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Wednesday, April 19, 2017


No sense moving to the South if you’re not going to feast on real Southern cooking.  Hype cultural diversity in restaurants all you want, but it’s tough to beat great Southern cooking’s range and deliciousness. The beauty and flavors of Southern cuisine reflect a culture too often overlooked.  What a shame! Have you had real Southern cooking yet?

Our quest for truly Southern food leads us to Greensboro, North Carolina and Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, a restaurant highly ranked by visitors and hometown folk alike.  It has been on our “to try” list almost since we arrived in North Carolina a year and a half ago.

If you’ve followed Third Age Traveler, you know that we have been barbecue tasters and lovers for years, ever in search of the perfect rack of fall-off-the-bone ribs, brisket, chicken, or pork, but Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen is not a barbecue joint.  This upscale restaurant is everything a special dining experience is about: ambiance, superb, caring service, and, of course, a menu that makes choosing one of the great conundrums of life.  What could be better?

Well, maybe “better” also means that this restaurant is one of the few wholly employee-owned restaurants in the country.  Maybe “better” means visiting their website and seeing a list of local farms and events at this location or at their second location in Cary, North Carolina.  Maybe “better” means being able to get their recipes and try to emulate the deliciousness you’ll experience at this great restaurant.

Our date for Lucky 32 is Rob’s birthday, so we want something special and something new.  We know the moment we drive up to the impressive restaurant that we’ve found what we are looking for.  Lovely building nicely landscaped with patio dining as well.  From our table inside, the big picture windows reveal trees just beginning to green up, and it is hard to remember we are in the middle of a city. 

 The interior color scheme is basically black and white, but the soft lamplights are like flowers, and the windows allow for natural lighting as well.  Nothing stark about the interior; rather it was warm with tables spaced so there is no crowded feeling.  Too often,  restaurant spaces require tight seating where it’s hard to even stand up without brushing another patron’s chair; not Lucky 32. 

Our waiter is prompt, takes our orders for two martinis, and comes back quickly bringing with him a nice hunk of multi-grain bread, still soft and warm. 

The menu—wonderful and varied—making us sigh as we try to narrow down our choices.  Everything tantalizes.  Just look at the first five starter selections!  What would you choose?

We decide to share the Buttermilk Fried Green Tomatoes.  WOW.  Here’s a dish that has intrigued me since I saw Fannie Flagg’s movie, Fried Green Tomatoes.  Not something ordinarily found in New York!.  I first had them at B.Smith’s restaurant in DC’s Union Station one lovely Easter Sunday years ago.  Love at first bite.  I’ve made them myself since we moved down to North Carolina, and good as mine were, these are wholly different. 

The blue cheese sauce and bacon add a zing, and I’m not sure what went into the voodoo sauce, but it certainly put a plus on that zing.  All five tomato slices are garnished with scallions, and the presentation is lovely.  Absolutely delicious. 

The entrée selection presents no less a problem.  Everything on the menu seems wonderful.  Each entrée is accompanied by two side dishes, and even those are difficult to decide.

I choose the Local Pork Loin —three slices of seared Hickory Nut Gap pork loin served on a bed of heavenly creamed spinach and topped with crisps of shiitake bacon. As my sides, I choose mustard braised cabbage and pimento mac. 

The meat is nicely done, and the creamed spinach adds a flavor boost to the meat.  The braised cabbage, a dish I’ve never had, is superb, tangy, neither too crisp nor too soft—tastefully seasoned.  The combination is unique as are the flavors of the pimento mac.

My meal is so good I will have to fight my yearnings to repeat this selection the next time we come.  And we will be back. I want to try some of the other possibilities.

Rob orders the Cornmeal Crusted Carolina Catfish, farm raised in Ayden, NC with Creole mayonnaise.  It is served on a bed of squash and peas.  For his sides, he chooses collard greens and beans and kale greens.
Perfection on a plate.

Did I say that we cannot resist tasting each other’s selections?  Amazing.  It’s not often where there is not one bit of negativity.  I, who really am not a fan of kale, cannot even complain about that.  I really like the collard greens and the squash mixture.  We both agree, too, that the fish is done just right.  Rob’s reaction to my entrée is equally positive. 

I’d love to tell you what we have for dessert, but there is just no way we could take another bite.  Servings are ample. If you’re sorry I cannot share our reactions with you, you can imagine how sorry we are that there is just no room for dessert!

We’re planning a sightseeing day in Greensboro with our next house guests, and Lucky 32 is where we will take them for dinner.  It will be a real Taste of the South treat.

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