Edition: 2019 Vol. 2 February
The concept started with a simple question. We were sitting around a plate of wings and the teenager piped up with a nearly full mouthful asking, “Who has the best wings in town?”
Realizing such an idea is subjective, we talked it through it. Truth is it really depends on your tastes. Do you like BBQ? Boneless? Without sauce? So at first we dismissed it as an unanswerable question – too many variables and personal tastes. He repeated his question “Yeah, but someone has to have the best…” So that’s what started us off we simply sought to find the best wing in town – and a column was born!
For the wings - we decided on a few ground rules. First, we put a group together to do this and we aren’t food experts. This is not a carefully crafted food show, we aren’t going to wax poetically about the classically trained chefs, or Michelin stars. We are just people like you, we get hungry, we like to eat, we don’t have an endless budget and we aren’t afraid of greasy pleasures. Collectively we are the target market. We also included children in our group as they have an opinion too. It’s usually some of the youngest eaters that determine where we spend our restaurant time and money.
Secondly, we decided to get take out. Why take out? Because a restaurant’s atmosphere determines so much of the food experience, but we weren’t trying to find the best wing place, just the best wing. Would we be sacrificing piping hot and fully crispy food – perhaps? However, really we are like most folks these days, we are always on the go. We don’t always get to choose how or when we eat so let’s see who has the best to go wing. Would they hold up to a car ride? What about being edible after a twenty-minute blitz of errands?
We also tried to come up with an even playing menu as well. Most places offered different flavors of wings, and again that comes to personal choice. We chose to simply ask when we ordered, “which were the best”. That actually served us well and limited our choices. We were not disappointed.
Lastly, we decided to do this anonymously. We talked to a few places and they wanted us to come in and would ensure “We would have the best wing they could make”; but that wasn’t fair was it? We wanted an honest experience – not the red carpet. I’ll tell you too that made a bit of a difference. Some plates were thrown together and shoved in a bag – and the wings, and our opinions of them, paid the price.
So, we set out on our quest to find the best. We tried them fried, battered, smothered, smoked, slathered and sloppy. They were hot, sticky, messy and icky. We tried the dives, the scary places, the fancy restaurants, and the ones with the hot reputation. Did we try them all? Heavens no! Did we try a lot of them? As many as we could get away with!
Here was the criteria of which each container of wings were judged,
· How‘s the Flavor?
· How is the Texture?
· Are they a good value?
· Does it hold up to take out?
· Do I want to eat more?
We chose these categories because they were really in the spirit and intent of what we were looking for. Flavor matters, we didn’t want food from a box – and a lot of the sauces taste the same because they actually were the same. We also didn’t want overly spicy wings – we wanted to taste the food not the burn. Texture was a big part of the conversation, we wanted our crispy wings crispy, and our sloppy wings messy. We did not want soggy, gooey, gluey or undercooked! (It happened!). We decided to include value but we actually found that the price point ended up being nearly the same $9-$12 across the board. Price didn’t factor in as much as we’d thought it would. Next came the take out question – we expected them to be a little colder and not as fresh and we were going to accept that. However, we learned that some were fabulous when we got them back and some were not. That mattered to us a lot. Lastly, since we started with a simple question we wanted to end with a simple question “Do I want more?” We as a group did have to fight over the last wings on some of the plates while other plates we all took one bite and were unimpressed to the point of discard.
So without further ado, we found that the best wing in Mid-Michigan was the
“SIX PEPPER” at Spag’s in Williamston.
When we talked to the front desk person about our choices she wasn’t definitive and left it up to us. Buried on the menu as the last wing choice was the six pepper. We assumed that it was spicy mistaking it for a play on the famous Chinese Five Pepper and asked them to confirm. We were incorrect. They weren’t spicy but rather a black pepper grouping that was blended into a fried dry rub. They were unique right from the get go. We got them back to the wing lab after twenty minutes and kudos they were still hotter than warm. We took the first bite, they were crunchy, and holy smokes were they good!
The flavor was bursting and each of us had the same reaction of wide eyes and an audible “WOW!” It was different, and akin to a salt and pepper chip. If you like salt these are your new best friend. Full disclosure that after a few they were almost too salty – but slog them with a beer and share with friends and they were dang near perfect. Every wing we tried after the Six Pepper wings failed to generate that same first reaction, and that’s ultimately why were the best.
Spag’s is located at 1268 E. Grand River, in Williamston (at the corner of Zimmer and Grand River). It is a place popular with both the bar and family sets. According to their website, “Spag’s Bar & Grill is family-friendly sports bar offering a wide array of the Spagnuolo family’s award-winning pizzas, burgers, calzones, and so much more. Spag’s has a full-service bar featuring tons of Michigan local beers.” We are proud to declare that they also have the very best wing in Mid-Michigan!
Honorable Mention: East Side Fish Fry (Kalamazoo St. Lansing)
The East Side Fish Fry has earned it reputation that’s for sure! Their walls are decorated with accolades and have been featured by Guy Fieri and the Food Network. Their wings were bursting with a tart but sweeter coating that was both a surprise and a delicious bite.
Honorable Mention: City Limits (Saginaw St. East Lansing/Bath)
We tried their Bourbon Wings, and they were super sticky. Great unique flavor that can’t be duplicated. Definitely a plate that you want to eat all by yourself!
If you are up for your own adventure, or find a new favorite, here are some of the places that our friends across the communities recommended we try:
· Arts Pub (Lansing)
· Zanos (Mason)
· Meat (Old Town)
· Kingston (Okemos)
· Orleans (Waverly – West Lansing)
· Leo’s Lodge (South Lansing)
· Reno’s (East Lansing/DeWitt)
· Saddleback BBQ (Washington Sq.)
· Fresh Fish and Fry (Lansing/MLK)
· Eagle Inn (Eagle. MI)
· Buddies (Okemos/Holt)
· Old Nation (Williamston)
· Crossroads (Grand Ledge)
· Cuginos (Grand Ledge)
· Peppinos (DeWitt)
· Westside Deli (Mason)
· Steakhouse Philly (Lansing)
We welcome you to join us next month when we seek to find
“Who has the best…chocolate dessert!”
LANSING, MI. – Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer announced key department directors, including heads of the Michigan Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural and Rural Development, Michigan State Police, Department of Corrections, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Department of Insurance and Financial Services and the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman.
“I am proud to announce a team of immensely talented and representative leaders who are committed to moving our state forward for all Michigan residents,” said Governor-elect Whitmer. “These individuals are experts in their fields and will bring fresh and diverse perspectives to the Cabinet as we work together to address critical issues and improve lives throughout the state.”
Paul Ajegba will serve as director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. An employee of MDOT for 28 years, Ajegba began his career in the department’s Engineering Development Program before rising through the ranks to serve as Metro Region engineer. In 2017, Ajegba was named the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials’ Public Agency Executive of the Year. Ajegba, an Ann Arbor resident, earned his bachelor’s degree from Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas and his master’s degree from the University of Michigan.
“Michigan residents have made loud and clear their concern over the state’s crumbling infrastructure, and no one understands those issues better than Paul,” said Governor-elect Whitmer. “His technical expertise and years of experience mean that we can get to work fixing the roads, and fixing them right.”
The Department of Environmental Quality will be led by Liesl Eichler Clark, co-founder and partner of 5 Lakes Energy, a policy consulting firm that serves businesses, policymakers and other stakeholders seeking to advance the transition to a clean energy economy. Clark, a Howell resident, has also served as president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council and as deputy director for energy programs at the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, & Economic Growth. Clark holds a master’s degree from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree from MSU’s James Madison College.
“Liesl will be instrumental in finding real and lasting solutions to protecting our water resources here in the state,” Whitmer said. “She brings an acute understanding of the critical intersection between environmental safety and business innovation, which will be essential in moving Michigan’s environmental stewardship forward.”
Daniel Eichinger will serve as director of the Department of Natural Resources. Eichinger is currently executive director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, where he helped re-establish MUCC as a driving force for conserving Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage. Eichinger previously served in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. A resident of Lake Isabella, Eichinger earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s of science in fisheries and wildlife from Michigan State University. He also obtained a master’s of public administration from Central Michigan University.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will be headed by Gary McDowell, a farmer and former State Representative who owns and operates McDowell Brothers Farm and McDowell Hay, Inc., along with his brothers Bob and Ron. A lifelong resident of Rudyard, Michigan, McDowell served for 22 years on the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners and for six years as a State Representative for the 107th District. McDowell attended Lake Superior State University.
“A lifelong farmer and public servant, Gary has a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing our state’s agricultural industry as well as critical insights on rural development opportunities throughout Michigan,” Whitmer said.
Captain Joe Gasper, who first joined the Michigan State Police in 1998, will serve as director of theMichigan State Police. Capt. Gasper, a Grand Rapids resident, currently serves as emergency manager for the MSP and has served in a variety of local, state and national leadership roles in his career. Capt. Gasper obtained a bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University.
“Captain Gasper brings both extensive experience and a fresh perspective to this critical position. He is dedicated to protecting our citizens and will be instrumental in ushering in a new generation of leadership at the Michigan State Police,” Whitmer said.
Heidi Washington will continue to serve in her current role as director of the Michigan Department of Corrections. Under Washington’s leadership, MDOC has seen a significant decrease in its prison population and has implemented a skilled trades training program to help prisoners complete career and technical education and be better prepared to find jobs upon release. Washington lives in East Lansing and holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, as well as a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
“Heidi has taken innovative steps toward breaking the cycle of incarceration here in our state,” added Whitmer. “Having implemented a first-of-its-kind program to help prisoners find jobs upon release here in Michigan and extensive experience in the department, Heidi has a track record that will allow us to continue to implement needed reforms to our corrections system.”
Brigadier General Paul Rogers, most recently the Deputy Commander of the 46th Military Police Command, will lead the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. BG Rogers served as the 46th Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and the Chief of Staff prior to becoming the Deputy Commander. Having deployed to Iraq in 2005 as the Battalion Commander of the 507th Engineer Battalion in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, BG Rogers commanded a total of 823 soldiers, 139 marines and 114 airmen in combat operations during the deployment.
“Brigadier General Rogers is a skilled and trusted service member, who has served our nation proudly,” said Whitmer. “He will command and direct the Michigan Army and Air National Guard with the prowess and integrity the role demands.”
Orlene Hawks will lead the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Hawks currently serves as director of the Office of Children’s Ombudsman, where she has worked for the last five years to ensure greater accountability and transparency in Michigan’s child welfare system. Before joining the OCO, Hawks managed the Quality and Program Services section in the Michigan Department of Community Health (now MDHHS). Hawks lives in Okemos and obtained her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University.
The Department of Insurance and Financial Services will be headed by Anita Fox, who brings more than 30 years of experience in the legal field to the role, having specialized in litigating a wide range of business and insurance issues. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College, Fox graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School. She also holds a State of Michigan Secondary Teaching Certificate. Fox resides in Okemos, Michigan.
Office of the Children’s Ombudsman will be led by long-time criminal prosecutor and child advocate Lisa McCormick. McCormick served a 21-year tenure at the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office, where she ultimately became chief assistant prosecutor. McCormick also founded Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center with the belief that every child deserves a safe place for healing. McCormick, a Grand Ledge resident, obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and graduated Juris Doctorate, Cum Laude, from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
“Increased transparency in state government and protection of Michigan residents will be paramount to my administration, and the leadership in LARA, DIFS and the Children’s Ombudsman office will bring fairness, efficiency and transparency to consumer protection services here in Michigan,” said Whitmer.
For additional information and updates, visit www.michigantransition.org.