:D-Spot Wings in Maplewood, MN

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

It didn’t matter that we arrived incognito as a small pack of random diners — when we showed up at Maplewood’s newly opened :D-Spot, we couldn’t get Chef / Owner Darin Koch to shut up about his wings. “You’ve got to try the Incredible Hulk green coconut curry wings! Oh, the Black Widow wings are a great choice: The fennel rub on those is intense. And, hey, even though you’re not ordering them, you’ve got to try — and will, in fact, try — our amazing Ginger wings with honey and green chilies. I’m sending some out for you.” (Koch’s background includes a stint at The Butcher Block in Northeast, which launched with a similarly dazzling palette of wing choices.)

When your restaurant’s chef reflexively evangelizes about flavor combinations, scratch-made sauces, and personal favorites, you know you’ve got something legitimately exciting on your hands. Also on your hands: sticky wing sauce, but that comes with the turf.

A couple general notes about the place: The decor is simple and a bit stripped down, a sort of goth dance club-meets-food court ambiance that will probably age well as it gets more cluttered and homey with the passage of time. Also: Generally speaking, all the wings we tried (priced at $10 for 12) were moist and tender. Nothing gristly and tough, and nothing dried out — the basic taste of chicken was on the money through and through.

Now, without further fussing around, and in ascending order of deliciousness, the seven flavors of wings (out of roughly 60) that we ended up trying earlier this week:

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Chicken & Waffles: maple brown sugar, creme anglaise, cinnamon, and powdered sugar

One of :D-Spot’s 11 sweet varieties of wings, there was less to these than met the eye. They had a pleasant maple sweetness, but the other elements were softly spoken. Not bad, not crave-worthy.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Traditional BBQ

A balanced rendition of an American favorite, striking a harmony between sweet, heat, and acid. Eminently respectable.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Muay Thai: coconut milk, peanut butter, and chili

Strikingly peanut-buttery without being grossly so — a profound, pleasing, sticky peanut taste backed up by a quiet kick of heat.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Incredible Hulk: green coconut curry

Richly flavored with a bright undernote (lemongrass, perhaps?), this was an indulgent yet exotic choice.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Caramel Delight: caramel, sea salt, and an (optional) drizzle of chocolate

Chocolate caramel chicken wings: You heard it here first. And they worked. The gentle, understated caramel was close enough to a sweet wing sauce to be a natural fit, and the decent chocolate was set off by the sea salt in a way that somehow spoke to the crispy wing beneath it. Totally worked.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Ginger: honey, ginger, roasted garlic, and green chilies

The contrast between the honeyed crispy chicken wing and the bright, clean heat of the chilies was simple and delightful. The ginger note could have been more pronounced, but, hell, these really tasted good as is.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Black Widow: soy glaze, cracked fennel, and jerk rub

You won’t find a deeper, more pleasingly multidimensional wing in the Twin Cities. The depth and balance of flavor on these suckers was truly profound, with a perfect salt to spice to sweet balance overall.

Wing flavors that we didn’t try but will try next time: Kariboo (coffee, chocolate, ancho chili), MN Wild (wild rice, cranberries, beer maple syrup), Frenchy (caramelized onions with a sweetened balsamic reduction), and Pachadi (mango yogurt curry).

In conclusion: We like that :D-Spot is located off the beaten path. We like that :D-Spot has a clever and beautifully designed Web presence that plays Beastie Boys instrumental tracks as background music. We like that :D-Spot is unpretentiously ambitious, combining earnest scratch cookery with comfort food. We like that :D-Spot serves a decent cheeseburger and tasty seasoned fries with harissa aioli. We like that the folks behind :D-Spot seem to be having a blast with their concept. And we sure as hell like eating their wings.

Maplewood, so long as you keep making these wings, we shall return.

BEST BET: Get the Black Widow: its depth and balance of flavor are unparalleled in the Twin Cities.

 

:D-Spot
705 Century Ave N, Suite B
Maplewood, MN 55119
651.730.SPOT
CHEF / OWNER: Darin Koch
HOURS: Mon-Thu 11am-10pm
Fri-Sat 11am-Midnight
BAR: No
ENTREE PRICE: $5-12
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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18 Comments

  1. I don’t know who to be pissed off at, my wife for dragging me to BWW last night for the first time or at Norton for posting this a day late. Looks like a winner.

  2. Stopped in last Saturday with the family (all 4 kids in tow) and had an awesome experience trying about 8 different wings. Only thing I did not enjoy was fighting off kids to get the last wings … but we remedied that by ordering more.

  3. Just got home from :D-Spot after reading this review. We ordered the El Loco, Black Widow and Chicken and Waffles wings. All were so good, but the highlight was definitely the Black Widow. Incredible flavors. We’ll definitely be back.

  4. Words cannot describe how amazing Darin’s wings are! I’ve had a few different kinds now:

    Incredible Hulk
    Caramel Delight
    Black Widow
    Toxic Avenger
    Chicken & Waffles

    All were equally terrific, but by far, Toxic Avenger wings are the best … I mean, THE BEST!

    I’ve been to a lot of places in my life, in many states, and in a few different countries, but :D Spot is like nothing else I’ve ever had.

    Don’t give it a 2nd thought, just go there NOW

  5. Amazing… As I turned into the lot for the typical McDonald’s lunch, I saw the D-Spot sign and immediately made my detour. I am so glad I did! The buffalo wings were the best I ever had and the fries rocked it out! Going back? Hell yeah, for lunch today!

  6. This place was very different. The wings were different but really good.
    The Iron Man and Black Widow was my favorite. The Muay Thai was really different.. the peanut butter was definately weird.

  7. Joan Riederer01/26/2013Reply

    Got the door open at the D-spot and had to turn around and leave! The smaller than small place was filled with grease smoke!! Couldn’t breathe! We drove a long way to get there and took a long time to find a parking spot… Won’t be going back!!! Btw- very unappealing space. Don’t want to literally rub elbows with strangers…just sayin.

  8. I love D:spot because this place has very friendly people working there. The best part of D:Spot is the wings; there are so many flavors and it is so unique that you can’t find anywhere else. The vibe here is amazing because it brings people together. My favorites are Ginger, BlackWidow, and Voo:Doo. The service here is also amazing!

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