The last few times I visited Stoney’s Bar and Grill, the city was buried under enough snow to hide the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I had to earn my meal by walking in boots that I had yet to break in, on streets that were still thick with accumulation. At the time, I had to get out of the house. My case of cabin fever had become acute.
Once I made it to Stoney’s, my server was as slow as blackstrap left out in Snowmageddon, but my real disappointment was the wings. Big and meaty enough to satisfy an arctic explorer, they were cooked perfectly, but the sauce was a dark mahogany laden with enough salt to raise my blood pressure 10 points. I asked the servers to explain the sauce; they were clueless.
If I hadn’t fallen in love with the Stoney’s of old, I’d have never gone back, but I had too many great experiences at the dive when it was located downtown. My loyalty didn’t pay off. Over three straight visits during the winter, I was met with the same unpleasant, almost acrid wings. A friend’s trusted palate confirmed the matter. I’d given up hope. Stoney’s wings had jumped the shark.
And where the hell was my celery?
Fast forward to early fall, when I’m 15 posts into a seemingly endless bar food bender. Stoney’s siren song called me back with an irresistible combination of lively patrons and Game One of the World Series.
As soon as those wings came to the table glistening, bright, and orange, I knew the problem had been solved. The warm memories of a dingy bar downtown were restored. I never found out what happened this past winter, but I suspect a batch of sauce that had been simmered much too long.
The lack of celery, however, remained a mystery. What good is excess wing sauce without a celery stick to snowplow it across your plate? I’ve asked a couple times, and the best answer I’ve received is that the celery is missing simply because it’s never been there. A traditional accompaniment shunned for tradition’s sake.