Saturday, September 2, 2017


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I've always been leary of the so-called "farm to table" restaurants.  I know they're a big thing right now, but they're not my thing.  I guess I like "processed" food. The more people handling the food, the better.  I miss the old concept of multiple middlemen between the farm and the restaurant.  There's just something special about better dining through chemistry, machinery and lots of handlers.

The photo above is an example of a "farm to table" restaurant.  It is FOUR FLOCKS AND LARDER located at 433 Spring Garden St. in Greensboro.  It's in a huge white building with a lot of other "farm to table" operations, like Revolution Burger, The Bean and the Baker, Hush, and The Public.

FOUR FLOCKS has a kind of a modern industrial look.  Overheard pipes and a high ceiling add to the effect.  

The concrete floor made for a noisy environment.  An endless loop of country music played in the background and table chatter further raised the noise level when the first floor was nearing capacity. 

A small crowd occupied the first floor for probably less than an hour and then suddenly cleared out like magic.  It got much quieter.  

I cannot explain the country music.  It did not seem to go with theme of the restaurant or the food.

I like to dine in peace.  I also like to hear what my partner is saying without constantly saying 'Huh?".  If you ever dine with me, don't whisper.  I want to know what you are saying.  It may be important.  If you seeing me nodding a lot, speak up because I'm probably not hearing you

There is a partial second floor at FOUR FLOCKS, but it was never used.  It may have been the rainy weather, but it also may be some other reason there weren't enough diners to open the second floor.

Be very careful about using Google to find FOUR FLOCKS.  Google is very likely to bring up all sorts of menus for FOUR FLOCKS.  Probably none will match what the restaurant actually serves.  Not even FOUR FLOCKS web site will match the food that will be offered to you when you arrive.  If you like an adventure, FOUR FLOCKS may be your kind of place.  Otherwise, not so much.

If you are into the "greens",  FOUR FLOCKS may also appeal to you.   Like all "farm to table" operations, FOUR FLOCKS  specializes in serving Collard Greens, Brussels Sprouts, Kale Salad and Asparagus. 

Hmm...don't they all sound delicious.  They come with just about every dish.  You will have to do some serious studying of the menu to find something that is not accompanied by something green.

Debbie takes a gulp from a huge glass of wine.  It's a Meiomi Pinot Noir at $12 per glass.  The bottle was $46. 

Our waiter euthusiastically recommended it.  He said it would go with everything Debbie had ordered.  Apparently FOUR FLOCKS was a little overstocked on the Meiomi Pinot Noir or they got a special buy from the "wine farm" because our waiter was wrong.  I tried a sip.  It was very tannic, not what I expected from a Pinot Noir, especially at $12 per glass. 

Debbie didn't seem to care for the wine either, but she did empty her glass.

I ordered my usual beverage.  It was water, but a special water, I'm sure.  It was grown locally, fresh and clean, straight from the "water farm".  I know it must have been special because it was served out of a milk jug.  

Moreover, in the "larder" section of the restaurant, there is a department that sells mostly food related nick-nacks.  In a stand-up cooler was a section of 16-oz bottled waters that had homemade looking labels that proudly proclaimed in large letters "Fresh, Clean, Local"

I am not "shitting" you.  You have to wonder where the water is coming from and how it is bottled.

This is one of better parts of the entire meal.  These are Roasted Garlic, Cheddar Chive Biscuits with garlic herb butter.  The biscuit had only two flaws.  One was the flavor should have been intensified...maybe add a little MSG like the Chinese do.  The other is...well, I will tell you later in this story because it applies to both meals

This is my entree'.  

On the lower left is BBQ slaw which turned out be chopped cabbage with a few shreds of carrots.  A vinegar-based BBQ sauce had been poured over the cabbage and carrots.  It had little to no flavor other than a slight vinegar twang.  

The BBQ slaw was served in a chilled pie tin.  Let that give you a hint at the flaw in both our meals.

Above the slaw is a bowl of Wood Fired Smoked Chicken Wings.  Yes, I ordered chicken wings.  I know crazy, right?  But, the wings didn't come with collard greens, asparagus, Brussels sprouts or kale.  I really didn't have a choice.

There were maybe a dozen wing pieces covered in some sort of BBQ-like sticky sauce

The wings lacked any real flavor and were a mess to handle and eat, but I finished them finger-style.

Maybe I should have tried the Breaded Boneless Pigs Feet which were served with sauerkraut, pear puree, and spicy mustard.  I don't believe I've ever had my pigs feet breaded.

On the right is a bowl of Mac and Cheese with Duck Confit and Country Ham.  Confit is duck fat.  There were tiny pieces of country ham mixed with the mac and cheese.  It too was served in a tiny pie tin.

It's been a very, very long time since I've eaten macaroni and cheese.  This side dish so impressed me that I had to include a separate photo.  It was delicious.  It was rich and creamy.  The duck fat and tiny bits of country ham were perfect.  But, it too suffered the fatal flaw.

I don't know where the mac and cheese was grown.  Maybe in Clemmons or Winston or Eden or Burlington, but if you ever go to FOUR FLOCKS, order the mac and cheese.

This is Debbie's entree.

Those two slices were all she got.  It's Pan Roasted Duck Breast served on, yes, you guessed it, Brussels sprouts with fennel cream and dried cherries.

I tasted the duck.  It was good, but again the fatal flaw lurked.  It's too bad all she got for $14 was two little slices.  Twice that many might have been more reasonable

I wouldn't touch the Brusells sprouts with a ten-foot pole and Debbie wouldn't touch the cherries.

Here's Debbie's side dish of $4 Potlikker Collard Greens with House Bacon.  I have no idea why they're called "Potlikker" and I never saw the tiniest piece of bacon, but I suppose the bacon may have been hiding in there somewhere.

I tasted a tiny bite.  Aside from the fatal flaw, I suppose they were as good as Collard Greens can get 

Here's the dessert.  It's called a "Brownie Sundae".  It came straight from the "brownie farm".

According to the menu, you had a choice of either a chocolate brownie or a turtle brownie or a cheesecake brownie.  Each brownie is accompanied by a different ice cream - vanilla, salted caramel or strawberry with a "fire ball" cherry.

But, the menu is wrong.  A Brownie Sundae consists of all three kinds of brownies and all three kinds on ice cream.  You get them all in one dish.

When the Brownie Sundae was served I had to ask the waiter where the "fire ball" cherry was.  There was no cherry, fire ball or otherwise, visible anywhere.  He made a confused face and said he didn't know, but would ask the kitchen staff for an explanation.

Apparently, our waiter has never served a Brownie Sundae or never been asked where the "fire ball" is.

He returned a few minutes later and explained the "fire ball" was buried somewhere in the sundae.  Sure enough we eventually found the "fire ball" in the white glob in the center of the brownies.  Debbie said the glob was whipped cream, but I'm not sold on that theory,

I have no idea why the cherry was called a "fire ball".  It tasted like an ordinary cherry to me.

I think I would have been happier with just a brownie with vanilla ice cream.

This is what a nice cloth napkin looks like after being used by a guy who ordered Wood Smoked Chicken Wings.  It looks disgusting.  It was disgusting.  I pity the fool who had to bus our table.

This is our waiter.  I forget his name.  I think maybe it was Melrose or something kinda like that.  Debbie made this photo while I went to the restroom.  Melrose now knows where the "fire  ball" cherry is hiding.  Melrose will probably never forget where the "fire ball" cherry is.

Melrose hoped we enjoyed our meal.  Melrose did not know we had already discussed the meal and had decided we would never return to FOUR FLOCKS because of the fatal flaw.

The fatal flaw is everything was served at room temperature at best. That was fine for the BBQ slaw and the Brownie Sundae, but it didn't fly with the duck, the chicken wings, the collard greens, the biscuit, and the mac and cheese.  They were not fine.  They were disappointing.  Food is generally supposed to be very warm, If not, hot.

I'm not sure who to blame - the waiter, the kitchen staff, or the food runner.  I'm pretty sure the food was properly cooked, but I'm guessing it was left sitting on a counter somewhere in the bowels of the restaurant for 10-15 minutes after it was ready.

Debbie was nice, but she unloaded on Melrose and let him know the problem.  He was apologetic.  We asked for no compensation or anything else, but we were determined Melrose would know there was a problem.

Melrose thanked us for our honesty.  He lamented that most people don't say a word and then go online to bash FOUR FLOCKS for some sort of failure.  He said he would relay our complaint to management.

A few minutes later Nic Baez, the General Manager, came to our table and apologized for the problem we experienced.  Nic said there was no excuse for the cold food.  He gave us his card and signed the back for two free dinners anytime in the future.

Oh, shit!  What do we do now?  We had already decided to never return.  Now we had a "get out of jail free" card.  This is a situation we will have to think about.  If only we could order the items Debbie found online, we would definitely return...Seared Pork Belly, Buttermilk Onion Rings, Pulled Pork Nachos, Duck Fat French Fries and Spinach Dip.  And, of course, I wanted to try the Breaded Boneless Pigs Feet.

I wanted to show you a couple things in this photo - a folded copy of the menu that I had to ask our waiter for three times.  I wanted it to make some notes for this article.  He misunderstood and thought I wanted to take it home which he said was verboten.   He also promised he would get me a "special" copy of the menu which listed all the ingredients in each item.  He failed to get me the "special" menu.  I had to settle for the "regular" menu which I did take home for reference,

 The second thing I wanted to show you is the heavy wooden wall behind the folded menu against which we were seated.  God bless the wooden wall.  I think it absorbed much of the country music and table chatter.  I would not have wanted to be seated in the center of FOUR FLOCKS.

Here's where the FOUR FLOCKS come in.  On top of the wooden wall were four stuffed birds - a quail, a turkey, a duck, and a chicken,  I'm sorry I couldn't fit all four into the frame.  I needed to be about three-feet taller.

Debbie looks over the Larder.

This bit of Larder caught my eye - it's beer soap.  I bet you can't find beer soap anywhere in Reidsville.

Here's one version of the menu.  This is the one from which we ordered and the one I brought home.

Total cost for dinner was about $73 with tip.  I saved about $11 of the $73 with a Groupon.

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