I’m a wing man. Chicken wings are a must-order at the bar, for watching a game with buddies, or just because it’s been too long since I enjoyed a dozen or so. And I’ve been hearing about how good the wings are at Hot Rod Cafe in New London for years now, so it was finally time to fly out and try them for myself.
I had initially planned my visit for a day in March that would ultimately see all the restaurants in the state forced to close. I impatiently waited three months and finally got down to this Bank Street gem in late June. Owner Rod Cornish set me up at a table on the rooftop deck overlooking the Thames River and sent out two dozen beauties — three each of buffalo, honey barbecue, Thai chili, Old Bay, jerk, jerk dry rub, Cajun dry rub and garlic pepper dry rub. The buffalo took a second-place prize at the National Buffalo Wing Festival in 2015, so my endorsement would be superfluous. If I was forced to pick a top three, it would be the garlic pepper, Old Bay and jerk. With varying degrees of heat but consistently great flavor, I know now the hype is real.
Eat in or take out?
Wings to go is never a bad decision, but the rooftop deck on a nice day is tough to beat. Just don’t get startled by the train whistle and drop your wing into your beer.
Hot Rod Cafe
114 Bank St. New London
Hours: Tue.-Sun. 4-9 p.m. Closed Mon.