Restaurant review Wingstop: over here, overhyped, why this fast food chain is the 'lowest common denominator of over-processed grub'

WingstopWingstop
Wingstop
The brand was founded in Texas

For decades, our high streets featured the same foodie chains.

During lockdown, many of these stalwarts closed down, and were gradually replaced by new global players.

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I’m talking Black Sheep Coffee, Franco Manca (pizza), Five Guys (burgers), Pho (Vietnamese food), Popeyes (US fried chicken), Jollibee (Filipino fried chicken) and Knoops (hot chocolate), among many others.

I have a hard time keeping up. In Scotland’s central belt, they’re popping up as fast as urban dandelions.

Now, Edinburgh suddenly has two branches of US ‘fast casual’ chain, Wingstop, with one at St James Quarter and another at Fountainbridge, as well as two in Glasgow.

Apparently, this brand is the UK’s fastest growing restaurant group, and is aimed at Generation Z, who are targeted via a TikTok account that has over half a million followers. In the US, a few branches of the franchise are owned by the rapper Rick Ross, of tunes including Champagne Moments.

I’ve passed both of the Edinburgh branches, and they’re both basic and canteen-y inside, with white and green livery to match their heavy air-force logo branding.

Thus, today, I shall not be darkening their door but will be Deliveroo-ing instead. I’m not unusual, as around 30 per cent of the brand’s revenue comes from delivery.

My usual weekday al-desko sannie and soup combo is going to be swapped for The Flavour Craver for two (£29.50), which arrives about 30 minutes after I order on the app.

We excitedly unwrap it all at the kitchen table. What a stack. This is a grand unboxing, as if it’s prematurely my birthday. I double check that this offering is just for two, but, yes, it really is.

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There are 27 chicken-based items, purely for us little chickadees. The battery farm is really spoiling us.

We start with 12 wings, with original (a tangy and hot sticky concoction) and the russet and piquant spicy Korean. These are scrawny wee flappers. I gnaw the withered edges, and get the jammy gloop all over my fingertips, but it feels like a lot of work for minimal meat.

Another box contains three insole-sized tenders, with a garlic Parmesan coating.

They’re covered in a dense crust, which is obviously the selling point, as the meat inside, contrary to their name, is rather rough and shrivelled.

The best thing is half of our ‘12 boneless’, simply because I enjoy the Brazilian citrus pepper rub on these nuggets, though I’m really not keen on the sickly hickory smoked bbq sauce that I’d chosen for the other half of the contingent.

Throughout the meal, I’m very aware of the vast amounts of salt I’m consuming. I feel as if my guts are fizzing and dissolving.

If I died now, I’m sure I would be as perfectly preserved as the peat bog man. The archeologists would dig me up, in 100 years, and, say, “aah, a 21st century Wingstop woman” and slide me into a National Museum of Scotland vitrine for display purposes.

While everything else is sodium heavy, the chips are unseasoned and truly rubbish.

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They are the most basic of limp frites. Not skinny fries or chunky, but something in-between, and completely devoid of any notable flavour or texture. We were also upsold the voodoo fries (£5.50), and they’re even worse, with a layer of yellow custardy paste that turns out to be some kind of American squirty cheese.

They prompt you to order lots of dips, and we find it hard to tell the difference between ranch, blue cheese and honey mustard, as they’re all sweet and milky.

Pudding is churros (£5.95) with crumbled Lotus Biscoff on top and, apparently, a sweet milk sauce, though I don’t know where that has gone. These dough sticks are incredibly oily. Every bite initiates a punishing gulp of sugary grease.

My goodness, this is the lowest common denominator of ultra processed grub. Even though it’s all pretty gross, I keep going, as if I’m sleepwalking.

For the rest of the day, I have a food hangover, which requires me to drink about five pints of water, and I feel dirty and guilty about the waste - all those wings that we didn’t finish.

Sometimes branding and marketing is everything.

At least I can say I’ve been there and got the badge, but I won’t be asking them to stop by again.

Wingstop

Fountain Park

130 Dundee Street

Edinburgh

(0131-516 1529, www.wingstop.co.uk)

How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £40.95

Food: 3/10

Ambience 3/10

6/20

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