If you’re going to succeed as a nightspot, your regulars from the neighborhood are your bread and butter. You have to offer something that makes them comfortable. Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar (253 Allen St.) is in Allentown, which means it needs something to please those customers who don’t want burgers, or wings, or any meat for that matter.
When it comes to feeding vegetarians, making them satisfied enough to return, french fries won’t cut it anymore. Which is why Duke’s sells eggplant wings.
“The neighborhood seems to love them,” said Mike Frank, the chef at Duke’s. “I probably sell a case of eggplant a week in eggplant wings.” Which is about a bushel, if that gives you a better idea.
To make them, Frank peels and stems the eggplants. Then he cuts them into wing-size pieces, batons three- to four-inches long by an inch wide. “We flour, egg wash and bread them, so they aren’t vegan, but they are vegetarian,” said Frank. “I use panko breadcrumbs that I grind down, so they stick better and give a more even coating.”
He seasons the flour with salt, pepper, garlic and a little cayenne.
“After they’re breaded, we freeze them so they fry up better,” he said. “Freezing them definitely does the trick.” It delivers a firmer fry with a crispier exterior, and helps prevent the eggplant from turning into mush. Which eggplants are wont to do.
After they come out of the fryer, you can have them tossed hot, medium, mild or barbecue sauce. “Sometimes we recommend that you get them plain with the sauce on the side, for dipping,” he said. “That way they stay crispier longer.”
Duke’s serves up a 10-piece for $10, with blue cheese standard, just like its chicken wings.
“But we have several dipping sauces that we make at Duke’s that we recommend trying with our fries and eggplant wings,” Frank said. They include hibiscus aioli, bacon mustard aioli, lemon basil aioli, and Duke’s house barbecue sauce. You can replace your blue cheese with an aioli, with any additional sauces 50 cents.
Duke’s also makes portabella mushroom fries, but the eggplant comes closer to crispy meatiness without meat itself. “We just keep trying to perfect them, and keep them going,” Frank said.
Info: 240-9359, www.dukesbohemiangrovebar.com.
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