The famous chicken wings at J. Timothy’s Taverne have caught the attention of BuzzFeed, Thrillist and The Daily Meal – and as of Wednesday night, they’d earned a place in the spotlight on the Food Network.
The Plainville restaurant, known for its unique wing preparation (fried, sauced, fried, then sauced again) was featured on “Top 5,” a countdown-style program hosted by Geoffrey Zakarian and Sunny Anderson. Wednesday’s episode showcased some of the best and most decadent bar food in the United States.
J. Timothy's came in at #5, joining a list that included bratwurst, Irish nachos, baby back riblets and "animal-style" frites at establishments in Milwaukee, Seattle, Cleveland and Arlington, Texas. During the episode, executive chef Tim Osuch demonstrated the behind-the-scenes work, including the frying process and some secrets to the restaurant's recipes for wing sauce and blue cheese dressing.
General manager Greg Gardner said the network shot the segment at the restaurant back in October, and because of the countdown nature of the program, they had to keep the appearance secret until airtime.
The national TV exposure “means the world to us,” he said. “It’s an affirmation of everything we’ve been doing for 35 years here.”
As restaurant legend goes, the dirt wings get their moniker from a guest who played on the restaurant’s softball team years ago. His nickname was Dirt “as in, older than dirt,” said Gardner, and his wings would get cold as he spent time socializing around the bar. He’d ask the cooks to throw the wings into the fryer again, which created the now-renowned crispy, caramelized texture.
“All the regulars [hopped] on board and started doing it,” Gardner said. “The dirt style, that’s what sets them apart and gives us all the accolades. They’re double-fried, double-dipped, double-good… but double-bad for you.”
The TV honor comes just days before J. Timothy’s biggest weekend of the year. The restaurant expects to sell more than nine tons of the famed wings for Super Bowl 50, taking pre-orders well in advance and assigning time slots for pickup. On Sunday, they’ll sell them only by the bucket - a serving of 35 to 40 wings, weighing in at about 6 1/2 pounds. “I think wing orders are going to be unprecedented this year,” Gardner said.
In recent years, the restaurant has also become a destination for craft beer, with a particular focus on local breweries as Connecticut’s scene has grown exponentially. “Craft beer is a whole other audience, and wings and beer go together,” Gardner said.
The staff continues to be humbled by the national recognition. “For a little town like Plainville…it’s a great compliment all the way around, for years of hard work," Gardner said. "It’s so unusual for a small business like ours. For us, it’s a big kick. It’s such a gas. We’re all enjoying it."