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Uncle Orson Reviews Everything
January 28, 2002

First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC.

Honor Roll of Greensboro Restaurants

When Kristine and I first moved to Greensboro back in 1983, we loved this city at once. It was where we wanted to raise our children.

But one thing Greensboro lacked, in those days, was our kind of restaurant.

There were fancy places to eat, but they all seemed to think "high quality" was achieved by turning the lights down so low you had to read the menu by braille, and then sending around waiters who treated you as if you were only just barely worthy to sit at one of their tables.

There were a couple of restaurants like that, and plenty of the kind where if you just drink enough alcohol it doesn't matter about the food ... but no place where we could go and relax in a friendly ambience and eat food where all the surprises were pleasant.

Which was all right with us, at first. We like our own cooking. Besides, we moved here from South Bend, Indiana, so it wasn't as though we were used to the kind of cuisine people get in Los Angeles or New York or DC or Paris.

The only real inconvenience was when we had visitors from one of those great restaurant cities. Where could we take them for dinner?

For a few short years, the Equinox at Friendly Center was our one restaurant. Then it died. We figured we were fated to eat well only when we were in another city.

And then, one by one, new restaurants opened -- or we finally found out about restaurants that had been doing wonderful things without our knowing about them.

Later, I'll do more detailed reviews of each of these. But I thought it was worth saying a word or two about all of our favorites -- restaurants that we think could hold their own in any of the great restaurant cities of America. They are also adaptable, with chefs willing to do whatever is needed to help deal with an allergy, a diet, or even a simple preference.

Leblon. I can say, without hesitation, that this is the best Brazilian restaurant in America. Most Americans have no idea what Brazilian cuisine even is. Doesn't matter. You have my promise: At Leblon, if you're not feeling adventurous you'll find plenty of familiar offerings on the menu, and if you do start sampling the uniquely Brazilian dishes, you'll be delighted at the new flavors and combinations. When friends visit Greensboro for the first time, this is the place we always take them first. (On Market, west of Holden.)

Mark's on Westover. This is the kind of elegance and excellence that I value in the finest restaurants of Los Angeles and New York. The staff are never pretentious and serve everyone with grace; the chef is not afraid to come out of the kitchen and warmly greet his customers; and no matter how unusual a menu offering might sound, you can count on its being, in a word, perfect. (On Westover Terrace, just north of Wendover.)

Park Place. A tiny room and a menu that is deceptively simple, but behind the cheerful service and modest attitude there are wonderful surprises here. Who would have thought the same restaurant would have the best vegetable spring rolls in Greensboro -- and the best meatloaf! The tomato-mozzarella salad is wonderful, and the okra-free jambalaya is better than I've had in New Orleans. (In the shopping center at Battleground and Pembroke/Green Valley.)

Southern Lights. They have delicious, creative entrees here in this casual restaurant, but I'm afraid that I love their Casablanca sandwich so much that I rarely order anything else. My wife and daughter order much more eclectically, and I've never seen them disappointed. When we're in a hurry but still want something wonderful to eat, here is where we come. (Just off Friendly at Westover, behind Hamm's.)

Café Pasta. The neon decor suggests that they want to be a happ'nin' place, and indeed I've been there on nights when the live music was first rate. But we go there for extraordinary pasta dishes -- and I must confess an addiction to their homemade spicy sausages. (On State Street.)

Revival Grill. In their new building, you can actually walk to your table without all the other diners having to stand up to let you by. This is the most recent addition to our list, so we are still exploring all that their menu has to offer -- but so far, from firecracker shrimp, gnocchi, and bruschetta appetizers to fresh and inventive entrees, we can't imagine being disappointed here. (In a hard-to-find parking lot behind Fresh Market on West Friendly.)

Green Valley Grill. Besides having one of Greensboro's best menus (and a weekend brunch that includes sinfully good breakfast crepe dishes), Green Valley Grill has the added advantage of being a hotel restaurant (the wonderful O.Henry), which means that it is open every day, and later at night than most others. It's here that we go after a movie or a play rehearsal, or when we have guests who can only join us for lunch on Saturday -- and since that happens rather a lot, we probably go here more than to any other restaurant in town. (On Green Valley just south of Benjamin, at Friendly Center.)

These are not the only restaurants we've enjoyed in Greensboro, and we've heard of others that we intend to try soon, but these are our tried and true favorites, the ones we know will never disappoint us -- treasures that you won't find anywhere else in the world.


Uncle Orson's Grammar Review

As a public service, from time to time I will point out some idiotic "rules" that are being taught to American schoolchildren and which are, in fact, without merit.

The most pernicious one is:

"Don't say 'me and John,' say 'John and I.'"

While "Me and John, we were heading for the store" is very informal, the phrase "me and John" is not the subject of the sentence, it is the topic of the sentence, and "me" is not wrong. If you drop the "we," then "Me and John were heading for the store" is wrong ... but it is wrong in a genuine, honest sort of way.

It's part of the same grammatical trend that took the second person plural objective, "you," and moved it to be the second person singular/plural subject, replacing "thou" and "ye."

Eventually, one might have expected that the objective pronouns would replace all the subjective ones, so that "I" might someday have become as obsolete as "ye."

However, three generations of teachers have worked so brutally to eradicate "me and John" as a subject clause, but have failed so miserably to explain when and why "John and I" is better, that now we have a new class of error.

I speak, of course, of the execrable "John and I" showing up in places where the objective case is called for. "Between John and I" is always wrong, always phony, always a declaration that you have been educated but didn't understand what you were taught. Or at least it used to be -- because this construction became so widespread in the previous generation that now children are growing up having never heard the proper forms.

There was no grammatical trend toward replacing object pronouns with subject ones. Teachers of English are entirely to blame for this one.

"Give it to John and I," say innocent victims of this wretched "rule." Or, "Don't make John and I wait downstairs."

Well, don't make I listen to such dreadful phrases, either, for it will make I sick, and when teachers and parents tell children to talk this way in front of I, violent acts may be committed by I upon their persons.

I give they fair warning.

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