The Ultimate Sports Dish

A number of different foods go hand-in-hand with watching sports, especially for guys. You have the classic pizza dish, a meal easy enough to order and split up amongst your group of pals watching the game. It’s relatively cheap too, and the leftovers make for a great re-heat later in the game. You could also go the route of cooking out; burgers, hot dogs, and barbecue chicken are a staple for sports fans. The game is often maximized when mixed with traditional finger foods like chips and dip, pretzels, and vegetable trays. But nothing is better during the course of a well-played game than chicken wings.

Many sports fans go this route. It’s a legitimate go-to dish during the course of a game. The flavors are endless, ranging from different flavors of buffalo sauce (mild, hot, extra-hot, etc.), sweet and sour, honey barbecue, and bourbon just to name a few. Then there’s each place’s signature wings that have their own unique taste, incomparable to the rest of the world of wings. In all, there’s hundreds of different flavors circulating through restaurants. It’s one man’s dream to find his ultimate pound of buffalo wings, taking into account the meat, amount of sauce, and size of the wing all at once. Often times it’s tough to find the exact dish you’re looking for. For me, however, I’ve found that perfect wing; it just happens to be that the restaurant of choice is a mile from my house.

Located in Allentown, Oliver Shakewell’s is a friendly bar and restaurant atmosphere that has wings above and beyond anything I’ve ever tasted. They have a total of eight flavors (mild, Towering Inferno, hot and honey, GeneralTso’s, Teriyaki Cajun, sweet and sour, BBQ, and Yukon Jack honey BBQ). My favorite, and first ever batch of wings eaten from Shakewell’s was probably seven years ago. I’m a guy who likes spicy foods, although my stomach never agrees with my choice, so I decided to go with the Towering Inferno, their spiciest flavor. I’ve had spicier wings from other places, but nothing as good as these. Shakewell’s doesn’t give you a batch of small wings where it leaves you remaining hungry after the fact. In fact, I can rarely finish a batch of ten when I order them. Their smothered in sauce, and the meat falls right off the bone. My friends and I say that most places are “stingy with their sauces”. But that’s certainly not the case whenever we go to Shakewell’s.

Through my high school years and first two years at college, my friends and I ritualized in eating chicken wings and watching football every Sunday. Surrounded in one of our houses, a group of 6-10 of us would gather to watch football from noon until 8 p.m., create friendly competitions amongst one another based on the current week’s fantasy football lineups, and eat pounds of sauced-induced wings from local restaurants. Whether my team is getting routed on the football field, or my so-called ‘fantasy football stars’ suddenly forgot how to rack up enough yardage to keep my matchup competitive (which happened often), I was always able to feel a sense of satisfaction when it came to the chicken wings spread out over the table.

I particularly remember Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 between the New York Giants and New England Patriots. No one gave the Giants a chance, and either did any of us. Packed like sardines in the basement of my friend Jimmy’s house, eight of us gathered to watch the sports world’s biggest event. On a day in which chicken wings are the choice of food, there was no question what we’d be eating during the game.

So, after gathering approximately a half hour before kickoff and ordering our wings from Shakewell’s, the eight of us walked across the street to pick up our hefty order. It was certainly a plus that Shakewell’s was within walking distance of Jimmy’s house. We walked in with nothing, and came out with pounds of chicken wings–ranging in sauce from BBQ, hot and honey, mild, and Towering Inferno–packed with celery and ranch in large styrofoam containers. We entered his basement–the ultimate man cave compiled of sports memorabilia, team pennants, and video games–and began the feast.

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An order of barbecue chicken wings from Oliver Shakewell’s.

Spread out like a buffet on eight or so fold out wooden end tables, the eight of us began placing our specific wings and beverage of choice in front of us. Just the smell of four or five different wing flavors was enough to satisfy your needs. Flavors or Towering Inferno, hot, mild and BBQ flooded the air, and we began examining each other’s batches to see who got the most favorable order. We couldn’t wait for kickoff, so we decided to begin. Almost simultaneously each of us began the feast, using our teeth to clean each bone of all its meat. There would be nothing left for waste by any of us.

As kickoff approached I surveyed the rest of the group. Predictions were flooding around the room, with the consensus siding with New England to win by at least double digits. No surprise there. Chris, a fan of Oliver’s Towering Inferno as well, was more into his wings than the actual game. Sauce surrounded his lips, almost as if he accidentally missed his mouth. But that didn’t stop him, or any of us for that matter, in continuing the feast. My finger tips and mouth covered in sauce too, I asked Dom, since he was the closest, a question that no man wants to hear when eating chicken wings. “Can you pass the paper towels?” He looked down at his fingers, which were just as stained in sauce as the rest of us, and back up to me. “Nevermind,” I said. I made the five foot trek to its destination, and proceeded to use my forearms and elbows to rip off a few sheets of precious paper towels.

With some of us ordering two pounds of wings, the eating continued into the second quarter before the inevitable started to eventually kick in. There was only one bathroom in Jimmy’s basement, and none of us were brave enough to accompany his parents upstairs and use their toilet. Let’s just say that the second half consisted of many of us using the bathroom, and leaning back on couches fully satisfied with our food choice.

I’ve tried wings from other places, but there has always been a problem. One place may have decent size wings, like  P.J. Whelihan’s does, but I’ve usually not be granted with the amount of sauce like Shakewell’s. Woody’s wings, just across the street from Shakewell’s, shouldn’t even be considered in my opinion. They may be a few bucks cheaper (if they are at all) but the size, sauce and taste don’t even match. I can recall a number of times seeing their wings, probably half the size as Shakewell’s, and bitten into them noticing how much they were overcooked. You get 10 for an order there too, but I’m always hungry afterwards. I need a slice of pizza or two from Woody’s if I’m even thinking about getting wings.

Any time we get together for a football or basketball game, the choice is usually Shakewell’s wings for me. I rarely even look at a menu, and I pretty much have my mind made up before I even walk into the restaurant. If I’m in the mood for chicken wings, I’m going to Shakewell’s. I don’t say, “I think I’m hungry for Shakewell’s today”; if wings are on the agenda, I’ll drive the mile trip to pick them up. Wings may be the messiest of any foods, especially at Shakewell’s since the sauce drips down the palms of your hands constantly. But that’s a flaw I always seem to overlook. Others may be turned off because of their prices ($7.99 for 10 wings), but I feel that price is reasonable for what you’re getting. They go perfect with your favorite alcoholic beverage, and I’ve never been left dissatisfied. It’s a perfect meal that will hopefully result in a good ending for your team.

Just last week, in the midst of the NBA Playoffs, my friend CJ and I chose to sit at Shakewells’ bar. We ordered a pound of wings each and a few alcoholic beverages, and watched Game 3 of the Spurs and Warriors game unfold. It was a good one, with the Spurs pulling out a 10-point win in the end. The wings were just as good as the game. We got to Shakewell’s with a few minutes left in the first half, and ordered our wings just prior to halftime; I got 10 mild and CJ ordered 10 BBQ (he never orders anything different). With flat screen TVs hovering over us at every angle, we had a clear view of the game until the wings arrived just before the third quarter began. After taking a few whiffs of the smell–a smell strong enough to burn your nostrils if you get too close or breath in to deep–we began instantly. Wing after wing we would dispose of the meat, lick our fingers of excess sauce dripping down our palms, and toss the bones into an empty basket. “Best wings I’ve ever had,” I stated after three or four. “Definitely man, you can’t go wrong with Shakes,” said CJ. I looked over as his eyes remained set on that one single wing. “So good man,” he stated briefly. “Another Coors Lite?” the bartender asked. “Yes,” the both of us replied.

The game was winding down, and so was our night. The wings were all gone, and the kitchen was about to close in an hour or so. “Ready to head out of here?” asked CJ. “Yea let’s get the bill.” Suddenly, I knew there was something missing to cap off the night. “You guys ready for the bill?” asked the bartender. “Can I actually get 10 more mild wings to go,” I said. “Certainly.”

“You barely finished the first 10, and you’re getting 10 more?” asked CJ. “They always make for a great meal the following day,” I explained. My night was complete.

 

Oliver Shakewell’s is located at 1869 South 4th Street in Allentown, PA. Give them a call today at 610-797-1924.

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