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Saucey's Wings & Fries

Restaurant focuses on simple, fresh ingredients with an unexpected fine dining touch

Posted: September 3, 2009 2:35 p.m.
Updated: September 4, 2009 6:00 a.m.

Saucey's chicken sliders feature freshly braised breast meat, shredded and tossed in homemade BBQ sauce, which is then stuffed into a straight-from-the oven corn biscuit.

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Wings and fries. So simple and ubiquitous, yet in the wrong hands, they can be mediocre at best. In the right hands, they become something deliciously complex and downright addicting.

The chicken and spuds at Saucey's Wings & Fries in Valencia, which opened just a month ago, are definitely in the right hands. There's over 100 years of restaurant experience under one roof at Saucey's, a festive casual dining spot with red walls, a huge plasma TV screen, funky black, white and red photos devoted to their menu, and an open kitchen where you can watch all the action.

Co-owners Richard Moore, Misty Linne, and chef Marcos Arrana also worked together for close to a decade at a Universal City hotspot and are now putting their collective focus on simple, fresh ingredients with an unexpected fine dining touch.
"We've been perfecting our sauces for years," said Richard Moore, a Valencia resident who originally hailed from Rhode Island. "Sauces are the sign of a great chef, which you don't usually find in a fast food place, but we're very lucky to have Marcus in the kitchen."

Sorry, but to call Saucey's fast food seems blasphemous. Casual touches, such as the paper towels on the table (which you will definitely need), can't belie the quality of the menu.

"These are jumbo wings, the biggest and best we could find, which we marinate in buttermilk and spices, then dredge in flour before frying up to order in canola oil. Our fries are hand-cut to order and we only use fresh Kennebec potatoes from Maine," Moore said. "Everything is so fresh, you can taste the love we put into it."

After frying, wings are wokked over high heat in one of ten homemade sauces: habanero mango ("It's probably 400,000-500,000 on the Scoville pepper scale. We warn people not to eat it," Moore said), buffalo, Creole, honey chipotle, black peppercorn, hoisin, smokey BBQ, sticky lemon, garlic & parmesan, and country fried gravy.

At first bite of the buffalo wing, the tastebuds are met with an unusually rich symphony of flavors: a little zing from the hot pepper, a bit of silky saltiness from the butter, tender, juicy chicken under a crisp crust. It's layer upon layer of goodness.

The black peppercorn demi-glaze may sound like an odd match for wings, but it's amazing, imparting a savory steakhouse essence to the fowl. Honey Chipotle is a slick of deep, dark amber with medium heat notes that alternate between sweet, dusky, and spicy with every tantalizing bite. Country fried gravy is Thanksgiving on a wing - rich, creamy, infused with hints of bacon.

While the wings (5 for $5, 10 for $10, or 20 for $17) soak up much of the sauce, it's impossible not to lick the remnants off your fingers...it was hard enough not to drink the little pool leftover at the bottom of the tray, which had I been in private, would have surely been a different story. (Different sauces can be ordered in multiples of five, so if you order ten wings, you can choose two types).
Seriously, these sauces are so good that I, a dip fanatic, bypassed the smooth lime ranch and chunky blue cheese dressings on offer. It just seemed unnecessary, a shame even, to take away from each sauce's unique personality.

Apparently, I'm not alone.

"We made up five gallons of each dressing the first week and had to throw them away because no one used it," Moore said.
If you're not feeling particularly saucy, Saucey's offers two dry rubs - Garlic & Parmesan or Creole - that create shatteringly crisp chicken skin beneath the spicy exterior. The former is topped with a layer of freshly minced garlic and shredded parmesan that, again, will have you licking up every last bit off your fingers.

Then there's the fries ($3) - a generous order of medium thick, perfectly crisp spuds finished in five different ways: sea salt and peppercorn, garlic, cheddar cheese, gravy (affectionately referred to as "disco fries" on the east coast), and chili.

Like the wings, the fries are made to order and tossed in a wok with their chosen topping. Forget a sprinkling of garlic salt - garlic here means the real deal, minced chunks in a light bath of olive oil and fresh parsley adhering to each fry. The chili is rustic and meaty, the white cheddar and Swiss cheese sauce velvet smooth, both an incredibly tasty way to enhance the already fantastic fries.
At lunchtime, Saucey's offers a "box" deal featuring five wings, an order of fries (any style), and an all-you-can drink cup for a self-serve refreshment station that includes that childhood favorite, Icee, for just $7. (Three boneless strips can be substituted for the five wings or you can choose two chicken sliders, tender, shredded breast meat bathed in BBQ sauce and stuffed into fresh-baked corn biscuits.)

"People think five wings, fries, and a drink won't fill them up, but I don't know many people, including myself, that can eat more than five," Moore said. "I'd happily put our meal up against any other restaurant's chicken dinner."

Other sides ($3) include chopped coleslaw, blue cheese wedge salad, sweet potato salad, chili with cheese and onion, or a heart-stoppingly decadent macaroni and cheese that will ruin you for any other recipe.

Saucey's takeout can be ordered football get-togethers and other events or they can provide full offsite catering service.
"This may not work for cocktail dress and glove type functions, but it's great for families. They can order 20 - 25 wings, a couple of sides, put in on the table while watching ‘American Idol' and have a really fun dinner," Moore said.

Moore and the Saucey's crew, which includes Moore's wife and co-owner Jennifer, also welcome parties of any size to hang out with their family at the restaurant.

"Jen and I are here every Sunday and we're big football fans, so pull up a chair and join us," he said.

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