I’m finally back at it after adjusting to live with a child. Just starting to find a new rhythm. After finishing up a round of Whole30 to kick off the year, what better time than now to jump back in the deep end of my quest to seek out the best wings in Washington, DC. It was my wife’s birthday yesterday and she was craving a Reuben, so we opted for the Carving Room a few blocks from Chinatown. Perusing their menu on-line, I was very intrigued by two things: homemade pickled vegetables (I love of vinegar) and Honey Harissa chicken wings.
If you’re not familiar with harissa, it’s a spicy, aromatic chile paste that is rooted in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. The chilies give it a deep red color that tastes as spicy as it looks. My first encounter with harissa was at Cava. The Greek restaurant serves a variation of the condiment containing a base of stewed tomatoes and crushed red pepper along with pita to every table. If there’s one thing I’m enjoying much more than I thought I would seeking out wings across the District, it’s when someone comes up with a slight twist that makes their wings truly unique. It was an intriguing concept, and it did not disappoint!
How they rate: Carving Room, Honey Harissa Chicken Wing Review
The wings were slightly overcooked, but not too greasy and with a decent snap in the bite. Just enough of a crunch was present to give them a nice balanced texture. I would have liked them to have been a little juicier.
The consistency of harissa is similar to a tomato paste. Imagine trying to spread tomato paste on a chicken wing. It’d be fairly impossible to coat it really well without biting through LOT of it. Though not an even coating, there was no shortage of harissa on the wings. The honey may have done more to help with coating than it did to help the flavor.
Thanks to some slightly chapped lips, the first few bites had my lips buzzing from the heat. I didn’t get much sweetness, but I was fine with that. Though hot, the heat does not detract from the flavor. They had a bright chile essence with a hint of garlic and olive oil. The wings had an old-world cooking flavor vibe happening that had me missing my grandmother’s food.
From Start to Finish:
Though I really felt the burn in the first few bites, the heat mellowed a bit as I worked my way through the plate. I would label these on the hotter end of my tolerance level. I enjoyed them thoroughly from start to finish, thanks in part to a fun twist to the accompaniments.
The dipping sauce was ranch. Our waitress informed me that they do not have blue cheese. I’m not sure if blue cheese would not have paired well with these flavors, so I was not overly disappointed. The Carving Room more than made up for it though with plenty of celery and a fun, surprising addition that really put the accompaniments over the top: pickled carrots. I guess when you’re at a restaurant whose main fare is the sandwich, one wouldn’t be surprised to see freshly pickled vegetables…but having the carrots as a part of the wing plate was brilliant. It really put the dish over the top for me. It’s also worth noting that the wings were delivered with several packets of hand wipes. I like when I don’t have to ask.
$12 for 8 wings | $1.50/wing
$21 for 16 wings | $1.31/wing