Wing Zone National Chicken Wing Day

Celebration National Chicken Wing Day at Wing Zone

Written by Babs Ofori-Acquah Founder, Working Girl London

Last Friday, on July 29th, was National Chicken Wing Day – yes, that is a real day! The day has been celebrated in the US since the 1970s and Wing Zone, an American franchise which started in Florida is eager to bring it to the UK. The first and only Wing Zone in the UK opened in Finsbury Park at the end of last year, and this was the perfect location to celebrate National Chicken Wing Day.

Wing Zone

We were welcomed to the restaurant with balloons and All-American service with a smile. The team were extremely welcoming and were delighted with the number of people who came to celebrate the day with them. It was a perfect opportunity for them to launch their new menu, which allows you to find your flavour and then customise your meal. On the menu are chicken tenders, chicken wings (of course), and beef or chicken burgers. The main event though, is the sauces. The 9 sauces fit under 3 categories; traditional buffalo, flavour with heat and sweet with no heat.

National Chicken Wing Day Wing Zone

To find our flavour, we started with plain chicken tenders (breaded, boneless chicken strips) and a selection of sauces from different categories; Buffalo Bliss, Garlic Parm, Sweet Samurai and Hotshot. The tenders were okay, nothing special – but the sauces were delicious! It was so difficult to choose a favourite but, because I haven’t had anything like it before, I had to go for the Garlic Parm as the winner. My friend chose both the Garlic Parm and the Sweet Samurai as his favourites.  Based on this, we decided to have our next course – chicken wings – with Garlic Parm dressing, and another set with Honey dressing, as it is in the same category as Sweet Samurai but gave us an opportunity to try something new. Like the tenders, the wings themselves were okay but didn’t blow me away. It was the sauces that really made them! They aren’t cooked in the sauce but they are drenched in it after being cooked, making them sticky, flavoursome and messy – just how I like my wings! The Honey sauce was a nice twist on BBQ sauce – much lighter and a bit sweeter. Next up was the opportunity to ‘build your own burger’ Step 1: Choose beef, grilled chicken or breaded chicken. Step 2: Choose a flavour or go ‘naked’ Step 3: Add a cheese (Blue Cheese or Cheddar) Step 4: Add toppings (Mushrooms, Jalapeños, Onions, Lettuce, Tomato). Unlike most places, Wing Zone offer the cheese and toppings at no extra cost. I decided to have a breaded chicken burger with the Thai Chilli sauce and cheddar cheese. The burger was nice – the cheese and sweet chilli tasted surprisingly good together! Burgers come in a brioche bun with wedges and coleslaw on the side. The wedges had the perfect amount of spice and the coleslaw was light – a good accompaniment to the sweet sauce.

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To wash down all the wings, I had white wine (there is only one option each for white, rose and red) and my friend tried the American beer, Samuel Adams Boston Lager. The wine was nice which was lucky as there was only one option, and the American beer was tasty, a nice addition to the theme. If you’re looking for a bargain, you can get 5 bottles of Becks for only £10! In terms of price, Wing Zone is very reasonable. You can get 10 wings for £7.95, a tenders meal for around £7, a burger meal for about £6 and a number of pack deals for groups.

Wing Zone National Chicken Wing Day Wing Zone

Overall, we were not overwhelmed with the chicken in itself – it was not especially juicy or tender, however the flavours were incredible. I do think Wing Zone has a way to go to see the same success in the UK as it has had in the US. The venue, branding and location do lead you to think of Wing Zone as more of a chicken shop than a restaurant, which is unfortunate because it is certainly higher end than it seems. If they can cook the chicken so that it’s more tender, and do some work on their branding/locations, Wing Zone are onto a winner! As it stands, I think Wing Zone is a good offering if you are in the local area, and, as they have a hot wings challenge, it could be fun as a team social or something a bit different. However, there are better places for wings in London so I wouldn’t travel too far for Wing Zone.

http://www.wingzone.co.uk/

First Encounters of the Russian Kind at ZIMA

Have you ever been to Russia? If the answer is no, then you’re not alone, neither have we! However, if it is true that food is a window into a culture, then perhaps we could say that our appreciation of Russian culture has improved.

Like sport, food has the power to inspire and unite people in ways that little else does. This summer, we set out on an ambitious expedition to visit restaurants in London representing each of the 24 countries (including Russia) taking part in the recently concluded France Euro 2016 tournament. Our aim was to understand the power of food as a catalyst for cultural awareness, bringing London’s diverse communities together.

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Our search for Russian cuisine in London led us to ZIMA Russian Street Food & Bar, a contemporary, cool, and artsy space on 45 Frith Street, Soho. Located right next to the popular Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, we discovered that ZIMA is an engine room for a spectacular transformation that is taking place with Russian food and drink.

What transformation you may ask? Historically, Russian dining had a reputation for being grim and pretentious. For many years, Russian food was stuck in the days when the defunct Soviet Union swallowed up countless other cultures. Restaurant dining in Russia meant being presented with a menu that tried to be everything but usually failed to establish any distinct identity.

Enter chef, writer, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of ZIMA, Alexei Zimin. Through his latest project, Alexei is on a mission to bring Russian food out from the cold to universal appeal by stripping off the layers and reclaiming its simplicity through the street food concept.

To understand the transformation taking place, we delved into Alexei’s journey. Born and raised in Russia, Alexei began his early career by training at the famous Le Cordon Bleu, London. Since then, Alexei has literally gone on to conquer the world of food in Russia. As well as presenting TV food shows, he is also the editor of the acclaimed Russian food magazine Afisha-Eda, food website Eda.ru and co-founder of Ragout, a successful restaurant and cookery school in Moscow. ZIMA, London is his latest endeavour, a strong contender in Soho’s burgeoning street food scene.

We visited ZIMA with Who’s For Dinner’s very own Ronke Lawal and Danielle Linton of KeepitSimpelle. For all of us, the night would be full of first time experiences.

For starters, we skipped the caviar set and were presented with a colourful array of vodkas, home-infused with healthy ingredients including horseradish, fennel and tarragon, cranberry, bilberry and basil. If we were looking for ‘healthy vodkas’ we had found the right place for them!

‘healthy vodkas’

‘Healthy vodkas’

Small plates of venison and beef and herring tartar, infused pickles and a modern twist on the classic borsch complemented the vodkas surprisingly well, dispelling any notions of Russian food being boring.

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Our main courses were served in tapas style, with small shareable platters including short-rib beef stroganoff and potatoes and slow-cooked lamb tongue and buckwheat with an oyster, mushroom, horseradish, garlic tomato sauce. The salmon and corn-fed poussin (chicken) plates were the main highlight. Far from being bland, both dishes were well seasoned with sides of potatoes, fenugreek cabbage, cucumber and radish salad.

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Every time we tried something new, cheers erupted around the table proving that our first encounter with Russian food was a unanimous hit. As we embraced the food, we also embraced a fresh understanding of Russian culture: one that is fun, colourful and expressive. Meeting Alexei in person at the end of the evening for a quick chat was an extra bonus for what was already a great evening.

Eulanda & Omo with Ronke and Alexei Zimin

Eulanda & Omo with Ronke and Alexei Zimin

Street food naturally creates a sense of community and this is something that ZIMA does well in a fun and engaging atmosphere; certainly a worthy addition to London’s reputation as a melting pot of cultures.

To book a table at Zima, 45 Frith St London W1D 4SD, call 020 7494 9111. Walk-ins are also accepted.

This article is part of a social research campaign titled ‘Food, Football and the EU’ which seeks to strip away the preconceptions about cultures and demonstrate how food creates a simple common denominator which helps build communities. Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram using #FFEU16

Writers Omo and Eulanda Osagiede are the co-founders of food, travel and lifestyle blog, Hey! Dip Your Toes In.

A Mix of Classic and Contemporary – Gatti’s Italian Restaurant and Verve Clicquot Rich Champagne 

Written By Fadzai Mankola

This week “Who’s For Dinner?” had the pleasure of attending a dinner hosted by Gatti’s fine dining Italian Restaurant located at Citypoint in the heart of Moorgate.

It was a wonderful evening, full of discovery. Starting the evening off I was invited to sample the new Veuve Clicquot Rich champagne; which is included in their new 3 course set menus as well as the best of Gatti’s tasting menu. It was delicious! I was introduced to a whole new way of enjoying champagne. Retaining the essence of classic champagne and developing this to be served as a contemporary cocktail Verve Clicquot Rich is served as a cocktail. It absorbs and enhances the flavour of any accompaniments you pair with it. I tried it with cucumber as well as red and yellow peppers and it was delicious. Perfect for summer days.

Veuve Clicquot Rich champagne

The champagne tasting was followed by a sampling of one of the set menus. It was a gastronomical journey where classic Italian dishes were given a contemporary twist. For starters I had the grilled scallops with asparagus and crispy Parma ham. It was delicious! Beautifully put together with ginger, garlic and fresh chilli dressing.

Gatti’s Italian Restaurant Gattis Italian Restaurant dessert gattis

For the main course I couldn’t resist their iconic lobster linguine which I can firmly say IS a must order dish. I felt like I was eating in an agriturismos in Italy. The portion was very hearty the lobster cooked to perfection and the sauce was incredible.

Dessert was a trio of desserts; tiramisu chocolate mousse and passion fruit panna cotta. A nice ending to a beautiful meal.

This is definitely my new favourite Italian restaurant and the set menus are good value at £34.99.

http://gattisrestaurant.co.uk/