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WING/RESTAURANT REVIEW: The Ridge (555 Orchard Park Road)
Does West Seneca's Popular New Hot Spot Deliver?
“The Ridge” (555 Orchard Park Road) recently opened this past December and it’s a spot I’ve been enthusiastic to check out for a handful of reasons. One quite frankly is being merely five minutes from where I live. Also, there’s plenty of breweries also serving food around Western New York but nothing in the West Seneca area. Additionally, the concept of prepaying for a card and self-serving your own beer is one unique to this community (I’ve been to a few in Florida when I lived there) and of course most important to me personally, a brand new spot to try wings. With this being my first trip here, we ordered hot wings, medium chicken fingers and french fries. #BallerAlert
Typically, I only scribe about wings when doing these, but seeing this place is literally brand new I’ve got thoughts on The Ridge in addition to their wings. Let’s do it.
PROS: Keeping the focus here purely on the wings, fingers and fries. The wings were superbly cooked with a solid crisp and I’m talking the good crisp--- crunchy on the outside but plenty of tenderness on the inside. So many wing spots pride themselves on crispy wings but taste drier than a desert when taking a bite---unequivocally not the case at The Ridge. Furthermore, these wings were quite large, way bigger than the average spot. I double-checked to make sure and nope, not a baby throwaway wing to be found in the batch. The fries were impeccable and taste-wise, the fingers were perfectly fine. Also, the prices are reasonable by today’s ridiculous standards everywhere---$14 for a single order of wings ($27 for a double), $13 for chicken fingers (four decent sized) and $5 for fries. That’s not bad at all, especially for a brand-new brewery/restaurant.
CONS: I understand traditional hot wings aren’t meant to be tampered with too much, but the hot sauce at The Ridge, while stopping short of calling it bland was a smidge too safe. Don’t get me wrong—not terrible by any means but essentially the prototype for what’s standard hot. That bores me a little bit because the best traditional wings, for me spots like Nine Eleven Tavern and Sonny Red’s come with traditional sauce that slaps you with unique kick and taste. There wasn’t any of that here and I’d like to see that changed, as it’s the lone thing preventing their good wing from being a great wing. Also, the fingers had plenty of taste but were borderline temperature cold when served.
THE RIDGE BAR/RESTAURANT GENERAL OBSERVATIONS
SEATING: Ample seating in the restaurant area, especially for parties of four or less. Like most places the pickings get slimmer if it’s a bigger party. Also, the interior of The Ridge is a lot bigger than it looks from the outside. The tables and booths in the restaurant aren’t on top of each other at all. The Ridge is well done schematically.
BAR(S): So there’s two bars in The Ridge. One’s the traditional bar located on the side of the restaurant where you can get beers, booze or wine. The bar’s long but somewhat narrow. It’s somewhat saved by an additional back row with room to put your drinks and a handful of stools but a little too condensed for my liking especially when the place is busy. We wanted to go to the bar while waiting for our table at around 6:30pm on a Saturday but felt like it’d be a bloodbath getting close enough to order beers, so we passed.
The other bar on the opposite end of the facility is called the Tap Room. Here you prepay for a card containing up to 40 ounces of beer at a time and you use the card to self-pour ounces at the taps. On the positive side seating is plentiful and there’s music banging to make it a good vibe. The card’s good if you want to sample smaller sizes of several beers without having to continuously seek out a server. On the negative side I was taken back at the lack of taps to choose from. The unique craft selections that make brewery’s great are surprisingly limited here and for some reason has Labatt’s Blue Light taking up one of them. I’m told beginning soon they’ll be brewing their own beer so I’ll expect that the selection to change significantly. You also have to go back up to reload your card every 40 ounces which is a good preventive to stop people from getting visibly smashed, but also quite frankly can be a pain the ass.
The traditional bar adjacent to the restaurant is where it’s at with beer selection: ranging like Guinness to Sam Adams, Blue Moon, Great Lakes, Big Ditch and EBC Blueberry among others. If it’s domestic beer you desire the choices are more limited but let’s not bitch about that because hey—this is primarily a craft beer kind of spot.
Drink pricing is on par for this type of place and environment. You’ll pay $7-8 for a pint of the good stuff. A pint of Labatt’s is $5 and other domestic beer is overpriced BUT the undisputed best deal in the house is a 22-ounce Miller Lite draft for just $4. That’s literally incredible for cheapskates like me. Also, there’s plenty of seltzers, wine and booze options if beer isn’t your thing.
Can’t speak of the menu in general because this was my first time there, but there’s a decent amount of options available beyond fryer food---ranging from NY strip steak and apple stuffed chicken to Italian options and choices like beef on weck, reuben and pulled pork.
I should also note there’s an outdoor patio that’ll matter at some point, which as I write this feels like it’ll never not be negative 10,000 degrees again in Buffalo but I digress.
Lastly, I thought the service was great. I went during the busiest time (Saturday early evening) and had about a 45-minute wait, no bad for a place merely a few months old. Once seated the waitress was timely, attentive and polite.
VERDICT/TIER: All in all I think The Ridge is a big victory for West Seneca. Whether you’re going out for date night, meeting the friends for food and drinks or flying solo this is without question a great spot to hit up. Plenty of craft and domestic drink options between the tap room and bar at practical prices with loads of room to socialize in the tap room area.
As for the wings, always the most important feature of anything you’ll see on these pages—they were “pretty good” and I’d have no problem eating them again, and again. I just wish the sauce had a little more taste and kick to it because if they did, these bad boys would be significantly higher on my tiered rankings. As things stand I consider them clearly better than average.
TIER RANKING: “SOLID STARTER”
Here’s my seven tiers with a brief explanation of each.
Mt. Rushmore: The four undisputed championship wing spots of Western New York.
The Elite: The next best thing—right on the brink of being immortalized.
All-Pro: Perhaps not MVP material but categorically deserving of being discussed among the best.
Solid Starter: You certainly won’t be complaining. Exactly what the description reads—solid.
Depth Chart: You can do far worse but at this point — significantly better as well.
Roster Bubble: If left with few other options these places may suffice, but I can’t recommend them.
Waiver Wire: I’d rather eat pizza or something else.