City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Victory Sandwich Bar restaurant review, Atlanta



The Great Recession has given Atlanta foodies plenty to lament. As many of us tighten our purse strings, the first restaurants to feel the pinch are understandably on the higher end of the spectrum, and we have witnessed the near disappearance of fine dining in Atlanta.

Review by Jon Watson

Review by Jon Watson

But there is a silver lining in all of this: While there may be fewer white tablecloths in town, we haven’t stopped eating out, and restaurateurs have to be more creative to compete for our everyday dining dollar.

One such byproduct of the new economy is Victory Sandwich Bar, tucked away on a side street in the heart of Inman Park. One part deli and one part pub, with a healthy dash of hipster, Victory offers something that few other restaurants in town can — a place to get affordable, creative sandwiches and a full bar serving up an impressive collection of cocktails.

Going for the retro-industrial look, the inside consists of plywood tables and steel park benches, walls of painted cinder block and reclaimed wood, and cement floors. A worn leather punching bag hangs by the bar right down from the pingpong table, and a projector screens “classics” against the wall of the dining room, such as Adam West’s campy “Batman“ or Sly Stallone’s riveting character drama “Cobra.”

If you are hankering for a gut-busting meal, Victory may not be what you are looking for. The menu is small, consisting of nine to 10 simple yet creative sandwiches served with potato chips and a handful of regularly rotating sides.

Victory at Sea (left) - white anchovies, frisee and lemon mayo. New Bomb Turk (right) - Turkey, arugula, avocado spread and baconaisse. Big Kahuna - Oil-packed tuna, red onion, capers and chickpeas. Enjoy with a frozen drink mix of Jack Daniels & Coke. (Photos by Becky Stein / Special)

Victory at Sea, left, with white anchovies, frisee and lemon mayo. New Bomb Turk, right, with turkey, arugula, avocado spread and baconaisse. Big Kahuna, rear, with oil-packed tuna, red onion, capers and chickpeas. (Photos by Becky Stein / Special)

The focus remains more on quality than portion size. Each sandwich amounts to roughly half of a serving, so most will want to spring for two. Three sandwiches in a sitting is feasible for heavier eaters.

Slow-cooked meat, though only sparsely featured, is a strong point for Victory. The Castro ($4), a take on a classic Cuban sandwich, highlights Victory’s tender smoked pork accented by Fontina cheese, ham and yellow mustard. Equally as satisfying is the Beast on Yeast ($4), a warm pile of juicy pot roast cut with sharp horseradish crème. All Victory’s meats are smoked or roasted in house and in limited supply, so don’t be surprised if you miss either of these late at night.

I do a double take when the New Bomb Turk hits my table. Rather than the deli-style sliced meat that I expected, I peel back the ciabatta bun to find generous hunks of smoked turkey. Though the avocado spread brings little in the way of flavor, the peppery arugula, light coat of Baconnaise and ample serving of meat makes for a delicious turkey sandwich.

After sampling every sandwich on the menu, I found myself enjoying all but the special, the Unibrow ($5). On paper, the flavor combinations — roasted lamb, fast-pickled onions and tzatziki sauce — sounded like a home run. But I found myself chewing through inches of bread only to find a few paper-thin shavings of under seasoned lamb. Three of us ordered this sandwich, and all agreed that the fillings took a back seat to the bun.

Beast on Yeast (center)- Pot roast with horseradish créme, Castro- slow- roasted pork, ham, pickle, fontina cheese and yellow mustard.

Beast on Yeast, left, pot roast with horseradish crème, and the slow-roasted pork Castro with ham, pickle, Fontina cheese and mustard.

The idea was good but proved improperly balanced in execution.

While the skimpy protein portion undid the Unibrow, the light serving of anchovies on the Victory at Sea ($4) packs just the right amount of salty, fishy punch. The acidity of the lemon mayo tempers the pungent fish nicely, making this a light and refreshing spin on a Caesar salad sandwich.

After lunch, Victory switches from counter service to full service for dinner. The menu doesn’t change, but it gives you a good excuse to start your meal with an appetizer and one of Victory’s impressively well-crafted cocktails. The hummus ($6) changes daily, so you may not get as lucky as I did with the delicious spicy black-eyed pea and jalapeno. Bourbon fans shouldn’t pass on the chance to sip on a Paper Plane ($7), a refreshing mix of Maker’s Mark, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, Aperol, amaro and ginger ale. And no trip to Victory is complete without a round of Jack and Coke slushies ($4).

Victory Sandwich Bar adds something to Atlanta’s dining scene that isn’t easy for most restaurants to accomplish: character. It is places like this — small, affordable and unique locally owned restaurants — that accent and enhance a neighborhood.

Every major culinary city needs a few fine-dining feathers for its cap, but it is the sandwich shops, delis and diners that make up the everyday experience of our food culture. lnman Park is lucky to have them.

2stars5280 Elizabeth St., Atlanta 770-676-7287
Food: Sandwiches, salads and cocktails
Service: Attentive and engaging
Best dishes: Castro, Beast on Yeast and Victory at Sea
Vegetarian selections: A few salads and the Hand Salad, a daily vegetarian special sandwich
Price range: $
Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily
Children: Fine during daylight hours
Parking: Sufficient, but can get tight on a busy day
Reservations: No
Wheelchair access: Yes
Smoking: No
Noise level: Moderate to loud
Patio: Yes
Takeout: Yes

52 comments Add your comment


July 28th, 2011
7:20 am

Hey can you guys redo your rating system or reiterate your ratings system? In the past 5 months on 3 restaurants have hit over 3 stars. Almost all of the restaurants you have been to achieved one star only. Normally on sites like this one star means awful. 2 stars means edible, but has serious flaws. 3 stars means ok, but there are a few little things that can be fixed. 4 stars means that the place is good. 5 stars means perfect!



July 28th, 2011
8:30 am


Just look to the right of your post, there’s a link that provides just what you ask:

Our Reviews & Dining Team Members

Where We’re Eating (new reviews every Thursday):
• All our recent restaurant reviews

• Behind our ratings: What the stars mean

Eats Out A Lot

July 28th, 2011
9:11 am

I agree with Christian. This rating system needs to go. I don’t think most readers take the time to click on another link to see that two stars is actually a decent rating. You are potentially hurting places like Victory with this system (I do not work in the industry by the way).

I don’t see why you need to separate cheap neighborhood restaurants from fine dining. I can see how a sandwich shop and a white tablecloth $$$$ restaurant can both get 5 stars. It is a balance of price, quality, service, etc.

Also, the current system is too limiting. A sandwich shop could get from poor to 2-stars, maybe 3. A fine dining establishment probably can get 5 or 4 stars, but then slips to fair or poor.


July 28th, 2011
9:37 am

Don’t waste your time arguing with John and Co. about their befuddling rating system. This blog is littered with the remains of those that have dared speak against it. Just do like the majority of us and ignore the nonsensical stars completely.


July 28th, 2011
9:53 am

I’m glad I read the comments because I thought with two stars the place sucked. I agree the rating system needs to be changed.


July 28th, 2011
10:01 am

Victory is wonderful! Great sandwiches and a solid drink menu. At times, the hipster service can be lame, but more often than not it’s fine.

I have read the explanation of the rating system and understand it perfectly well. However, as Christian points out, it’s a unique rating system–and it’s uniqueness does not make it, pun intended, more palatable. Instead, it’s counter-intuitive and potentially confusing. I agree that it should be changed.


July 28th, 2011
10:05 am

P.S. It’s worth noting that i have never seen anyone say “man, this rating system is great”. Everyone complains about it–it’s mind-boggling that no one at the ajc has insisted it be changed. In particular, it’s author’s insistence on continuing to use it in the face of such obvious disdain for it, is off-putting at best.

Mr. H

July 28th, 2011
10:06 am

I’m glad to see you’ve decided to shade the empty stars instead of leaving them white. Please tell – what exactly is the logic behind that move. Months ago I implored you to get rid of the empty stars all together, which I still think is the best move.

Good review, Jon. I wished you would have mentioned somewhere in the review that they have a daily vegetarian special, and even if you didn’t try it, what it was the day(s) you visited. We get it – you like meat, but if this is supposed to be a legit review and not a blog entry, then only noting it in the postscript isn’t enough.


July 28th, 2011
10:12 am

I agree. Change rating system.

Jon Watson

July 28th, 2011
10:22 am

@Mr. H – Unfortunately, because this review also runs in print, I’m limited by word count/space constraints, and the vegetarian selection didn’t make the final draft. However, the “Hand Salad” of that day that I had was a lovely caprese that I definitely enjoyed.

@All who don’t like the rating system – No single rating system will make everyone happy. A change to the system that Christian suggests would inevitably draw criticism that our rating system is too much like Yelp. I don’t make the rules, I just work here. When in doubt, read the review and decide for yourself.


July 28th, 2011
10:25 am

How about you take teh 5 minutes to actually READ the review and not rely on the stars! The critic will tell you a whole lot more in his words than you can ever get out of those effing stars.

People = morons!


July 28th, 2011
10:36 am

Mr. H,

They actually just have a daily vegetarian sandwich–not a daily special. And, it’s hands down the worst sandwich on the menu. I like vegetarian fare, but it’s a pretty unremarkable sandwich.


July 28th, 2011
10:49 am

In glancing over the page I don’t see the links to your cryptic rating system. Is the AJC always going to suck?


July 28th, 2011
10:56 am

As has been noted countless times, the rating system used here is only discernible by the reviewers. To people who casually glance at the ratings, perhaps looking for a new place to dine, they will only see the 2 stars and thus pass over what might be a great place. Why this blog thinks they can completely alter the “norm” for ratings with their own convoluted system is beyond me. I love this blog, I value the write ups here and read it every day. But the rating system is, at best, obtuse.


July 28th, 2011
10:59 am

Go look at the rating systems for major publications in markets like NY. They are structured in the same way. It makes sense if you read the explanation. Quit complaining and just enjoy the review. Content is more important than stars anyways.


July 28th, 2011
11:07 am

I completely agree with Christian..For God’s sake, please revise your would think a 2 is really bad… this restaurant sounds like a strong 3.5 or 4 given the review…


July 28th, 2011
11:11 am

I have to go along with the majority on being confused. I am not a repeat viewer of Food & More but like what I see and will try and come back.

That said I was totally confused by the tone of the article and only 2 stars. Now that I have found and reviewed the system it is as good as any other as long as you know what each star means.

Gotta say it is kind of hidden and it is a significant item to understanding the reviewers thoughts.

Real Estate on a webpage is a big issue but maybe there is some way to help the new reader.

Good review


July 28th, 2011
11:52 am

People who go to restaurants based on stars are just like the idiots who buy wine on point ratings. In reality, one persons 90 point wine or 4 star restaurant is crap to another person. You have to experience things for yourself. Read the reviews to determine if the restaurant or wine may fit your palate or mood. Let your tastebuds make your own rating.


July 28th, 2011
1:43 pm

@Wino: a topic close to my heart. As I had posted in an earlier review, “There is a virtually exact analogy [of the AJC star system] with how Robert Parker has laid waste to the craft of wine reviewing with the introduction of his 100 point scale.”

@Jon Watson: I hate the star system. I think it trivializes the wonderful, thoughtful work that you, John and the others do weekly. As you can see from these responses, no one seems happy with them. And I firmly believe that any change to another system will make just as many people unhappy. Even the purported defenders of the system like NomNomNom can do no better than to say “just ignore the ratings.” The solution is simple: eliminate the stars. It removes all of the confusion and angst, and might actually get people to read the reviews, instead of driving by to see the star count. I understand that there are likely commercial reasons that the AJC may force you all to use the stars. But at least you could stand up and admit in the blogs that the system is a joke.

And on a different note: Jon, you comment as to the dearth of fine dining in ATL, and suggest that the economy is to blame. I think the evidence suggests otherwise, and I believe it reflects the tastes (or lack thereof) of the ATL restaurant-going population. Despite the economy, there is no dearth of really interesting, innovative, wonderful fine dining in so many other cities. Look at the screaming success of Husk in Charleston, where I recently had one of the best restaurant meals of my life. How do you explain the plethora of fine dining choices in similar-sized cities like Boston, Vegas, DC, or San Francisco? It’s supply and demand, and unfortunately, Atlantans seem to want nothing more than to eat over-accessorized burgers, de- and re-constructed meat and three’s, or milk shakes with doughnuts blended in. Here’s hoping that you and your colleagues can continue to push ATL towards a more mature vision of restaurant dining.

david c

July 28th, 2011
2:00 pm

You lost me at “healthy dash of hipster”.


July 28th, 2011
2:06 pm

>Atlantans seem to want nothing more than to eat over-accessorized burgers, de- and re-constructed meat and three’s, or milk shakes with doughnuts blended in. Here’s hoping that you and your colleagues can continue to push ATL towards a more mature vision of restaurant dining.

These are the same people who don’t understand the star rating system used in every other major city population. I would also add chicken to your list. There are some really unrefined palates in this town.

Jimmy Baron

July 28th, 2011
4:19 pm

Mark, come on….. cities like Boston, Vegas, DC, or San Francisco……? Each of those places attract many, many more travelers, business and vacation, than the ATL. The best we can do is Flip and Yeah burgers, LOL.

Bob from Accounttemps

July 28th, 2011
4:24 pm

A simple fix for the star ratings would be to simply repeat in mouse type what they mean below the rating. That way, you (AJC) can retain a system that your readers all pan and the readers (regular or no) can fully understand the ratings you give. After all, isn’t that your intent — to have people understand and appreciate the ratings?

Bob from Accounttemps

July 28th, 2011
4:27 pm

I’ll add that regular readers of Car and Driver some years ago weren’t happy with a graphic re-do of the magazine. C&D told their readers to “stuff it” and that the professional re-design was expensive and would stay (can’t please all the people all the time, they said). Readership dropped, the editor in chief was fired and the magazine was redesigned. What do the readers know anyway?


July 28th, 2011
4:29 pm

Some of the top restaurants in NYC only get two stars. Perhaps the people who lack the intelligence to understand normal restaurant ratings (stars) should stick with their normal Olive Garden meals and not try to dumb down the system.


July 28th, 2011
4:43 pm

Here’s the short story: Eat there. Don’t bother. Food is mediocre and not even worth low bucks.

Creative Thinker

July 28th, 2011
4:44 pm

I can’t believe there are dumbasses defending this rating system. If it is creating that much confusion which apparently it is, just scrap the star system all together.


July 28th, 2011
5:23 pm

@Mark @Jimmy Baron — I would argue that Atlanta’s new(er) guard — Miller Union, Empire State South, H&F, Cakes & Ale, Local Three, One Eared Stag — make a strong case that our top tier dining isn’t nearly as dead as you both made it out to be.

And Jon, I’m happy to see some of our creative casual spots getting some attention.

Bob from Accounttemps

July 28th, 2011
5:32 pm

@Samfan – great attitude; let’s hope you don’t work in the service industry. I can see it now: “Hey, my burger is too well done – it’s like a hockey puck!”. @Samfan – “Shuddup!! You’re just too stupid to appreciate what I tell you is the right way to cook a burger!”


July 28th, 2011
5:52 pm

if you have to order 2 or 3 sandwiches to be satisfied, think i will pass. too many places you can go and get 1 great sandwich. pass


July 28th, 2011
5:56 pm

With all due respect, only idjets can be ‘confused’ by a five star rating system. The star rating systems have been around forever and I bet 90% of people have a good understanding of such ratings.

5 stars would mean a place -whether a steak house, a Thai restaurant, or sandwich shop- is the best in it’s class, perfect atmosphere, service and food to die for. Prices, whatever they may be, are inconsequential because all other factors make such a restaurant a ‘must dine there at least once’ experience. 5 star restaurants rarely exist, and when they do they seem to shine but for a while then fade. In Atlanta Nikolai’s Roof and La Grotta were exemplars for a while during the early 1980s. In New Orleans Commanders Palace occasionally reaches 5 star status. It did during the mid 1990s when Janie Shannon was chef.

4 star is a restaurant which consistently reaches excellence. A 4 star restaurant presents the finest and freshest viands, cooked with flair and intelligence, served by caring people in nice surroundings, even if not stunning fancy. Canoe in 2006 is an ATL example. Some might say Bacchanalia was better. I think both were 4 star experiences. (I haven’t been lately.) Pano’s and Paul’s exemplified the 4 star restaurant during the 1980s. Watershed during the early 2000s.

3 star signifies a ‘very good’ restaurant which will make most diners very happy on a consistent basis. Such restaurants can be Italian, Asian, Southern, American, steak, gourmand Latin or just about any cuisine. The key is they offer the best foodstuffs, fresh and carefully prepared. Servers are well-trained and responsive. The surroundings are always comfortable. Value received is at least equal to what you pay for meals. Hal’s on Old Ivy comes to mind. Also Shoya up in Doraville. Fox Bros Barbecue is the 3 star of BBQ. Cafe Agora in Buckhead has quirky atmosphere, inconsistent service but the food is always [i]fabulous[/i]. Thus it ranks 3 star with my household. So does the Colonnade.

A two star place is a dining mainstay for many. They can be very good at times, and offer enjoyable dishes -in whatever cuisine, Chinese, seafoods, burgers, whatever!- which make one happy for the price. Surroundings aren’t often fancy. Service can be good, or you can have counter service. The food in two star places isn’t ever thrilling but can be quite satisfying. IMHO, OK Cafe at West Paces Ferry personifies a nice 2 star place. Panahar on Buford hwy and Nuevo Laredo on Chattahoochee iare 2 star restaurants.

1 stars are the the run of take it or leave it. They’re the places not worth going out of one’s way. Most sandwich joints and burrito places fall into the one star category. They’re not bad restaurants but with a little effort a person can often find a better option in the same area.

Does this sound about right?

jay tee

July 28th, 2011
7:30 pm

Why do we need a star rating at all? Just read the review and decide if it sounds like a place you’d like to eat!

My Two Cents

July 28th, 2011
8:00 pm

Absolutely agree with you, jay tee!


July 28th, 2011
8:39 pm

@Baltisraul You do have to order more than one sandwich to be full, but they’re only $4! Compare that to a place like Super Pan and you come out about even.


July 28th, 2011
8:51 pm

At the very least, the AJC could put the “what’s behind our ratings” link directly under the….you guessed it….ratings! A link under or next to the stars would help a lot.

Mr. H

July 28th, 2011
11:28 pm

@Mimosa – Good post. I think you also highlighted what’s wrong with the rating system. JK recently said that 5-star dining doesn’t exist in Atlanta right now when he panned Bacchanalia and Eugene – but even when Watershed was at the top of its game it clearly wasn’t the same dining experience of those two. Neither is/was Canoe.

The confusion comes from the AJC deciding to make the dining section less formal by adopting the blog format and hiring bloggers (who have done a great job), but at the same time adopt the same rating system used by the top dining critics in the country (which the AJC cannot claim to be on the same level with.)

I don’t know what the solution is – maybe ditching ratings for Jon, Gene and Jenny and let John use his stars when he reviews the big players? It’s not like every taqueria or noodle shack gets a star rating in the NYT. When those three had popular personal blogs I don’t think any used a rating system and no one seemed to mind.

The AJC dining reviews still hold considerable weight and I don’t think it’s fair to places like Victory when a casual reader glances at the review, thinks they got 2 out of 5 stars and are below average. That has a direct impact on the restaurant’s bottom line.


July 29th, 2011
1:39 am

Mr. H: You aren’t in New York anymore, although I very much wish you were. JK doesn’t think any place in Atlanta is worthy a four stars, much less five because they don’t kiss his ass enough when he graces them with his presence. Kevin Gillespie was good enough to represent America in one of the most prestigious world wide cooking competitions, yet he wasn’t good enough to get even 4 stars from Kessler. Makes you wonder doesn’t it? Well actually for you it probably doesn’t. He’s picking up where Meridith hyphenated name (something with a ford in it) leaves off. Don’t bow down to the king and you get a poor rating.

Bacchnalia? Really? When I ate there it was average at best. The time I went to Nikolai’s Roof My wife and I ordered different entree’s with different “sauces”. The sauces were the same bland crap. Whe I spoke to the waiter he “assured” me that the chef told him i was mistaken. I spent three hundred bucks on crap. But crap sells. If the yuppies go and the advertizing dollars come, it’s great.

ANY “food critic” who is known is a fraud. If a place knows who you are they will kiss a “food critics” ass but if they do’t they will be slammed by said food critic. It’s such a sham………..


July 29th, 2011
3:47 am

Why do you all listen to all the bs comin outta of Kessler’s mouth anyhow? He just wants to be popular again. He doesn’t know a damn thing about running a restaurant, let alone be considered a guru of good food. His blog is a joke and a last cry for attention. But, as for Victory, it’s great, affordable, and quaint. And they got a really gorgeous staff.


July 29th, 2011
4:43 am

it’s allways about fancy foods, us rednecks read these blogs , if the parking lot is full it must be pretty good.

Bob from Accounttemps

July 29th, 2011
9:14 am

@Fred and @Mr. H: All I know is Kessler gave a rave review of Crawfish Shack in Chamblee and, based just on the review, I went with my family. Truly awful. No, I didn’t have crawfish, but if that’s all they can do well, then bad on them. It’s almost like we ate at different restaurants. And I do think Woodfire is outstanding.


July 29th, 2011
9:22 am

No Mimosa…that doesn’t sound about right.

You forgot about the times that no stars are highlighted and the words ‘Fair’ or ‘Poor’ are stamped over them.

How does that fit into your ‘idjet’ proof rating system?


July 29th, 2011
11:39 am

Mimosa, I agree with your assessment of the 5 star rating system. The five star system is now an institution.

After having looked at food reviews using starred systems for over 20 years, I have a pretty clear understanding of what the stars are trying to tell me, or so I thought. My view of what they were supposed to mean matches Mimosa’s view, point for point. For example, looking at this review, I’d think the 2 stars was about right due to the skimpy fillings, as I wouldn’t go out of my way to pay for three sandwiches to fill my stomach full of bread. If the reviewer was trying to tell me that I must not miss an opportunity to eat at this sandwich shop, I missed his point completely.

If AJC is unwilling to use the 5 star system the way that everyone else does it, why not go to a numbered system like Zagat then? (e.g. rating food, service, atmosphere categories separately. Each category earning a max score of 25. Why mess with the institution of the 5 star system?


July 29th, 2011
11:53 am

Just tell me it’s good, and I’m there. Can’t wait to try this place.


July 29th, 2011
12:16 pm

these food critics wouldn’t no good food if it hit them in the nutts! think they would eat SOS is it was thought to be hip or cool. notice how many of the places they like, fail to survive. the paying public is not fooled by these “high brow” jerks


July 29th, 2011
2:22 pm

I think they also have gluten-free bread for sandwiches sometimes? Most of the times? Anyone been lately to confirm that?


July 30th, 2011
11:12 am

Agree with other comments. Change your rating system. I saw the 2 stars, glanced at your article and thought the place sucked.


July 30th, 2011
11:34 am

There are few good places to eat in the Atlanta area, and the “critics” at AJC couldn’t find them with a map to them tattooed on their faces. The AJC in print or online form is an embarrassment.

At least with the online version you are not directly providing them revenue.


July 30th, 2011
8:06 pm

Jessica….the article states that you need 2 maybe 3 to get a full sandwich meal. Maybe you read the wrong article!!!!!!!!!!!!! I still pass, unless it is Lent and I must fast.


August 1st, 2011
7:57 am

1st trip to Muss & Turner’s weeks ago was awsome! This weekend a disaster: I had the featured burger again and was very dissapointed, flat tasting with cold bun. My wife had the Reason/Reuben which was not grilled and small amount of meat and uneventful. What’s up with this stupid marble bread? ( “This is a must for the serious reuben connoisseur” ) NOT! Go back to NY and learn how it’s made. The highlight of the lunch was the fries and beer! Maybe they have different chefs for the weekend. I’ll try again during the week. BTW, the Easter Chick hostess was amusing!


August 1st, 2011
12:51 pm

@baker: “Miller Union, Empire State South, H&F, Cakes & Ale, Local Three, One Eared Stag “. Just my point. All of them are just variations on the same theme serving good, but interchangeable food. You could take any menu entry from one of those restaurants and put it onto the menu of another and no one would blink an eye. It’s all “casual, seasonal, local,” New American, Contemporary Southern, Updated Meat & 3. I love eating at most of those places, but really, that’s the best we can do???

What about a classic French place? Exquisite, cutting edge Italian? OMG, what would you do for a really good seafood place (where fish and chips is not a central offering). Cuban? You can go on and on, but you can’t find it here. And, even if meat & 3 is what you want, they do it better elsewhere (Husk!).