New hearty Southern restaurant puts a bird on it

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Garden & Gun would eat this place up.

The first thing you notice when you walk into Four Flocks & Larder is the single-file line of birds, marching south behind the host’s stand in the entryway of the restaurant. The relatively new restaurant along Greensboro’s Downtown Greenway takes its name from the four birds — chicken, duck, turkey and quail — that are solemnly marching in formation.

Follow their beaks around the corner and you’ll see a massive black and white image of a river, with small birds flying right to left on the top and liquor bottles stacked behind the bar punctuating the bottom. Dramatic, high ceilings accompanied by white tables and chairs as well as sharp, apron-wearing servers add to the upscale yet casual Southern feel.

It’s one of the few places in town where you can genuinely forget you’re in Greensboro, a welcome sort of staycation just a few blocks from the heart of the city. If the new Katharine Brasserie & Bar in downtown Winston-Salem were less French and more hearty Southern, it would be Four Flocks & Larder.

It’s almost surprising there isn’t a hunting rifle mounted above a crackling fireplace in the modern waiting area. But there’s an entire mint julep menu featuring prominently on the drinks list and there’s an accompanying “larder,” or store, beneath a high-lofted portion of the dining area filled with hip home items befitting of a new South household.

Four Flocks is part of the massive, multi-million dollar Morehead Foundry complex, erected by the Iron Hen’s Lee Comer and featuring several venues including a burger joint, a coffeeshop and Hush — the city’s only “speakeasy.” And it’s arguably the best of the bunch.

The price range puts Four Flocks on the more expensive end of the spectrum in the city — a shared appetizer, two averagely priced entrees, two cocktails and a shared dessert rang in at $100 (before tip, obviously). That left some leftover food, despite my girlfriend and I eating our fill, but that still places the restaurant in the upper echelon. If that’s too rich for your blood, there are weeknight blue-plate specials as well as more lunch and brunch menus.

We dug into the smoky, wood-fired chicken wings slathered in a thick “Carolina” barbecue sauce, though the seared pork belly, jalapeño poppers and pulled pork nacho apps also tempted us. If Garden & Gun staff showed up though, they’d probably insist on trying the corn bread skillet, chicken livers and the potato skins with duck bacon, manchego cheese, scallions and jalapeños.

The whole quail stuffed with sausage. Top: The pan-fried duck breast.

Given the restaurant’s raison d’etre, we opted for quail and duck entrees. Nothing against turkey, but it’s a little too pedestrian when you can order a whole quail stuffed with country sausage and served atop collards and black-eyed peas. We snagged the pan-fried duck breast too, which comes with cheddar grits, Brussels sprouts and dried cherries. And we ogled the duck tortellini with seared scallops, considered the wood-fired meat-and-three options and almost picked the spaghetti with duck meatballs.

Thee more colorful presentation of the duck made it more visually appealing, but the marriage of sausage and quail turned my entrée into the clear winner. The thick, orange-colored and mustard-based sauce poured on top took the dish to the next level.

A look inside the stuffed quail.

Neither of us particularly loved our julep cocktails though, making the initial comparison to the Katharine a clumsy one. But the apple cider glazed sweet-potato doughnuts and bourbon poppy seed ice cream we ended with made us forget any complaints.

I heard some initial criticism of Four Flocks when it first opened, and had decided to give the restaurant a chance to come into its own before showing up. We arrived on a busy Saturday night, waiting just a couple minutes for a table, slightly too long for our drinks and not at all for our food. The friendliness and attentiveness of our server enhanced the evening, and despite being the last couple in the place as staff prepped to close, we never felt rushed.

And we loved the food. I wouldn’t say that Four Flocks is our new favorite restaurant or anything that excessively effusive, and even if it were, the price point would put it out of our range. But we’ll put it in rotation for special occasions, and I recommend you do the same.

Visit Four Flocks & Larder at 433 Spring Garden St. (GSO) or at freshlocalfoodgroup.com/four-flocks-and-larder.