REVIEW: Hot 'N' Tender, Liverpool
The wing journey begins...
Wings are my favourite food. Spicy or plain, boned or boneless, chicken or vegan. It's simple. They're the fucking best. Now, I'm not saying I'm anywhere near the levels of London's chicken wing king himself, the Chicken Connoisseur, but I'm making it my mission to find the best wings in Liverpool, and sometimes outside of the city if I get a chance.
I feel like I should mention some stuff from the get go. I'm getting the food as fresh as I can; no meal deals nor any indication to venues that I'm reviewing their food. I'm just going somewhere, ordering wings, and having a scran round the corner. Simple as simple does.
If you have any suggestions of places I should check out, wherever you are in the world, simply send them over to @thecactusparadox on Instagram or email us!
HOT 'N' TENDER, LIVERPOOL
Hardman Street is a popular hotspot for bevved-up students after a hefty night out, as it's one of the main routes back to their overpriced box rooms near campus. As such, the uphill struggle is studded with a gaggle of takeaways, with our focus today being set upon Hardman Street mainstays Hot 'N' Tender. They aren't the most famous chicken shop on the block (and trust me, I'll cover them soon enough), but they're a boss place nevertheless.
My first impressions of the wings didn't get off to a good start, as our fella in the shop pulled them from the heated shelf(?) that has become the bane of my fast food eating experiences. Now, I know places do this so they can be efficient when push comes to shove and orders start flooding in, but it can end up leaving chicken strips, wings and pieces all sad and slightly sweaty. So, to my utter surprise, there was an essence of crispiness to them, something I wouldn't ever expect from whenever they were previously cooked. There was also a nice amount of moistness to the meat and, more importantly, a decent dose of heat.
I don't know what they use in the breading, though I'm certain a lot of cayenne pepper was chucked in to make the lips tingle long after the wings have been devoured, but that's the best kind of hot wing; spicy, but not deafening. I'm both sad and happy to say that I only had one disappointing wing out of the five I received, a poor chap that was just a little bit chewy, but overall, four out of five ain't bad.
I've almost become a bit of a price snob at this point when it comes to wings, because I expect a certain amount of product at a certain amount of money, but £2.70 for 5 wings is a pretty good deal for such a central kind of establishment. A wing meal will set you back around £4-ish and again, that's not bad pricing for a gaff only a stone's throw from the bars. I'm just still kinda wishing they were fresher wings.
I can imagine that this is a great place to sit in for a scran pre-pandemic, a rarity in Liverpool's expanse of takeaways, but with the limits, it did feel like I was stepping into a void. On top of that, from a distance, the two fellas behind the counter seemed a bit tense and cold, but when I was ordering, they were super friendly, so don't let appearances fool you. The shop itself was kept quite clean and it had a pleasant colour scheme, though I did have to squint a bit at the menu because of the vast range of food they offer.
Hot 'n' Tender sadly didn't have the freshest of wings, but they were good ones at least. There's a fair amount of competition nearby too, so I'm eager to see how they shape up against these guys, but for now, Hot 'n' Tender is a decent chicken eatery with some fine wings and nice staff to boot. Big recommendation to go here.