Nearly a decade earlier, before he went off to the CIA, Seaborn and his father ran the Magnolia Restaurant in Greensboro, and it too was much more impressive an establishment than you might expect in a small town. It had a large and varied menu, and I have enjoyed meals of high quality there. The finest of all was a German meal that Seaborn prepared for a large reserved-seat crowd once when he was home on spring break. The description hadn't sounded all that exciting (pork chop, spaetzle, and red cabbage), but what Seaborn did with it immediately placed it high on my list of best meals I had ever had (and having lived some 27 years in New York City, I had been exposed to some pretty good restaurants). It has now been joined by last night's French meal and by the Southern Italian meal of last August, also a celebration of the end of the OLLI session of the season.
A warning: closed on Mondays. Open (at present, at least) only for lunch. The French and Italian evening meals were by special arrangement, including the lease of the facility by a private citizen so that attendees could bring their wine if they chose (the restaurant does not have a liquor license, and with a church diagonally across the intersection it is probably unlikely to be issued one).
The lunch menu is limited but with changes daily. There is usually one hot lunch dish, and I have had the meat loaf and turnip greens, the chicken and dumplings with a side of fried okra, and the cheeseburger casserole with side salad. All were delicious. A salad plate is available, and you choose 3 out of 5 or 6 items on offer (my sister tends to get that and loves it.) There are usually two or three sandwich offerings, of which I have had the fried green tomato panini (heaven on a stick!) and the roast beef with cheddar (finest roast beef sandwich I have ever had). With both sandwiches I had the fresh fruit cup, thinking that with all that sinful indulgence I should try to make up for it on the side dish. It just so happens that the fruit dish is remarkably tasty. Usually there is a soup-and-side offering, and I am still sorry I didn't try the freshly-made tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwich. I'll bet it was great. And Saturday is usually pizza day! Fresh dough made up as you wait, fresh toppings applied (there are several choices: I got the supreme which has some of everything), cooked while you wait.
And the pies! They usually have 6 to 10 available, and the slices are gigantic. I've tried the key lime, lemon, tollhouse, buttermilk, blueberry, and caramel, and there's not a single one that I found lacking.
You place your order at the counter, choosing from the day's offerings posted on the blackboards behind. Water, iced tea, and lemonade are available at a station directly across from the counter. My beverage container of choice is the Mason jars, but plastic cups are there too.
You sit where you please at one of the several long tables available. The idea of the restaurant is to encourage people who don't necessarily know each other to get together and talk. And people actually do!
Magnolia Grove is certainly worth a look. Check it out on the internet for discription and pictures. And any simple internet image search of Greensboro will turn up all sorts of old homes and buildings worth a trip to the community. Visitors with a good idea and recall of old photographs will spot views immortalized by Walker Evans in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.
In the next block to the east of the Pie Lab the old Greensboro Opera House is being restored: http://greensborooperahouse.org/
Auburn's Rural Studio is based in the nearby community of Newbern and its projects are much in evidence throughout Hale and adjoining counties. http://www.ruralstudio.org/ Click the "projects" button there for an overview.
And when you are in the area, be sure to grab lunch at the Pie Lab! And to whet your appetite, you might want to look at this video that aired recently on a local news station: