Best Bites: Norm's Grill
1127 North Avenue, Burlington 862-4300
It's a pet-peeve of mine that most spots don't allow customers to try more than one flavor of wings in a moderately sized order. Norm's Triple Crown ($8.99) gave me the opportunity to taste three of the five varieties of chubby chicken parts on the menu. The best of the bunch was the "Manly" buffalo flavor. If you feel like spice, ask for hot sauce — these are not as intense as advertised. If, however, you're in the market for startlingly complex and vinegary poultry, these will make you more than happy. All sauces are homemade, including the rich blue cheese and mild ranch dressings. Even under heavy sauces, the Asian and Buffalo wings stayed crisp. No such worries with the Zing Wings — they're dry-rubbed.
Norm's boasts a remarkably long list of appealing sandwich options, all named after sports figures, but I couldn't resist trying the ribs ($17.99). Marinated in a sauce of apple cider and Long Trail Ale, the tender braised-then-grilled meat benefits from a slight bitterness mixed with sweetness. The chipotle barbecue sauce, brushed on at the end, lends just a bit of tang.
The ribs were swell, but the sides were even better. The fries on the overflowing plate were cut bistro-thin and battered. Picture an upscale version of Burger King's. The night's veggie was grilled asparagus — perfectly seasoned, slightly al dente and truly exquisite.
Feeling more like pizza? It's made from scratch with a supremely satisfying chewy thin crust. The barbecue chicken pie ($12.99) had both tomato and barbecue sauces, which combined for a tangy, smoky but still fairly traditional taste. Chunks of white meat chicken were large, tender and remained juicy, as did the onions. Both pizza and ribs made it home for a second round. Needless to say, I'll have to wait for next time to make room for the Molten Lava Cake.