This isn’t your usual Lazy Lightning review. I haven’t reviewed a restaurant outside of the Minneapolis metro area on this site in a very long time and I normally don’t review national chains, even small ones. However, because the MSP metro has 17 locations opening up in the next year and a half and I love wings, I felt it imperative to try one as soon as I was able. Thankfully soon after the original post was up I had the chance to eat at a Hurricane Grill & Wings in Scranton, PA while visiting my parents last week.
This particular Hurricane Wings is located in a mall and takes over for a spot which has housed a number of restaurants over the years, the only one of which I’ve tried was a Ground Round 15+ years ago. The location is cheaply and cheesily decorated with faux distressed/weathered wood and beach-themed flags hanging everywhere. The seating was mainly small booths and due to the size of our party and a child requiring a high-chair, we were seated in their “party room” which was poorly and typically setup in a U-shape with a podium and a line of heated serving trays in the back. While this location inherited space from previous restaurants, it appears more attention was provided to making the space fit the theme rather than making the space tow the company line of being “family friendly”.
Our server was friendly and attentive but lacked intimate knowledge of the menu. Being a connoisseur of spicy foods I ask what peppers are used in the various hot sauces when they don’t make mention on the menu. Unfortunately our waitress wasn’t familiar and didn’t ask the kitchen until I reminded her a second time later. We placed orders for chicken tenders, pulled pork (with a mango BBQ sauce), a hamburger with fried onions, a 20 wing sampler with four different sauces (Ridiculosly Hot Hurricane Sauce, Habanero Lime Toss Rub, Sweet red Chili Sauce, and Thai Ginger & garlic Glaze) which ran the gambit between Category 2 and Category 5 spice levels, and a 10 wing combo with mild and honey BBQ. In addition we placed an order for a 5 wing appetizer (Hot and Sweet Mesquite Rub) and fried pickles.
The fried pickles were out first and were described on the “Starters” menu as, “Caution: They may be addictive! Dill pickle chips fried to a light golden crisp and served with our new Cyclone Sauce for dipping a delicious combination of our spicy Fireceacker Sauce and cool ranch dressing.” Unfortunately, as you can see from the photo, they were heavily breaded and definitely not “fried to a ‘light’ golden” anything because they weighed about 16 lbs each. The sauce itself was oddly spicy but mostly tasteless. Overall while these weren’t the worst fried pickles I’d ever had, they were in the bottom three for sure.
I only tried one bite of the Hot and Sweet Mesquite Rub wings and found the chicken to be nice. While not the best chicken wing meat I’ve ever had, it was meaty and nicely cooked. Unfortunately the dry rub, and I’m not a dry rub fan by any means so take this with as much salt as you want, was mostly tasteless. Not that I couldn’t taste something, but what I could taste certainly didn’t stand out as anything “hot” or “sweet” and definitely not mesquite. Overall I was not at all impressed with the flavor of the dry rub but held out hope that with sauce instead, the great meat would make this wings really shine.
Eventually our meals arrived. My grandmother’s chicken fingers were numerous and large but, like the fried pickles, were heavily breaded and typical. My mother later complained that her pulled pork sandwich was dry and flavorless with the mango BBQ sauce not being able to bring out any discernible sweetness or smokey BBQ flavor. My father’s uninspired burger looked like it came out of a Sam’s Club frozen hamburger box and headed straight into a bonfire meant to burn bones, but he said he liked it just fine. The Wife’s 10 wing combo included the same meaty wings but the one mild wing I had was simply not flavorful at all. While I chalked up the failure of her mild wings to the lack of heat (being mild), The Wife later noted that even though she was really pulling for them her wings were definitely not even of the same flavor quality she could get at Buffalo Wild Wings. Everyone said the fries were fine but the coleslaw was dry and pretty standard fare.
My 20 wing sampler, purchased solely because their 15 wing option only allows two sauces which the waitress said was split in half–yes, she admitted that’s 7 and 8 wings for each sauce which is absolutely ridiculous, included a good mix of sauces across the range of sauces and heat levels.
The first sauce I tried was the Thai and Ginger and Garlic Glaze. While this is rated out a 2/5, it was way more sweet than anything else. In fact, it was syrupy and carried no real distinctive flavor. While I thought the dry rub was what was at fault before, based on the experience with both the mild and the Thai and Ginger Garlic, it appears that Hurricane Grill & Wings’ sauces all suffer from lack of depth.
The next sauce up on the list was their Habanero Lime Toss Rub listed as, “a fiery dry rub of habanero pepper and lime.” However it wasn’t fiery, there was no lime, and honestly, it tasted like chicken with some dry spices rubbed on the outside. As a 3/5 I wasn’t expecting much heat but I definitely expected some tartness from the lime and maybe a little tingle from the habanero. Neither was present and this was just simply a big fail in every way.
While the waitress originally recommended the jerk wings, I chose the Sweet Red Chili Sauce (4/5) which is listed as, “A harmonious glaze kicked with red and sweet chili peppers.” Unfortunately, just like every other sauce so far this was just lacking flavor. The only thing I tasted on this one was sickeningly sweet syrup. It was actually so syrupy and gross that I had to literally choke them down while I gagged hoping they would get better–they never did.
The final one I tried was the Category 5, Ridiculosly Hot Hurricane Sauce described as, “If you’re a fire eater in your spare time, this one’s for you!” Well, I guess that because I’m a full-time fire eater this one wasn’t for me. Containing only cayenne peppers (the waitress finally found out after I asked her a second time and when I asked if she was kidding she said she wasn’t). Seriously? Cayenne? That’s “ridiculously hot”? For a wing place to have this as their hottest is just as lame as their other sauces. HUGE, and I mean RIDICULOUSLY HUGE disappointment here. It wasn’t hot and while it had flavor, it wasn’t pleasant at all. In fact, it tasted like chemicals. It was so bad that I seriously considered not eating them at all. When the waitress asked me how it was and I warned her that my comments weren’t going to be pleasant, she asked again anyway. I told her they weren’t hot, didn’t taste very good and many of the other sauces were just awful. She countered with, “I’m surprised they weren’t hot. I have had people cry after eating these.” Well, I was crying but it wasn’t because they were hot.
Overall, Hurricane Grill and Wings and the $90 meal we had there last week was a major pass for us. 5 adults ordering a huge cross-section of the menu and while those involved with the organization claim it’s ‘food-centric’ all we found this to be was ‘bland-centric’. Great chicken wings are there but their sauces and rubs need some serious reworks and I mean from the ground up. Clearly those developing wing sauces are catering to those who wouldn’t know a good wing sauce from a hole in their head but it’s definitely not going to please any true wing fan and it most definitely will not lure a Buffalo Wild Wings fan away.
Have you eaten at Hurricane Grill & Wings? If so what did you think? What sauces did you try and did you think they had flavor or heat when they were supposed to? What about other menu items? Based on what you’ve seen what would you order if you were to go tomorrow? Whatever you have to say about Hurricane Wings go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Hurricane Grill & Wings
300 Lackawanna Ave
Scranton, PA 18503
See all the pictures from Hurricane Grill & Wings in Scraton, PA on Flickr here.