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Fine dining in Greensboro, NC


foodiehall
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Hub and I will be in Greensboro for several days in mid-March. Since we'll be attending basketball games most of our waking hours, we'll have only one--two at most-- opportunities to eat dinner away from the Coliseum area. Since we haven't dined in G'boro in at least a couple of years, we're looking for recommendations/links to fine dining establishments there....please, no barbecue places. Thanks for your help.

CBHall

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Undercurrent - downtown

Bistro Sophia - Guilford College area

Southern Lights - casual, near downtown

Saigon - Asain near coliseum

Sushi 101 - Tate street, most decent sushi in GSO.

If you are comming in town for ACC get reservations now, places line the Undercurrent fill up weeks out, and one week out on a normal weekend. Saigon does not take reservations and will also be packed that weekend. Let me know specifics and I can reccomend more.

Nate

Greensboro

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Undercurrent - downtown

Bistro Sophia - Guilford College area

Southern Lights - casual, near downtown

Saigon - Asain near coliseum

Sushi 101 - Tate street, most decent sushi in GSO.

If you are comming in town for ACC get reservations now, places line the Undercurrent fill up weeks out, and one week out on a normal weekend.  Saigon does not take reservations and will also be packed that weekend.  Let me know specifics and I can reccomend more.

Nate

Greensboro

Thanks for your response. Yeah, I learned long ago to make reservations weeks in advance when coming to the ACC tournament in Greensboro or Charlotte. Looked at the website for Bistro Sophia and found it interesting....was this place known as "The Madison" or "Madison House" in another life? Some years ago, we ate there a couple of times....restaurant was in what had been a mid-size house on Dolley Madison Rd. in/near Guilford College, had quite an extensive wine list. I was not successful in getting info on Undercurrent....can you clue me in on this one? For Saturday (and maybe Thursday) night , we're interested in getting away from Coliseum area. Not that interested in Asian....on this trip. During last several years, have been to Leblon (sp?) a couple of times....it was fine, but would rather go elsewhere this time. Again, thanks for your help.

CBHall

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I am a native of Greensboro and sometimes have the chance to dine there with my folks when I visit them. Yes, Bistro Sofia is in the old space occupied by a restaurant called Madison-something. (I think it was Madison Park, but I'm not sure.) Sofia is a lovely place, I remember really enjoying our dinner there. Unlike most places in Greensboro, they actually make their desserts in-house, including a nutella ice cream that's pretty renowned.

Undercurrent is on Elm Street downtown. We ate there on my birthday a few years ago partly because the chef is an alum of my own culinary alma mater, and the head of my culinary school was pretty impressed with the food there. I remember Dad's country pate was one of the hits at the table. The food is solid and mostly American-focused.

I have heard good things about a place I think called 221 South Elm, which would be pretty close to Undercurrent. Bert's Seafood Grille on Market Street is a fairly classic Greensboro restaurant, everything I've had there has been pretty much spot-on and it's very charming in its casual way (menus on blackboards, that sort of thing).

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Madison Park, yes. Was a nice place it was. It burned and they never rebuilt.

Undercurrent makes its own pate and it is always great.

221 S Elm has a by far the most innovative menu in town, and a young ambitious chef, but my dishes are hit and miss when I go, some are nice and others dont work or come out wrong. I have not given up though and hope to see them succedee.

Liberty Oak is also a town favorite and delivers well prepared food at good prices. Its a lot like Southern Lights.

Best Indian is Saffron.

Nate

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I ate at a number of places around Greensboro for a food travel story about two years ago. I liked the energy at Liberty Oak, with the open kitchen arrangement, and I enjoyed Undercurrent and Bistro Sophia. But I was really knocked out by the menu selections at Bert's Seafood Grille. It looks like a typical seafood restaurant, and it has all the expected things -- broiled stuff, fried stuff, shrimp. But when you look closer, the menu gets interesting. They had fish that I didn't think was available in North Carolina at all. The owners do a good job of having high-quality seafood flown in.

While you're near the coliseum, there's a bizarre food store that's worth checking out. It has tobacco in the name -- Tobacco USA? It used to be a place to buy cartons of cigarettes, but they started adding food. Now it's a gourmet warehouse. And if you really have interest and time to buy good food, Giacomo's, the Italian "pork store," is well worth a stop. And it's not that far from the coliseum either. 4 or 5 miles, maybe?

Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

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Thanks for your response.  Yeah, I learned long ago to make reservations weeks in advance when coming to the ACC tournament in Greensboro or Charlotte.  Looked at the website for Bistro Sophia and found it interesting....was this place known as "The Madison" or "Madison House" in another life?  Some years ago, we ate there a couple of times....restaurant was in what had been a mid-size house on Dolley Madison Rd. in/near Guilford College, had quite an extensive wine list.  I was not successful in getting info on Undercurrent....can you clue me in on this one?  For Saturday (and maybe Thursday) night , we're interested in getting away from Coliseum area.  Not that interested in Asian....on this trip.  During last several years, have been to Leblon (sp?) a couple of times....it was fine, but would rather go elsewhere this time.  Again, thanks for your help.

Bert's is a great choice. not just a simple fish place in my opinion. triaddiner.com has sample menus for undercurrent. Have not been but it gets consistently good recs from people I trust. I think there is still another restaurant on dolley madison if memory serves correct. also try revival grill(revivalgrill.com) - a block away from bistro sofia.

leblon has changed to a churrascaria

I would definitely second the rec for giacomos. only 5-6 stoplights from the coliseum. try any of their house made meats. I am particluar to the pastrami and the hot soppressata. they also make their own breads, salads and desserts(cannoli, tiramisu, palmiers) (salamisbymail.com)

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Bert's is a great choice.  not just a simple fish place in my opinion. triaddiner.com has sample menus for undercurrent. Have not been but it gets consistently good recs from people I trust.  I think there is still another restaurant on dolley madison if memory serves correct.  also try revival grill(revivalgrill.com) - a block away from bistro sofia.

On Dolly Madison next to BSophia, Cafe D Arte is a pretty darn good Italian place that is serving some of the only real non-roman melted cheese sudo american italian that you can get everywhere else. Their food is all fresh and each dish represents a different part of Italy. Its a nice place to dine too.

Marios buy the way is hands down the best NY style zaa in town.

Giacomos rules, a must for lunch and a staple for home cooked Italian meals. They make motz every day and is the bomb. They simmer meatballs and sausages in gravy all day every day, a good sandwich results.

Nate

Edited by nhconner (log)
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Giacomos is indeed fantastic...a great place to pick up some subs for your lunches. However, it is not that close to the coliseum...maps.google.com places it at 3.4mi, and it is way more than 5-6 stoplights away. (Most of the trip is along High Point Road, one of Greensboro's busiest thoroughfares.)

If you drive to Giacomos, another mile or so farther out HP Road there's Jerusalem Market. They have kickass falafel sandwiches at the counter in the back, on Bedouin style pita with hot sauce. :wub: I've been eating there since they opened back when I was a teenager. Nice spinach pies and pistachio baklava too. Plus it's about the only place in Greensboro where you can get things like rose water or bulk fennel seeds.

These are not the "fine dining" options you requested, though. If you want casual eats close to the Coliseum, I think your best bets are Stamey's BBQ (sorry, I know you said no BBQ, and they will be MOBBED that weekend) or Ghassan's which had a location nearby last I remember for chicken skewers, Greek salads and great steak subs.

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Wow....had no idea there were this many interesting places to eat in Greensboro. And here we were thinking that the Gate City Chophouse was the best thing going there....we've had some decent meals there but kept thinking that there must be something else in a place the size of Greensboro. Have nothing against barbecue; we're already set up for 'cue a couple of times during our stay. Too bad we only have 2 nights to work with on this trip; hub said we'll have to find reasons to go to G'boro more often. Anyhow....I had to start somewhere so I made reservations at Bistro Sophia and Undercurrent. And of course, I'll make reports upon my return. Many thanks for all the suggestions! :smile:

CBHall

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While you're near the coliseum, there's a bizarre food store that's worth checking out. It has tobacco in the name -- Tobacco USA? It used to be a place to buy cartons of cigarettes, but they started adding food. Now it's a gourmet warehouse. And if you really have interest and time to buy good food, Giacomo's, the Italian "pork store," is well worth a stop. And it's not that far from the coliseum either. 4 or 5 miles, maybe?

Tobacco USA is moving to a location on Market Street (just off Holden) so it won't be near the coliseum when you come, but i may still be worth the trip. I think they are going to focus on gourmet/coffee stuff in their new location, but it will be interesting to see!

Giacomo's is FANTASTIC and not only are the folks there great, they have a new "branch" on the corner of New Garden and Battleground Ave. I'm not sure which is closer to the coliseum but the Battleground branch may have less of a crowd around ACC tournament time.

Bistro Sofia is yummy and one of my favorite places. I was there for dinner this past Sat and asked for a nice wine to go with my steak and my dinner companion's duck. I was reccommended an absolutly fantastic wine in the price range I had requested. They have an awesome wine list. (an aside, I think one of my students may have been responsible for burning down Madison Park but I'll never be sure :unsure: ).

Saigon is very, very good but there is some good Vietnamese (basic everyday) at Pho Hien Vong (on Spring Garden near Market St) and also in that area is a fantastic Mexican taqueria called Taqueria al Azteca. The shrimp cocktail (coctele de camerones) is incredible and a deal at I think still $9-10.

I like Revival near Guilford College as well. Stay away from Red Oak. The beer is great (and you can get it at many other restaurants) but the restaurant, sadly, sucks.

And if you're near the coliseum and craving barbecue, Stamey's is a classic and pretty darn good.

More as I think of it...how many meals do you have? :laugh:

Anne

edited to add: oops I missed you wanted no barbecue! I agree with folks regarding Liberty Oak, Southern Lights and Bert's Seafood as well. Both excellent and interesting. Check out downtown, there are a lot of cool restaurants there now (including Liberty Oak!).

Edited by chemprof (log)
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While you're near the coliseum, there's a bizarre food store that's worth checking out. It has tobacco in the name -- Tobacco USA? It used to be a place to buy cartons of cigarettes, but they started adding food. Now it's a gourmet warehouse. And if you really have interest and time to buy good food, Giacomo's, the Italian "pork store," is well worth a stop. And it's not that far from the coliseum either. 4 or 5 miles, maybe?

Giacomo's is FANTASTIC and not only are the folks there great, they have a new "branch" on the corner of New Garden and Battleground Ave. I'm not sure which is closer to the coliseum but the Battleground branch may have less of a crowd around ACC tournament time.

I'm glad to hear Giacomo's is thriving. He's a neat guy with an interesting backstory. As I recall (from a two-year-old memory, so forgive me on all the details), he was from a New York meat market family. He wanted to be a firefighter, but then 9/11 happened and he ended up coming south and going into the family business. He calls it "a pork store" in the way that people in NY and NJ know that term (and with the same accent -- "po-WK sto-wah").

Looking back in my files, I also noticed another one worth checking, the wine store Zeto. The owners were interesting and knew the area.

And I had the same reaction others have: You just don't expect G'boro to have much going on in food, Winston-Salem and High Point usually get the attention. But when you dig around, you find an eclectic and intriguing mix. Somebody I interviewed there pointed out that with several universities and colleges, it has a good ethnic mix and enough professors to keep the small places going.

Maybe that's a good thread for e-g: The connection between food and academia. You really see it in Chapel Hill/Durham, but I bet it's the same across the country. Wherever you've got professors, you've got good cheap wine, decent espresso and a demand for Euro ingredients!

Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

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I would never call Greensboro a destination city for your average food nerd. However, if you do a little digging, it has better options than many other cities its size. Kathleen, I've long been surprised that the number of colleges and universities around Greensboro hasn't had MORE of an impact on the culinary scene, though obviously things have changed since I moved up to DC in 1996. (Although Bert's, Liberty Oak, Southern Lights, Ghassan's, Saigon and Stamey's were all open back when I lived there.)

One other interesting thing about the Greensboro scene: there are a couple of very good chains that originated there. Ham's is one example...my dad used to eat at the original Friendly Ave. location when he was in high school. I still like the house-fried potato chips there; that chain is the reason why so many table-service sandwich shops sell house-fried potato chips in NC. I am also a fan of Lucky 32 which has at least one other restaurant in Winston-Salem--I like the American menu, the gentle prices, and especially the monthly "focus" menu with a regional or international cuisine. They mix a decent martini, too.

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I think that greeensboro actually has a good culinary scene for a city its size. The colleges have a definite impact. GSO clearly has better options that HP or winston(and I live in winston) It excels in the triad on the asian front and in upscale options. The large vietnamese pop gives greensboro lots(more that a dozen or so) of east asian grocers, 4 vietnamese restaurants(I also agree with the Pho Hien Vong rec as their quality has risen in the last two years) several vietnames cafe/coffe shops. There are at least 3-4 indian places, 3-4 Thai restaurants and several indian stores

Lucky 32 is in my opinion underwhelming. I would love to support them because they do have good ideas(seasonal menus) but their food has been nothing special on my visits to their Winston location. I would chose berts or revival as better options.

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Re Lucky 32: Raleigh also has one of these. We've found this to be a good place for large family groups (like my extended family) which consist of 15-20 people at a meal, 3 generations w/ 75-yr. age span, various income levels, various likes/dislikes in food, etc. Everybody can find something they like at Lucky 32.

Re Bistro Sofia: A couple posters on this thread have commented on the burning down of Madison Park restaurant...yet when I went back to Sofia's website and looked at photos, the exterior of the building sure looked like Madison Park, albeit with some spiffing up. Photos of the interior looked like a different place, however. And the directions given on the website sound like the directions to the former Madison Park. Perhaps the front part of the Madison Park building was not destroyed, just the back? Just curious.....

CBHall

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Madison Park burned inside, kitchen fire I think?, and it was simply renovated. They had a pretty big old school wine collection that I only took advantage of as a student on my parents bill. A 51 Croft and some stilton was an early eye opener. They auctioned it off when they closed, but it was in a 65 degree basement and there was a fire and they warned about heat damage. I always wondered who bought all that classic Petrus and how its holding up. There was a 61 in there I think.

I was born a raised here, left for nine years and came back. The food scene has gotten much better. I agree on the benefit of the Asian restaurant and grocery presence, its a nice addition.

I also don't think Lucky 32 is a destination. Not bad food, but not one of the top spots here. Green Valley Grill in the O'Henry Hotel is owned by the same folks and is much better IMHO.

Zeto is my favorite wine shop in town, and is also the smallest. Great owners that are always there and a have wine selection they have tasted and approve of. Some unique Italian high end stuff too. Ask Sue.

1618 West Seafood Grill, is a popular newcomer and is quite good. The dishes try a little too hard sometimes, but everything is always very fresh, pretty good drinks at the bar, because you will wait without a rez. On par with Berts, but very different.

Giacomo's on High Point road is 5 min from the coliseum. The other spot is 20. Go and get lunch. Its as good as many of the spots Ive been taken to in Philly and NYC. Well maybe a tick less considering the latitude ambiance factor.

We have a Ruth Chris here if thats what your looking for. When they do it right it is hands down the best slab in town. Gate City Chop is doing a great job, but meat for meat on the rare side of medium-rare, the big chain reigns. The wine list is an abomination though. Typical wines are a %150 markup over retail. Corkage is the way at GSO Ruths.

Natty Greens downtown does good bar food and has some pretty good suds brewing worth a few pints. A very popular evening destination.

Downtown there is also Cafe Europa which is a good deal.

Hey, I read in the paper today we are getting a Red Robin. Who will win the Applebees Ruby Tuesdays war with a west coast chain in town. Ill just have to take someones elses word on that one.

Nate

Edited by nhconner (log)
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  • 1 month later...

Just had lunch at Taste of Vietnam. This is in the Staples shopping center (accros from Costco) at the Intersection of Wendover and I-40. This location is going to be tough, but my lunch was outstanding. I had Vermicelli with grilled shrimp and pork and springrolls.

Now this is a dish I get often at Binh Minh, Pho Hien Vuong and Saigon, but this was the best version in all respects. Although it was the smallest portion of the three it was just right and the price was in line with the others, and slightly less than Saigons. The shrimp was fresh and not overcooked, the pork was seared crusty and was juicy and the spring rolls were both crisp on the outside and crunchy on the inside. There were many garnishes and the sauce was balanced. I was really impressed at the pureness and cant wait to try more. This could become a real favorite Asain for me if this quality is on par in other dishes. I will really know when I dive into there whole fish stuff, but next is the Pho. Cant wait to return.

Glad to have another great SE Asian spot in an unlikely city.

Nate

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Just had lunch at Taste of Vietnam.  This is in the Staples shopping center (accros from Costco) at the Intersection of Wendover and I-40.  This location is going to be tough, but my lunch was outstanding.  I had Vermicelli with grilled shrimp and pork and springrolls. 

Glad to have another great SE Asian spot in an unlikely city.

Nate

I stopped in for a takeout menu this weekend. This will be a real tough location. But if you are looking for an alternative in chain heaven then this should be a respite. THey were empty @ 7 on a Saturday, though they have only been open a month or so. I will have to give them a try. Very pretty room. I did not notice but do they sell beer/wine?

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Giacomo's has opened a second full-service shop on New Garden Rd, just off Battleground near Brassfield Shopping Center. Same strip center as the excellent Danny's (whose breakfasts I have long adored). My folks live right by there, so it's great to get a pig fix without schlepping to High Point Road.

ETA: I see this was already covered upthread, but I had missed it somehow...and was thrilled to pass the new shop on my way in on Monday!

Edited by Malawry (log)
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Also close to G'boro is Lexington... come eat at www.SouthernCuriosity.com

Fine dining, casual atmosphere and NOT BBQ

Treat everyone the same, like a VIP...

Something gave its life for what you are about to eat... Respect the food...

"Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all."

-Sam Ewig

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  • 1 year later...

Update:

Had dinner at Bert's the other night, and I was severely underwhelmed--surprisingly so, since I've had great experiences there before. I ordered shrimp and grits, which were sullied by way too many undercooked tomatoes and lack of salt. The grits were positively leaden and totally underseasoned, plus there was a massive quantity of them. I had to add a lot of salt and some Tabasco to make the dish somewhat workable. The hush puppies and salad with lemon vinaigrette were all right. My husband had the orange BBQ catfish, which was covered with an ok, sweetish glaze but didn't have much grill-type flavor as he was hoping to taste. Maybe we should have stuck to one of the three tuna dishes on the menu or something, but we were disappointed overall.

I also had a similarly underwhelming dinner at Southern Lights not too long ago--a big disappointment, given how much I'd heard about the place over the years (I had never been there until recently, if you can believe it). This place also suffered a lot of underseasoning, compounded with some shameless shortcuts (cheap deli turkey on the Cobb salad, for example) that did not reflect well on the kitchen.

I always thought Greensboro did a particularly good job with this sort of friendly, neighborhood joint with entrees around the $20 mark--but now I'm not so sure.

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  • 5 months later...
Giacomo's has opened a second full-service shop on New Garden Rd, just off Battleground near Brassfield Shopping Center. Same strip center as the excellent Danny's (whose breakfasts I have long adored). My folks live right by there, so it's great to get a pig fix without schlepping to High Point Road.

I'm in the process of moving back to Greensboro from Richmond, VA and I stopped by Giacomo's on New Garden - WOW!

Got out of there with about $50 worth of meats.

:wub: I think I'm in love ... and they're only about a mile from my house :biggrin:

Thanks for the pointer - I probably would have never stopped in there if you hadn't mentioned them.

- TT

Tom Tyson
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A restaurant which has opened since this thread started is Phoenix Asian Cuisine on New Garden at Bryan Blvd in the strip center with Harris Teeter.

http://www.phoenixasiancuisine.com/index.htm

At first I thought it was part of a chain, like P.F. Chang, but upon investigation I found that it's owned and run by one family, the Pengs, with the parents (still business pardners, though now divorced) running the kitchen while their two sons are out front running the very attractive and efficent dining room. EXCELLENT service.

They have a very broad menu touching on many different schools of asian fare, though their emphasis, if there is one, is Thai.

Reservations are not required on weekends, but is probably a good idea after 5pm

- TT

Edited by TGTyson (log)
Tom Tyson
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I'm so glad you've discovered the porky goodness that is Giacomo's. I often bring their meats back with me to WV after a visit.

My parents RAVE about Phoenix, but they haven't gotten my family over there yet. They're friends with the Batchelors (so now they have two food writers mentioning them in columns--they're getting a lot of celebrity out of foodie friends and a foodie kid) and John Batchelor did a nice writeup of a meal they took there together with some other people. You can probably find it on the Greensboro News and Record's website. (My parents are Barbara and Charles.)

On our last visit to Greensboro in June, they took us to an outstanding Thai place down Westover Terrace near its intersection with Wendover called Taste of Thai. We'd tried to go to Healthy Spice, which has the same owners, but they were closed for some kind of renovation or something. Anyway, the food was unbelievable--none of that overly sweet glop I've had repeatedly in Thai places around DC. This is not the place for the same tired red curry seafood and pad thai you get everywhere else--the menu was inventive and long, although they still had a lot of the same stuff you always see on Thai-American menus. (This is Greensboro, after all.) Light, fresh flavors and portions that weren't too huge. We want to go for the lunch buffet next time we're in town, because my Dad says it's a great value.

Has anybody tried the Indian place in the same shopping center as Taste of Thai?

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I'm so glad you've discovered the porky goodness that is Giacomo's. I often bring their meats back with me to WV after a visit.

...

Has anybody tried the Indian place in the same shopping center as Taste of Thai?

Saffron on Mill St. between Westover and Battleground?

EXCELLENT Indian ! Same owners as Nawab in Winston Salem.

http://www.saffronindiancuisine.com/

Next time you are down here we should get together and set up an eG outing or two. Rosemary (my wife) and I try to get out at least once or thrice a week, and Phoenix, Taste of Thai, Saffron as well as Casaldi's Italian (just up the parking lot from TofT and Saffron) are high on the list. And at the other end of Battleground past Guilford Battleground National Park, New Garden Rd and past Libby Hills Seafood is a nice restaurant called Laddie and Dukes - owned by the same folks as the Chop House(s) and sort of an American/Irish Pub.

The Battleground area has certainly moved up in the last few years when it comes to good restaurants. It was only a happy coincidence that we bought a house right in the middle of all this, as we never have to drive more than about six minutes max for good food.

- TT

Edited by TGTyson (log)
Tom Tyson
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