the new Duff's - a Friday night - we found the place completely packed, with a twenty-minute waiting line in the entry - a good sign for a fairly large restaurant that has received little more than word-of-mouth publicity since it opened last month. The smell of Duff's classic wing sauces was strong in the air, yet the beat-up chairs and cramped dining areas of the Amherst Duff's were nowhere to be found here; the new space seats roughly twice as many people, perhaps more, and there's a light sports bar theme with flat-panel TVs on the walls and team logos hanging from the ceiling. Decor is simultaneously a little less impressive and a lot less important here than at the somewhat disappointing Orchard Park location, where we liked the looks but weren't totally wowed by the service or the food. Depew's menu is far more like the one from the original Duff's, too - the Orchard Park shop's crazy list of similar-sounding barbecue sauced and other wing flavors is gone, replaced by simple choices: traditional sauce in its varied levels of heat, and BBQ sauce with a hot option. Duff's also continues to offer the French Fries, sandwiches, and beverages - including everything from loganberry to beer - found at the Amherst place. In short, the Depew Duff's is what the Amherst one would look and feel like if it was reconstituted in a newer, larger venue. And that's a good thing.
There weren't any huge surprises here: the service was very typical of the Amherst Duff's, friendly, low-key, and prompt, with female servers dressed in the chain's black spice level warning T-shirts. As with the Amherst Duff's, the streamlined menu made for fairly rapid-fire delivery of our food, which included three different types of wings - "Medium Hot," "Hot BBQ," and "Suicidal," each distinctive and in our "favorites" category. Duff's Medium Hot is the equivalent of Extra Hot at most places, a saucy, spicy wing that challenges the tongue but doesn't lack for vinegar or butter flavor, served crispy but eventually absorbing enough of the sauce in the bowl to become softer and hotter over time.
Suicidal arrives at a level of heat that spice connoisseurs will love, and possibly even find remarkable - unless they dare to try the potentially dangerous and decidedly hotter "Death" wings. We've stopped attempting that feat, and consider Suicidal to be the best hot wing to eat when not on a dare. On this occasion, the Suicidal was a little less blazing and a little more buttery than on visits to the Amherst Duff's - worth fixing - but still plenty hot, enough to make the less spice-savvy of us stop after one wing. The other put down the remaining nine without flinching.
Hot BBQ was another great version, this one comparatively brown due to the dominant sweet barbecue flavor, but with some hot sauce properly mixed in to give every wing a little kick of pepper. So many "hot barbecue" sauces blend their ingredients inexpertly, tossing big red chili pepper flecks or Sriracha into a typical barbecue base; Duff's balance of spice and barbecue flavors both looks and tastes great. We're still bigger fans of the traditional wings, and some people justifiably prefer their BBQ wings grilled either instead of or in addition to deep-frying, but as fried BBQ wings go, these are some of the best we've had.
Other items were largely predictable. A Beef on Weck ($6.25) was good enough to pass our "would you eat it again" test, with nicely sliced, hot roast beef atop a bun that was plump and fresh, but seemingly improvised kummelweck: the salt was fine rather than coarse, and the caraway seeds very numerous. It's not exactly a gourmet version of the sandwich, but it wasn't bad, either, and served with the requisite pickle spear and cup of horseradish. French Fries ($2.25) were typical of the Amherst Duff's, served in one of the same browl bowls used for wings, and overflowing from the sides even in the small portion, leaving more than enough for a couple of people to share. Lightly salted, they remain a good way to bring down the heat level in your mouth after eating wings - or to sop up the sauce if you want a little more after the chicken's gone.
If there's any issue with the new Duff's, it's the pricing: 10 wings are now sold here for $10, with 30 going for $25 - a price boost that would frankly be hard to justify at other wing places. That said, the wings are great, and the improved dining room at the Depew location will be a draw even for fans of the Amherst original. We're holding off on assigning a rating for the time being, but on food quality, we'd lean heavily towards calling the new Duff's on par with the old one, and better than the Orchard Park shop; we'd feel confident sending first-time Buffalo visitors and wing fans alike to this location to sample the area's best wings.