Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Recently Misti Graziani published a Facebook list of the 15 Best Places to Eat in Greensboro.  The list is from Spoon University.  I've decided we are going to start dining OUTSIDE REIDSVILLE based on Misti's recommendations.  Misti owns a pizza restaurant, so I figure I am going to pay attention to what Misti says.  At least until she recommends something totally unappealing.

This review is from the 15 Best list and I've noticed Misti has dined there.  That's a double whammy.

What we are talking is Hop's Burger Bar on Spring Garden Street in Greensboro.  I am told it is located in what used to be Bert's Seafood Grille.  Anyway, it's located right across the street from the Adam and Eve sex shop.  I'm sure all my readers know where Adam and Eve is located.

I've just learned Hop's has recently opened a second location on Lawndale Avenue.  Lawndale is much closer to us and the next time we'll try that location.

There's no doubt Hop's needs a second location.  There was a 45 minute wait to get a table at Spring Garden.  The place is small and it was packed.  We left around 8:30 PM and there were still people stacked up to be seated.

Carolina was playing Duke and that didn't help the seating situation.  Every TV in the restaurant was tuned to the basketball game.  The sound on all the TVs was turned down (thank you, Jesus).  There was some unrecognizable music playing in the distant back ground, but most of the noise was at a conversational level.  Noise really matters to me.  I do not really care for noisy places.

Hops had an interesting mix of customers.  I would say most were in their twenties and thirties.  I did see some gray hairs and lots of what appeared to be teeny-boppers.  At least I guess they were teens.  It's getting harder to tell.

Everyone was very pleasant.  Most people wanted to know our dining history and assured us Hops was "awesome", since we admitted we were virgins to Hops.

If you sit on the stools lining the little wall outside the washrooms while you wait to be seated, you meet a lot of people.  First everyone wants to know if you are waiting in line to use the toilet.  When they find out you're not toilet watching, the conversation begins while they toilet watch.

One guy even asked Debbie if she would mind the door while he slipped into the ladies potty.  He guaranteed Debbie he would not pee on the seat and would put it down when he was finished.  He could have gone commando because the restroom doors locked securely.   I guess I should mention Hops restrooms are one-seaters.

There were a very few what I would call reasonable tables and chairs (all full of course).  Most everything was a tall bar stool at small bar-height tables.  They were not comfortable for short people.  You had to climb into your seat.

Now you are about to read something that I thought I would never write.  You are also about to see something that I thought I would never see.  It truly is a miraculous happening.

Here is what we ordered:

Above is the first miracle.  What you are looking is a plate of fried cauliflower. Let me repeat that...it's a plate of fried cauliflower.  I have not touched cauliflower since I was a wee little child.  Cauliflower has always been on my list of forbidden foods.  My mother was the absolute worst cook...ever!  She would serve me cauliflower and I would gag at the thought of eating it.  But, dear ol' Mom would make me eat it anyway.

Debbie ordered the fried cauliflower as an appetizer.  I had told myself I would try tasting a tiny bit of it.  I tried it and I must say it was very, very good.  It may have been the best thing we ordered.  It tasted nothing like the cauliflower from the olden days of my youth.  I could not even taste cauliflower.

The fried cauliflower reminded me of the zucchini squash Debbie has been serving me.  I hate squash like I hate cauliflower, and for the same reason.  But, Debbie has somehow figured out how to cleverly disguise zucchini.  I now eat zucchini about twice a week, and I would eat fried cauliflower if someone served it to me.

On the right are two small silver cups. The one in the foreground contains a spicy mustard sauce and behind it is a sweet and sour sauce, like what might be served with calamari.  The sweet and sour was delicious.  The mustard not so much.  It was too spicy.

What you see above is the second miracle.  Debbie has ordered a Ruby Lager.  Debbie absolutely never drinks beer.  But, as you can see, she is drinking it.  I had to help her finish it, but she never made a face and never complained.  She did say she would have preferred the beer be "hoppier".  Sweet Jesus, where has this girl been getting this "hoppier" stuff from?  Debbie drinking a beer is like me eating cauliflower.

Hops offers a fairly unique but small selection of beers.  I would call it a "college crowd" beer list.  But, they also serve Pabst Blue Ribbon for the hipsters and Bud Light for people who don't know any better.

Here are the two main courses:  

In front is a College Hill Blues burger.  It's a 6-oz. burger with Bleu cheese, sauteed onions and mushrooms, spinach, and a horseradish Dijon sauce.  To the left of the burger is truffle oil and Parmesan cheese fries.  A mustard sauce sits in the middle in the silver cup.  The burger was good.  The fries were good, but a bit light on the truffle oil.  I didn't like the mustard sauce.

Behind my College Hill Blues burger is Debbie's 6-oz. North Carolinian burger.  It has bacon, fried green tomato, fried egg, pimento cheese, and lettuce.  Debbie's burger was the best.  Bacon and egg makes everything better.  I tried a bite of her North Carolinian, but it didn't taste of egg and pimento cheese.  Debbie said she already ate the egg before I had my turn at it.  I don't really care for pimento cheese on anything except a pimento cheese sandwich or cracker, so not tasting pimento cheese was a good thing for me.

With her burger is a basket of sweet potato fries.  I don't like sweet potatoes, but I tried a couple of them.  Once again there was only the slightest hint of sweet potato flavor.  Debbie didn't eat them because they had been dusted with sugar.  Left alone or sprinkled with salt and pepper, she would have liked them.  I could have eaten them, but my truffle oil and Parmesan fries had me bustin'

Hops has a selection of ten different burgers or they can be made custom, or ordered in an 8-oz. size for about $1.00 more each.  Other sandwiches and salads are available.

Here is a look at Debbie's medium cooked North Carolinian burger.  As you can see, it looks pretty pink inside.  It was the same as my medium-rare College Hill Blues burger.  Notice the bacon dripping off the right side and that looks like fried egg in front of her thumb.  Debbie didn't mind the meat being pink.  She said that's the way she wanted it anyway, but someone expecting a medium burger might be disappointed.

Hops Burger Bar is recommended.  You might try going at an off-hour, but we were told (while on toilet duty) it is always crowded.  You should probably just plan on waiting for a table.  Definitely don't go when there's a big game on the TV.

The bill for the evening was about $37.00, including an 18 percent tip.

* Click the images for a larger view


Not Quite Valentine's Day Dinner at Fleming's Steakhouse

I don't really care for cell phone photography, particularly in a tough lighting situation, like in a slightly darkened restaurant. But often I have to work with what is available. So, please forgive the poor lighting and angle in the photo below.  In the future I will be carrying my Nikon to dinner.

In this case, it's our Valentine's Day dinner at Fleming's Steakhouse in Greensboro.

Valentine's Day came a few days late due to circumstances (no reservations available before 9:30 PM) and foul weather, but we finally made it to Flemings on February 16th. Flemings is very nice, but very expensive. If you go, expect a sumptuous meal and good service at a very high price.

Fleming's is located in a far corner of Friendly Shopping Center, near P.F. Chang's. I won't give you any more directions. Finding it will be part of your adventure through the back maze of Friendly.

I will warn you Greensboro is not like Reidsville at night. In Greensboro people shop and dine at night. There is a bit of traffic. After 8 PM there were probably 25 people shopping in a nearby Apple Computer store. Greensboro people do not hide after dusk.

Two days after Valentine's is a good day to eat at Flemings. The place is not crowded. The noise level is tolerably low.

We made our selections from the Small Plate Menu. I call it the Poor Man's Menu. Dinner for two still cost us more than $100. Hey. it was Valentine's Day or rather two days after Valentine's. We've spent as much as $175 on a meal at Fleming's, so to get off for $100 was a bargain.

As we were leaving the restaurant, we both remarked it was best meal we've ever had at Fleming's. We weren't overstuffed. The food still tasted delicious on our palettes. My wallet was not totally deflated.

It's not shown in this photograph, but we split an appetizer. It was Pan-Seared Pork Belly on goat cheese grits with a cherry and onion sauce. Allow me to translate that for you...it was really thick bacon served over grits. The bacon was fatty and tasty and grits were awesome. Goat cheese must do something special for grits.

I've pulled all the other main dishes together for this photo. On the left is Braised Short Ribs of Beef with savory arugula, spinach, and natural au jus. Lower center is Gulf Shrimp and Sea Scallops on squash vermicelli.

Let me say at this point I hate squash, but this was totally awesome. The vermicelli (squash pasta) may have been the best dish on the table. It was fabulous, only rivaled by the scallops. The shrimp were a tad rubbery (I had to cut them with a knife), but still excellent.

The Braised Short Ribs were outstanding, but, as my date suggested to the waiter, they would have been killer served over the goat cheese grits that came with the Pork Belly. The waiter noted they used to be served that way.

In the center of the photo is a bowl of Sauteed Mushrooms. We shared the mushrooms. We've had them before, but this time they were sliced. The last time they were whole. Slicing didn't seem to hurt them. They were still an excellent accompaniment to both the ribs and seafood.

In the upper right hand corner is a small loaf of sliced bread. I'm guessing it's made at Fleming's, but who knows for sure. It's served with a small bowl of Chardonnay Brie and a small bowl of Champagne Cheddar (I think that's what the waiter said). We ordered a second loaf after the first one was eaten. That should tell you something about the bread and cheese course. My date liked the Chardonnay Brie and I preferred the Champagne Cheddar. I encouraged my date to sop up her Braised Ribs with the bread, but she wouldn't do it. I had no shame, I sopped up my seafood juices with the bread with both fork and fingers. I don't think anyone saw me do it, but the waiter was probably very suspicious after he saw my shiny clean plate. By the way, the bread and cheese were complimentary.

I had a bottle of Aqua Panna to drink. It's an Italian water. My date ordered a glass of 14 Hands, a California red wine. They both were excellent.

We skipped the dessert because we had a homemade chocolate cake waiting on us at home.

Above is a slightly better photo of my Shrimp and Scallops dish with mushrooms and bread.

Fleming's is highly recommended.

Visit, but be sure to be packing some dollars and an appetite.

Here is a link to Fleming's.

* Click the images for a larger view