Wings That Don't Quite Take Off At The Orange Buffalo, Tooting
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On the staircase of The Orange Buffalo's new Tooting branch, there's a mural of a naked baby covered in the eponymous tangerine-tinged sauce. Those on the way up the stairs chuckle, before moving swiftly on. Those on the way back down after their meal recognise it for what it is — a warning.
For this is messy eating. Sure, chicken wings always are, but this is deliciously, kitchen-roll-on-tables messy, the grease dripping down your arms and into your cardboard tray. Sleeves are a no-go, as are light coloured clothes — and we're definitely not in first-date territory here.
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We stick to the 'sandwiches' (burgers) side of the menu — and the tame part at that. The overhead board at the takeaway-style counter downstairs handily offers a heat rating for each of the sauces. It ranges from barbecue to The Viper. The latter is a firm 10 on the heat rating, and requires the signing of a disclaimer before you get so much as a whiff of a wing. Sorry to say we're not that dedicated to the chicken cause (and not many are — according to the staff, it's rare that someone places that order).
As self-proclaimed buffalo chicken connoisseurs, we've eaten our way round various incarnations of the more-ish sauce in London, so the Original is the obvious option here — a tame '2' on the heat scale. The burger wields plenty of satisfying crunch, and we wait for the mouthwatering, vinegary hit that we love about buffalo chicken... but it never comes. The heat teases us, lingering on our lips in a warm but not entirely uncomfortable manner, but it's writing a cheque that the flavour can't cash.
The Original wings venture more into traditional, satisfying buffalo territory, offering a bit more flavour, and served with blue cheese and celery sticks.
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The Asian-inspired K-Town burger does better on the flavour front, the coriander adding a buzz of interest to the multitude of ingredients, the heat teetering on the line between welcome and uncomfortable. Depending on your appetite, sides are a fine addition — the curly fries are a warming dose of comfort food, the chips tastier than your average, thanks to a dusting of spice. One portion between two is ample, unless you're ravenous.
The Orange Buffalo has brought decent chicken to south London — an area where competition's not scarce — and while true buffalo disciples may find the flavour comes up short, the texture, heat and choice is more than enough for casual chicken fans to get a satisfying fix.
The Orange Buffalo, 46 Mitcham Road, Tooting.
Last Updated 03 July 2019