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As a finer dining destination, Ypsi’s Thompson & Co. is just north of nothing special

There’s a line separating culinary creativity in all its artistic license from the lesser art of cooked-up interpretation. And there’s discernable difference between dishes thoughtfully “deconstructed” and those merely reduced to pale comparisons of their classic preparation and presentation. Though its menu reads very American Southern-inspired, Ypsilanti’s Thompson & Co. aspired to little more than CliffsNotes versions of several deep South signatures during our recent dinner visit, dishing up pricey yet relatively poor samplings of a cuisine style it strains at doing justice to. More’s the pity, since the restaurant property itself proffers an impressive platform from which to perform. Stationed in Ypsi’s Depot Town since its Civil War army barracks days, T & C’s come current as a hopping hub for legions of food and drink-seekers, enlisted together to the cause of emancipating Ypsilanti from its longtime perception as almighty Ann Arbor’s poorer, college town relation. And certainly, the place was packed on our arrival after a short walk from free parking. Shoulder to shoulder with many others who’d marched in on a Saturday night, we found ourselves among ranks of a tony, mixed crowd of twenty-to-fiftysomethings, for the most part; looking uniformly well-coiffed and content as a collective, breaking bread and making merry throughout the sprawling interior. T & C’s laid-out long. A beautifully high-backed bar anchors one end. A live entertainment space staged with comfy furniture occupies an adjoining lounge area. The main bar and dining room — framed in iron girders, brick, and woodwork — is set with almost schoolroom-functional tables and chairs. Bookending the inside beyond that, a bit boxier-looking room likely serves some large party-banquet utility. It’s altogether expansive yet cozily-cloistered. Outside, a patio dormant in winter conjures can’t-wait wishes for spring. From any angle, everything about the look and feel screams great date night destination, guys’/girls’ night out hang, or group gathering; a place you might want to keep in mind for any and all such occasions. Without doubt, Thompson & Co.’s enjoying some local hot spot status. It takes reservations and a two or three-person door staff to greet and seat its clientele adeptly (which it does), creating finer-dining expectations of paying for what you get while getting your money’s worth in return. Yet value perceptions proved the other rub we ran up against during dinner. Coupled with compromised, appropriation issues we took with the fare, the food experience fell flat for one reason or the other. The skillet cornbread, for starters ($9.50), was sugary and dense enough to pass for pound cake, much more so than corn-sweet and crumbly as one with traditional tastes for this down-South staple sustenance might be willing to swallow. Though the jalapeño jelly was a hoot, it could only help a ten-dollar, palm-sized serving of sweet, cakey bread and butter so much. Frankly, of our three first-course selections, only Louisiana shrimp ($16.25) satisfied; netting us a generous handful sautéed firm and plump in a piquant butter sauce we sopped and eventually squeegeed from their plating with nicely-charred, thick slices of still-spongy (in a good way) crostini. Cajun seafood spinach dip ($18.25), sadly, tipped the scales toward overall disappointment with the appropriately-named “rations” menu, affording us a meager ladling of what was essentially over-creamed spinach dotted with a morsel or two of chopped shrimp and crawfish tails, sorrier still under another let-down layer of torched-black, splotchy crust left under the flash broiler too long. Listen, I love the look, texture, and taste of things browned nice and toasty, but under a salamander, seconds count, chefs. Someone lost count in this case, and put out a product burnt in places which could and should have been caught — then quickly and easily replaced — before it left the kitchen pass. As we sat feeling a little singed over a rough start to dinner, Racheal, our server, began endearing herself to us with some plucky tableside manner. When she essentially asked me to “suck it in” during her first pass between my chair and the table behind us, I was instantly engaged and entertained. As a former restaurateur, I’ve always had a thing for hiring personalities to fill front-of-house positions. I’m convinced most customers enjoy a little back-and-forth with staff who can give as good as they get; tactfully, cleverly, and with good humor. Racheal was all that as she bandied with me to a point where dining companion Debra offered her a “can’t take him anywhere” apology for some of my comments over Racheal’s brushing my backside as she worked her way around me all evening. Racheal and I saw eye-to-eye, no butts about it. She held up her end of the business, being a personality chameleon who colored her table talk in the very tone I set for our table, when teasing her first squeeze by me to say hello. I loved your service, girl, and, between you and me, the way you framed your suggestions and answers to my ever-probing menu questions was brilliant. Kudos, Kiddo. As satisfying as the service was from start to finish, our entrées went on to leave us wanting. I liked that they took a temperature on our pan-seared salmon order ($29.25). Too bad the fresh broccoli that came with was so undercooked. I get al dente, but we got barely blanched florets with still-hard stalks. Gilded with a dull, congealed lemon butter, the nicely-crusted but noticeably under-seasoned fish filet left us wishing we’d ordered something else. So, too, the étouffée ($24); another good catch of shrimp, crawfish (though hardly in evidence), and holy trinity veggies (bell pepper, onions, celery) smothered in a sauce somebody stopped building flavor into after they browned the roux. From Louisiana-spiced heat and buttery unctuousness to shrimp and shellfish stock ladled in, such added nuances are what distinguish stellar étouffée as the gastronomic, bayou gods intended from utterly ordinary attempts to mimic this simply stewed masterpiece. What we had tasted was one-note floury and far from mastered. As a table share, Nashville hot chicken ($18.50) played better in tribute to Southern food hospitality, treating us to a slightly crispy, tender breast of bird, brushed and rubbed saucy and spicy, served on a grilled Challah bun built with crunchy, puckery pickle and creamy jalapeño slaw, sided with a big, piping-hot pile of skin-on, skinny fries. Most impressed by this sandwich plunked in the middle of some unimpressive dinner entrees, I’ve told myself to consider the possibility that T & C’s sandwich, pizza, and/or salad offerings — which I’ve yet to try — may prove the menu’s stronger suit, so I’ll commit to returning for a lunch sampling of those soon, and following-up on that in a future column. Fair’s fair. For now, though, my grilled steak ($31) sears my mind’s lasting impression of what epitomizes Thompson & Co. as an evening meal destination. Check out the photo of that plate, which I just had to attach to this review. Car keys were included in the pic to give that small twist of striated Hanger Steak some scale. I understand this cut of beef is fairly prized for what it is. What it wasn’t was satisfying in any way whatsoever. I ate two bites, shared two bites, and left two bites. And that’s all there was to it: six bites. Total. The meat was essentially unseasoned to our palates, though cooked perfectly medium as requested. Chimichurri helped as a condiment, but didn’t make up for otherwise fairly flavorless beef. There was good news and bad news on the other go-withs. The grits were textbook: velvet creamy and cheesy. The red beans and rice were, again, a reductive representation of a side dish I think much better served classically, with its key ingredients combined all dirtied-up together, not as you see; in a tin lined with a paltry few beans and a melon ball scoop of plain white rice plopped atop. Meh. Did we have dessert? Sure: leaden doughnut twists that had no business masquerading as airy, soft and snowy Beignets ($8.25); their powder-sugared component almost abjectly absent in the presentation, and a Dairy Queen-take on Bananas Foster ($8.50) that featured an ordinary scoop of ice cream in a boat sunk by completely un-brûléed or otherwise caramelized segments of plain-sliced bananas afloat on a cold sauce that forsook all the luscious hot-cold yin-yang there is to love in a true rendition of Bananas Foster. As for vegan chocolate cake ($8), I concur with dining companion’s comment (she makes a mean chocolate zucchini bread): “Yeah, no. Not much going on, flavor-wise.” Paying our $185 bill, it offered an option to pay $178 by cash instead. It seemed small compensation. Leaving Thompson & Co., I looked for Racheal to thank her for her service, then walked out not looking forward to what I’d have to report. I’ll go again and give the fried green tomato salad a try, or maybe pizza with brisket or okra, and hope for better results. Subscribe to Metro Times newsletters. Follow us: Google News | NewsBreak | Reddit | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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Eight incredible pictures taken by camera club members

And with the late light nights appearing, it is the perfect chance for many of our camera club members to snap some stunning photos – and they did not disappoint. Sit back, relax, and enjoy! Rivery Orchy by Michael Dick (Renfrewshire Gazette Camera Club) (Image: Camera Club) A beautiful Bankie sunset by Cheryl B Visual Arts (Clydebank Post Camera Club) (Image: Camera Club) Dunmore House by Derek Young (Barrhead News Camera Club) (Image: Camera Club) Sunrise on Monday 19th February by Gerry Doherty (Dumbarton and the Vale Camera Club) (Image: Camera Club) Lazy River by Mik Coia (Gazette Camera Club) (Image: Camera Club) Taking on the wind and waves by Jim Clark (Barrhead News Camera Club) (Image: Camera Club) Levengrove Park by Andrew Magee (Clydebank Post Camera Club) (Image: Camera Club) The Lone Oak Tree at Milarrochy Bay, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park by James Duncan (Dumbarton and the Vale club) (Image: Camera Club)

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Jammu and Kashmir: One skier dead, 7 rescued after avalanche hits Gulmarg

An Avalanche hit the upper reaches of the Ski Resort Gulmarg in Jammu and Kashmir resulting in the death of one skier. A group of eight skiers, including foreigners, came under an avalanche on Thursday. Seven skiers were rescued. The avalanche hit the Khilan Marg area on Afarwat Peak, the famous ski destination in Gulmarg. One dead body of a skier has been recovered from the operation site. During the rescue operation, seven skiers were rescued from the site. One local skier is said to be injured during the incident. ”An avalanche hit Khilan Marg, trapping at least 8 skiers including some foreign skiers as well. Soon after, a massive rescue operation was launched at the site, which has so far resulted in killing of a skier and rescue of all others. Rescue operation has now been called off as all the trapped skiers were brought down safely while one local skier is said to be injured,” said an official. The government had already issued an avalanche warning in the upper reaches of the Kashmir region after heavy snowfall was witnessed in the last three days. Feet of snow accumulated in areas like Gulmarg, Kupwara and Gurez in North Kashmir. The disaster management had already advised people in these areas to be careful. While the authorities are yet to give out details about the identities of the skiers, sources say that in the group of 8 skiers, five are foreigners. Officials said that all the athletes who have come to participate in the 4th edition of the Khelo India Winter Games at Gulmarg are safe. READ | Big blow for Gujarat Titans as Mohammed Shami gets ruled out of IPL 2024

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Lost and found: 1935 passion play music score preserved in family archive

The town of Hořice in the Šumava mountains was once the site of some of the largest Easter passion plays in Europe, attracting tens of thousands of visitors from across Europe. According to the local archives the very first passion play – in which people re-enact the trial, suffering and death of Jesus Christ – took place in 1816, when a local weaver wrote a script for it with the help of the town priest and 15 locals performed it. Written and photo records documenting these activities over the centuries are not easy to come by and many are preserved in the family archives and albums of the locals whose predecessors helped keep this tradition alive. The historically first score for the Šumava Passion Plays from 1935 came close to being destroyed. Fortunately, one of the locals found the score among a heap of paper for recycling and saved it. His family has now donated the valuable musical material to the Society for the Preservation of the Hořice Passion Plays. This historic gem was tucked inside a black paper folder and the chairman of the society, Miroslav Kutlák, handles it with the utmost care. “It is a total of nineteen parts for thirteen instruments. All the notes are written in German, with Ludvík Schmidt listed as the author. This composer and conductor was commissioned in 1933 to produce musical accompaniments to the Passion Plays of Hořice. And we know from historical sources that the music was performed by members of the Czech-German Symphony Orchestra in České Budějovice.” Ludvík Schmidt completed the music for the passion play in 1935 and the play premiered a year later. The score has over 200 pages, which shows that the performances of the time were much longer than the Easter passion plays enacted today. According to Miroslav Kutlák, the pre-war concept of the Easter passion plays was an all-day affair with a reenactment of scenes from the Old Testament and the New Testament in which many of the locals took part. The score was donated to the Society for the Preservation of the Hořice Passion Plays by one of the town’s inhabitants. Radek Kamil Novák had it thanks to his grandfather, who also once performed in the plays. “My grandfather had a recycling paper yard in Hořice after the war. Sometime in the 1950s, someone threw the score away. Grandpa recognized its value, took it home and saved it. I knew from childhood that we had it, but I had no idea how valuable it was. It was only later that my father explained to me that it was the sheet music for the passion plays that used to be performed in our town.” The reason why Radek was unaware of this tradition as a child was that the plays were banned during two tumultuous periods of history – during the Nazi occupation and during the 40 years of communist rule. They were revived after 1993 –so Radek’s own children can once again be part of this long tradition. A digitized form of the 1935 score can be viewed on the website of the South Bohemian Research Library in České Budějovice.

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Experience a joyous and harmonious celebration of Fauré and Vivaldi

Conductor Andrew Nunn explains: “It has been five years since we performed Fauré’s Requiem and Vivaldi’s Gloria, and they are showcase pieces for us. I think they will really demonstrate the standard at which our choir is now singing, and how we have moved forward in that time. “We worked on the Vivaldi during lockdown, with members rehearsing and recording in their own living rooms, sending the individual movements to us online so we could put it all together.” He adds: “We called it the ‘Virtual Vivaldi’, and doing it again now is quite emotional, as it takes us back to that time when life was so difficult for everyone. It’s joyous to be able to perform it in person.” With new members, new soloists and organ accompaniment by Andrew Forbes, this revisiting of the two pieces will “feel very different”, adds Andrew. “It has been fantastic rediscovering these pieces, and I am sure audiences will love them too,” he explains. “Vivaldi’s Gloria is so inspiring, it’s joyous to sing. At our first rehearsal back after the festive holidays, it was the boost of energy we all needed. It is already sounding fantastic. “In contrast, the Fauré is reflective and very beautiful, with lovely, long melodic lines. The pieces complement each other very well. In February, the depths of winter, we wanted to bring something familiar and warm to audiences, something uplifting.” Bearsden Choir is passionate about supporting emerging talent. Andrew is hoping to revive his extremely successful education project of 2016 in the near future, and following on from last year’s premiere of Love Lives Beyond The Tomb, by choir member George Swann, the piece will receive a second outing in a new format at the spring concert in Glasgow City Halls on May 19. It will be the choir’s first orchestral concert since 2019. All three soloists performing in February – mezzo-soprano Caitlin MacKenzie, soprano Julia Callander and baritone Caspian Plummer – are current students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. “They bring a fresh energy, it’s exciting to work with emerging singers,” says Andrew. “It is really important to support the next generation of talent.” Caitlin Mackenzie was invited to sing with Bearsden Choir after working with Andrew at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland when she was part of its junior school. “The movements I sing are all so beautiful,” she explains. “I’ve sung both as a chorister and a soloist for Vivaldi’s Gloria and always enjoy singing the music. I’m really looking forward to hearing the choir in action.” Caitlin’s love of singing began when she was just eight years old, taking part in the National Youth Choir of Scotland’s regional group on the Isle of Lewis, where she grew up. She began lessons around the age of 12, and attended Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Juniors in Glasgow during her last year of high school. Caitlin recently graduated from the RCS with a first class honours degree, and is now studying for her Masters under the tutelage of Elizabeth McCormack. “I’ve attended several concerts by Bearsden Choir, all of which have been exceptional,” she adds. “I’m very excited to have been given the opportunity to work alongside them.” Bearsden Choir will be performing Fauré’s Requiem and Vivaldi’s Gloria at St John’s-Renfield Church in Glasgow on Saturday February 24 at 7.30pm. Tickets are available now from rcs.ac.uk/boxoffice

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Even after Ram temple construction, those living in negativity not leaving path of hatred: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday targeted the opposition Congress, saying they (its leaders) continue to live in negativity and are not ready to leave the path of hatred even when the grand Ram temple has been built in Ayodhya. These are the same people who raised questions on the existence of Lord Ram and created hurdles in the construction of his temple, Modi said. “And today, when a grand temple has been constructed at (Lord Ram’s) birthplace, when the entire country is happy with it, the people who live in negativity are not leaving the path of hatred,” the PM said. He was speaking at a public function at Tarabh in Gujarat’s Mehsana district after inaugurating the Valinath Mahadev temple and offering prayers there. PM Modi said this is the time when the work of God and work of nation are going on at a very fast pace. On one hand temples are being built in the country, while on the other hand lakhs of houses are being made for the poor, he said. PM Modi inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of various projects costing more than Rs 8,350 crore.

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Pro-gov’t Daily Rejects ‘electoral Silence’ Criticism Against Iran President – Iran Front Page

In an article on Thursday, Iran wrote, “The accusation of ‘electoral silence’ on the part of the government and the president is one of the tricks that can only be found in the bag of tricks of the deniers of the reality; those who try to pass off their delusions as political analysis and draw attention in this way.” The daily argued, “The facts and the evidence show that the government and the head of the government have not remained silent about the elections and an inclusive participation, but… are implementing all their executive power and political capacity for the election to fulfill their legal role.” The parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections are to be held on March 1 while the Guardian Council has disqualified many candidates for the polls, majority of them reformist hopefuls, including former reformist-leaning moderate president Hassan Rouhani. After being barred from running in the polls, Rouhani said for the first time since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, both the ruling government and the people are showing widespread apathy towards the vote, explaining that a high turnout would put an end to the incumbent administration. Analysts have warned that the tightening of the noose by the vetting body will lead to an overarching apathy and a rift between the ruling establishment and the nation.

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Ukraine Says Strike On Russian Troops In Kherson Kills Scores, Denies Losing Bridgehead On Dnieper Left…

Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of late opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, has filed a lawsuit in a Russian court demanding the release of her son’s body as outrage mounts over the authorities’ handling of Navalny’s death in an Arctic prison. A court in the Arctic region of Yamalo-Nenets said on February 21 that a hearing into complaint will be held on March 4. Navalny died in prison on February 16 but officials have repeatedly refused to return the body to his family claiming that an “investigation” into the cause of death would take up to two weeks. If the full two weeks are taken to examine Navalny’s body, it wouldn’t be released until March 4. Navalnaya has been trying to get access to her son’s body since his death in a prison of special regime, the harshest type of penitentiary in Russia, was announced. Prison officials said the 47-year-old died after he collapsed while being on a daily walk out of his cell. The Salekhard City Court told TASS news agency that the March 4 hearing set for Navalnaya’s lawsuit will be held behind closed doors. Navalny, 47, died in the town of Kharp near Salekhard. On February 20, Navalnaya posted a video on social media taken from outside the so-called Polar Wolf prison’s razor-wire topped fence pleading with President Vladimir Putin for his help. “I’m reaching out to you, Vladimir Putin. The resolution of this matter depends solely on you. Let me finally see my son. I demand that Aleksei’s body is released immediately, so that I can bury him like a human being,” she said in the video. A day before that, Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, accused Putin of killing her husband and accused officials of “cowardly and meanly hiding his body, refusing to give it to his mother and lying miserably.” The Kremlin has rejected any accusations of a role or subsequent coverup in the death of Putin’s most vocal critic. Penitentiary officials told Navalnaya that her son’s body was in a morgue in Salekhard, but the morgue turned out to be closed that evening, while its employees told Navalnaya that they do not have her son’s body. A day later Navalnaya again came to the morgue, but was not allowed to enter it. The Investigative Committee said the investigation of her son’s death was extended as investigators were conducting “chemical forensics” on Navalny’s body. Navalny’s self-exiled associate Ivan Zhdanov said on February 19 that Navalny’s body may be held by the authorities for a fortnight, adding that the goal of the investigation’s extension was “to cover up the crime.” The OVD-Info human rights group, however, said Russian laws may allow the Investigative Committee to hold Navalny’s body for up to 30 days. Since the announcement of his death, Russian police have cordoned off memorial sites where people were laying flowers and candles to honor Navalny, and dispersed and arrested hundreds of suspected violators in dozens of cities. Six residents of Russia’s second largest city, St. Petersburg, who served several days in jail for laying flowers at a makeshift memorial honoring Navalny were handed written summons on February 21 saying they must report to a military recruitment center. OVD-Info said that as of February 21, 397 people across 39 cities in Russia have been detained for commemorating Navalny since his death. With reporting by TASS

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Lionel Messi kicks off MLS season with man-of-the-match display · The 42

LIONEL MESSI PUT on a show in Inter Miami’s Major League Soccer curtain raiser against Real Salt Lake. Messi put in a man-of-the-match display for Tata Martino’s ambitious team in Wednesday’s 2-0 win, producing some outrageous footwork, seeing a free-kick cleared off the line and hitting the bar directly from a corner before setting up Robert Taylor’s opener. The 36-year-old received a half-time hug from Will Smith – one of the stars in attendance at upgraded Chase Stadium – and continued to play with an irresistible swagger. The first goal of 2024 belongs to Robert Taylor!The set-up from Messi and a finish to make it 1-0.

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A Billionaire Bought a Chunk of Manchester United. Now He Has to Fix It.

The process was six months old and already starting to wear on Jim Ratcliffe, the British billionaire, the first time he brought out the Champagne to toast his purchase of Manchester United. But even that celebration, at the Monaco Grand Prix in May, proved premature. There was no deal. Not yet. Doing one was never going to be easy. Mostly, that was because any potential sale for United offered a tantalizing marriage of money, power and history: Mr. Ratcliffe, the wealthy chairman of INEOS, the petrochemicals giant, had supported Manchester United since he was boy. United, the most decorated club in English soccer, was one of the most iconic brands in global sports. And the Premier League, to which it belonged, was the richest soccer league in the world. What ensued was an auction as unpredictable and chaotic as some of Manchester United’s most memorable games. The news media breathlessly tracked surges of momentum between Mr. Ratcliffe’s bid and a rival one led by a little-known Qatari sheikh. United fans, eager to see their club shake off its unpopular owners, the Florida-based Glazer family, devoured it all. Yet while the negotiations produced months of headlines, discussion and whispers, what they did not produce was a sale.

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