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Almost Famous Burgers - Reviewed And Exposed

Jonathan Schofield finds Americana paradise up a spooky staircase

Published on April 2nd 2012.


Almost Famous Burgers - Reviewed And Exposed

Call me a whistle-blower.

Or a sneak.

Maybe call me a food correspondent uncovering the truth on the food frontline. But let's not be absurd. 

Confidential has come across a food secret the city needs to know about.  

The Triple Nom was the best burger I've had in ages, makes GBK's versions look boring and last year's news. There is nothing as good in any chain or independent in the city.

Not that the place might agree.

On the coy venue’s webpage it announces in shaky capitals, as if tapped out on Hemingway’s old Olympus: ‘NO PRESS NO PHOTOGRAPHY NO BLOGGERS NO BLAGGERS NO KETCHUP. EVERYTHING ELSE GOES.’

Ernest Hemingway With Almost Burger Drink Finishes Off The Almost Burger MenuErnest Hemingway with cocktail in hand finishes off the menu

Boo to that.

It’s time to spread the word. It's happening anyway. Welcome to Almost Famous Burgers (AFB).

Almostfamous 028Horror stairsTo sample the joys of this place, first locate the anonymous, unmarked, brown door next to Socio Rehab on High Street in the Northern Quarter. Push it open and take the long horror movie staircase past cheap wooden doors of the type in B-movies featuring US motels and unknown horrors.

At the top of the stairs there's a riddle of more cheap doors. Guess right and you enter one of the smoothest places in the city, one that carries that whiff of people knowing what they’re doing and getting it right.

We found a table straight away but we’d got there at 5.05pm on a Friday and AFB only opens on a Friday and Saturday from 5pm-1am. By half past five it was filling with bright looking people in their mid-twenties and mid-thirties decked out confidently and casually. From the window a very different crowd could be seen yawing and yapping at Blu.  

Interior chicInterior chic with no photography signs

Boss of AFB, Beau bowled over as soon as I started to take pics and said with a wink, “Hey, no pics, can’t you see the no photography signs.”

People who know cocktails will know Beau Myers from Socio Rehab the bar in the same building on the corner with Edge Street. He's turned his attention to burgers in AFB.

“I wanted the best quality, real deal American burgers, my parents are from California, and I just couldn’t get them in Manchester. We’re seeing what we can do here, seeing if we can get close.”

He’s got close.

I had the Triple Nom Burger for £6.50, my nineteen year old son, Jacob, had the Double Burger for £5.50. Side order of the crack wings (£3.50) between us as well, 'the red-neck' ones, with a good hot sauce for licking off your fingers and plenty of flesh to get your teeth into. 

Look at the prices. The food is good value even if it does come served in a plastic peg basket.

Heaven comes in a plastic peg basketHeaven comes in a plastic peg basket

The Triple was a beast. It had beautiful fresh ground steak, 100% all meat, cooked pink so the meat seemed to float inside a semi-brioche bun, which holds together beautifully and then adds a delicate sweetness. Aside from the steak you get a layer of melt-in-the-mouth exquisite rib meat, slow cooked and bursting with animal flavour. Along for the party there was cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles and of course 'a secret sauce'.

Another peg basket appeared with more sauces. “What’s in that yellow one aside from the mustard?” I asked. “It’s a secret,” came the reply.

Shush it's a secretShush it's a secret

The fries with the burgers should be mentioned, nice combination of spud and sweet potato for dipping in the mystery sauces.  

The Triple Nom was the best burger I've had in ages, makes GBK's versions look boring and last year's news. There is nothing as good in any chain or independent in the city I know of.

Jacob had finished his burger quicker than me, not letting the pater familias and critic get a look in.

“The verdict?” I asked.

“Juicy. Meaty. Great," he said. He looked at me as though, yeah, and?

I’m reckoning that by 25 years of age we’ll be back to full sentences.

Sticky good wingsSticky good wings

The whole AFB experience was excellent, the clever novelty thrilling.

From the anonymous entry, to the location in the rafters of an Edwardian market building with exposed brick and cheeky airbrushed posters of naked girls riding cigars, to the glorious burgers, this is a winner. Easy-going, but artful and carefully planned as well.

We drank Dos Equis beers from the ice bucket, Mexican lager which suited the food. There are bourbons galore here, and a million cocktails, as you’d expect from this upstairs relation of Socio Rehab, but cocktails ain’t my field so I’ll leave that to other foragers. The drinks come in old-fashioned jam jars, AFB will have to take care it doesn't take it's determination to be edgy too far. 

I glanced at the specials as we left.

Next time I might go for the Lucky Pig Burger at £7.50, this time on a limited edition run of fifty: ‘Double burger and cheese topped with spiced potato, hashbrown, smoked back bacon, pokey bbq sauce, finished with bourbon maple butter and mini cinnabon topped bun.’ Hashbrown on a burger. Outstanding.

As we walked down High Street with the Friday night bustle starting to kick in, Jacob said, phone in hand: “What’s the address of that place again? Going to take my mates, they’d love it.”

“I think you’re supposed to find it for yourself,” I said, wiping a last bit of sticky crazy wing glaze off a finger.

He looked back.

“Which door was it again?” he said.

But AFB had disappeared. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE. 

Almost Famous Burgers, 100 High Street, Northern Quarter, M4 1HP Click here

Rating: 16.5/20
Food: 8/10
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 4.5/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

Coke in a jarCoke in a jar

MenuMenu

Menu againMenu again

Blu getting busyBlu getting busy

Almostfamous 006Burger temple

 

Tom from the Liquorists was in and said the wings were needed and we'd need the kitchen roll. He is a wise man, we did indeedTom from the Liquorists was in and said the wings were messy and we'd need the kitchen roll. He is a wise man, we did indeed

Liberated bottle of lethal that's bigger than two whole peopleLiberated bottle of lethal that's bigger than two whole people

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71 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousApril 2nd 2012.

They were at MFDF. I had a triple burger.

AnonymousApril 2nd 2012.

Mega noms - best burgers in town.

AnonymousApril 2nd 2012.

without a doubt the best place in the whole city centre... though pay day rendered it a bit full of idiots on Friday, a shame. Can't wait for everyone to be spent up so I can go back and enjoy it being a bit quieter. Though maybe not after this review?!

PaulaApril 2nd 2012.

Best burgers in town by far, great addition to the NQ!!

AnonymousApril 2nd 2012.

Far too crude, Anon. Editorial

TaTaTarrrrrrrApril 2nd 2012.

Gentle burgers from heaven these boys are

JennyApril 2nd 2012.

This reminds me so much of my favorite burger place EVER, even down to the kitchen roll on the tables. I happily queued out of the door it was so good...same concept, quality ingeredients, simple (ish menu)...however http://www.farmburger.net/ : ( , I haven't had a burger that was even close since...cannot wait!

1 Response: Reply To This...
GlossopsharkApril 3rd 2012.

Hmmmm, Blackboard burger no.5 - best thing I have tasted in years - good call Jenny!

AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

The Almost Famous guys need to make this a permanent addition to the NQ. I read on their twitter feed that they're already over half way through their run, so only a couple more weeks of 'Trailer trash fries' and winning burgers.

AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

Great! Thanks Man Con, now I can't wait for this wonderful little secret spot to be overun by all the idiots that appear in the NQtr on Sat nights......

3 Responses: Reply To This...
TigerBloodApril 3rd 2012.

hey it was always going to happen - but i'm hoping our lack of bright signage and mysterious stairway entrance will keep the weekend warriors and yahoos away
we have a pretty down to earth approach - we want to serve top notch juicy burgers to decent people that appreciate them - (and have a frickin epic good time along the way) come play soon x

AnonymousApril 5th 2012.

Comments like this make me not want to go to what seems like an excellent place. I wouldn't have heard about the place if it wasn't for this article, does that make me any less valuable as a customer?

AnonymousApril 13th 2012.

Anon 2... yes it does, if you had to come here to find out about it, you kinda don't get what the NQ is / was all about before the printworks crew started rollin in on the weekends

David BishopApril 3rd 2012.

Yeah really hoping that Beau and the team make this a permanent addition... the burgers are astouding and I think you'd struggle to find a cocktail as good as "Bitch Juice"! anywhere.

Although having to schedule extra kettlebells after Fridays eating there!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
TigerBloodApril 3rd 2012.

Dave you really need to get on the BURGERDIET - a nutritious double burger for breakfast, blend one up to sip during the day then a delicious animal burger for dinner - burgers get you ripped man...
and we're working on making it a permanent feature - juicy NOMs will continue x

David BishopApril 5th 2012.

"burgers get you ripped" love it !

AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

No denying best burger in town by far but lets be honest it's not a pop-up by any stretch, it's very permanent just look at the set up. My few gripes were the crowd of pissed up blokes who had found it (many more will) and well the rude barstaff, they seemed completely up their own arses when asked questions about the food/drink which put me off going again.

1 Response: Reply To This...
BeauApril 3rd 2012.

we have 3 weeks left to run - ahhhhh - but yes we will try to make it permanent - having too much fun not to
I didn't see the crowd of pissed up blokes - we encourage a good time but this doesn't sound like a WINNING combination - we'll keep them out in future
As for the barstaff - sometimes their banter and whole persona of 'tigerblood' 'adonis DNA' and 'BIWINNING' can come across in the wrong way- i'll adjust their medication and have a stern word - i'm sorry this upset you and marred your experience
we're about good food and good times, come back and play soon - i'll make you smile and rope off the idiots x

folkdeejayApril 3rd 2012.

What day is this ??

Harriet CunninghamApril 3rd 2012.

by far the best burger place in town, amazing food, good atmostphere and amazing service, all for really decent value prices. basically what more could you want! just want to see this a permenant fixture

AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

Do you have a vege option?

1 Response: Reply To This...
BeauApril 4th 2012.

we live by the kinda "You either love or you hate. You live in the middle, you get nothing." mentality - burgers are our thing - having said that we do some kick ass crack wings (chicken's not really meat is it?) and some filthy dirty trailer trash fries - loaded with cheese onions filth and satisfaction

Jammer PApril 3rd 2012.

Yo me and my north Qarter dons are comin fri nite for sum munch, gonna merk some nom burger they look sick! trus i told all ma bredrin on fb and myspace to get ya sum rep.. look owt for ma man dem fri nite, we in this trus. check me art on fb sondcloud or myspace for phat beats, we vibin, look owt for us frio night, we wgna storm dis joint!! piff.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

Total, total twat.

Rachel GreenJuly 20th 2012.

Agreed

Jammer PApril 3rd 2012.

Hope u got sum pretty ladies man dem is smoov TRUS

Jemma FieldingApril 3rd 2012.

are they gonna get arsey if i need a burger well done?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 4th 2012.

I saw someone ask for well done and rudely told they are served pink...

BeauApril 4th 2012.

Hi Jemma of course you can have it well done - for taste and satisfaction its best just pink for sure - but i understand some people may HAVE to have it cooked well - NO PROBLEM - add some extra sauce and it'll be just as good!

Staff
Drew SmithApril 3rd 2012.

Hi J- you wanna catch monsieur ramsay with this disfunctional family who cannot cook a burger to save their lives...
www.channel4.com/…/episode-3…

Cap'n BullseyeApril 3rd 2012.

PLEASE tell me you still be open in May?!? I'm not back in town until then....

HeadjackApril 3rd 2012.

Surely opening other nights would help? I live in town and prefer to eat out during the week to avoid the rush / weekend crowd. You're not going to get [as] many p*ssed up lager louts eating there on a Wed/Thur.

1 Response: Reply To This...
HeadjackApril 3rd 2012.

Also, do you guys do bookings? I can see the other restaurants around NQ doing pretty well from me rocking up every Fri/Sat for the next few weeks, not getting a table and having to elsewhere...!

HarryApril 4th 2012.

Blessed are the burgermeisters because they will spice up my belly

Jammer PApril 4th 2012.

Jammer PYesterday morning at 12:24 PM.Yo me and my north Qarter dons are comin fri nite for sum munch, gonna merk some nom burger they look sick! trus i told all ma bredrin on fb and myspace to get ya sum rep.. look owt for ma man dem fri nite, we in this trus. check me art on fb sondcloud or myspace for phat beats, we vibin, look owt for us frio night, we wgna storm dis joint!! piff.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousYesterday morning at 12:46 PM.Total, total twat.

Look at dis fool hidin behind anonymous name, scared to show who he is cus he know i will box him up gud and propa if me or ma crewe find out who he is. TRUS DAT.

AnonymousApril 4th 2012.

Beau, I'm sure that you won't, but please don't listen to those asking for 7 day opening, or bookings. I love the fact that AF is different and has people behind it who have passion. Only opening Fri/Sat gives me something to look forward to for the rest of the week. Keep on WINNING

BeauApril 4th 2012.

Hey all -
wow thanks for all the interest and amazing comments - we're simple burger lovin people with a simple no frills hidden venue - we like special things and secrets - clearly words out here so i though i'd end a little speculation and say THANKS for your support.

We're open for another 3 weekends - this weekend FRIDAY SATURDAY AND SUNDAY - the others just friday saturday.
At that point we'll have a mad closing party (standard night really)
Hopefully if we say and do the right things for the fine City of Manchester council we can make this a permanent venue - at that point the ideal would be to open thursday - sunday nights - with an all day burger fest on sundays.
Follow us on twitter here - https://twitter.com/#!/AlmostFamousMCR - to keep in the loop with what we're up to - but be warned i am slightly tapped in the head and posts range from benign to delusional but most are manic and have no relevance to burgers or Almost Famous; I have a different constitution. I have a different brain; I have a different heart; I got tiger blood, man.

Glad people are liking it - we really are just out to serve what we think is the best burger we can and some kick-ass cocktails to go with it - bit taken aback it's so popular - THANKS x x x
So i'm going back to the anonymity of our NQ crowsnest hideaway now - you wont hear from me or see me again - i'll be at the bottom of a whiskey bottle with burger juice down my chin.

WINNING

1 Response: Reply To This...
ElenaOctober 12th 2012.

Well, 2 hours wait at Almost famous burgers last Friday!! When I thought that we were finally going to eat, there were another queue... 20min outside, 45min at the bar and after ordering, another 50min waiting for our food at the table! There is no real system for the queuing, just a little blond lady deciding who's going to sit next!

So ended up spending £40 on drinks and £20 for food... was it worth it?? Hummm... The burgers were great, as well as the chilli cheese fries, but anyone who has been to the Fast food chain In-N-Out in California would recognize some of their not-so-secret burgers and chilli cheese fries that are so famous in the whole USA!
Also by 9pm, most of the staff at the bar were very merry, to be polite... :-)

If anyone else could open in Manchester a place similar that does cheap nice burgers with a real management system (of customers, queues, staff), that might force Almost famous burgers to improve their customer service side.

If a fast food chain in the US can do it, making good burgers is certainly not rocket science. It's a shame cos customer service should be important, but when you're so successful and there's no competition, there's no need for customer service!

bigearsApril 4th 2012.

i love the sound of this concept! like something from man v food! tapped owner (his words!) = mental food! cant wait to try this place

Cap'n BullseyeApril 4th 2012.

all day burger fest...mmmm

Jemma FieldingApril 5th 2012.

That's good re - "well done."
I hate asking for it as it sounds fussy and I know some places refuse but I am knocked up and cant eat rare meat! ;)

Debbie Vearnals shared this on Facebook on April 6th 2012.
AnonymousApril 7th 2012.

Hi all, does anyone know if children are allowed? Thanks.

AnonymousApril 7th 2012.

For the massive hype the burgers did not live to name I'm sorry but we left starving. American burgers and slabbs of meat was expected and I was faced with a greasy bun and a minimal height dollop of meat. They are far from the bigg juicy american burgers I have countless times. Sorry to be a critic but this will become apparent very soon.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 10th 2012.

probably not, as there are only 2 weeks left.

@ManctasticApril 7th 2012.

Jesus, No Children, thanks

Nick SpraggApril 10th 2012.

Sadly, it feels a little like when everyone else discovered Nirvana, when you'd been there from the start.

I'd love to see it permanently there but am worried it would get ruined by idiots. Been three weekends so far and going to attempt the final one. It's just what we need in the NQ, great fodder at reasonable prices and a great down to earth atmosphere where you can generally pop in and end up bumping into someone you know. Like a local for burger munchers. It needs to stay simple to work, but I also appreciate that it can't keep on taking so long to get the food to the punters. We didn't mind that much on Fri as we were there for booze and good times as well, but if people expect a quick pre-gig treat it won't really be for them. Maybe chef is a bit flat out?

AnonymousApril 10th 2012.

From Socio Rehab to Almost Famous to Keko Moku - the best weekend of the year so far.

James PatricksApril 12th 2012.

Finally got chance to check out Almost Famous last Friday. After a brief queue to get in (which surely is a good thing?) we went up the semi-run down stairs wondering where the hell we were going and if we'd gone in the wrong door... but low and behold we we were in the right place. First impressions of the place were great, the artwork/decor/design worked well, with enough space between the tables and enough interesting things to look at (Charlie Sheen quotes on the wall?! - loved it). Our cocktails were fab, potent to say the least and after about a 15 minute wait our food arrived. Burgers were juicy as hell, pink in the middle (just how I like them), fries were crispy and wings were moreish (due to the crack?). After a few more cocktails we just about made our way down the stairs and out in to the busy NQ where we carried on our night.

All in all one of the better burger joints that I've visited and will definitely be returning before they close shop.

Claire EwingApril 22nd 2012.

Disasterous night for us, joined the queue at 6.30 and there were 33people in front of us, left the queue and went for a drink, rejoined the queue at 7.30 only 30 people in front, left the queue for another drink, rejoined the q at 9.30 only 2 people in front of us woo. Got in got a table waited 25mins to get served, didnt get served - left!!! if we had blonde hair and nice boobies would have got served we think. Kebab and home :(

1 Response: Reply To This...
Beau BeauMay 1st 2012.

Hi Claire.... Ahhhhhhh! Disastrous indeed- Maybe at 930 when we're in more of a bar mode you weren't greeted and hosted as well as you could have been--- it's order at the bar / no service at the tables - sorry. I'm sure you had some of the best boobies in there - and blondes are always second best- if we ever come back to town I'll make sure you don't queue again - and I'll personally wait on you.
Good thing to come out of this--- a guilt free and well deserved KEBAB--- get in!- I'm jealous.

AnonymousApril 24th 2012.

Reading some of the comments above confirms everything that is wrong with the Northern Quarter these days. The hipsters who have got such a hard-on for themselves, because they think they are in on something 'secret'. You too cool for school aren't you? The 'idiots' to which they refer? Who are they? Are they idiots because they don't have beards, don't work in digital media, and don't dress like a walking advert for Oi Polloi? Why aren't you currently in Brooklyn NYC, sipping Pabst Blue Ribbon in the latest bar-cum-bicycle maintenance workshop, as that is surely your true calling in life, oh arbiter of all thinks cool?

No my friends, if you think that AFB is a place that only you are entitled to, and the rest should merely aspire to; if that is the extent of your bleeding-edginess ("No Photography" - do me a f***ing favour, who wants to take photos in a burger joint FFS?) then it is you who are the idiots.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Beau BeauMay 1st 2012.

We can't help where we're positioned - it's a great spot in the NQ and endless entertainment and people watching - where else do you see so many Robinson crusoe wannabes and youngins

Beau BeauMay 1st 2012.

Frickin IPhone button press... Younguns dressed like old-uns
Yeah the NQ has a few self righteous and pretension issues - but overall it's a great place to be. AFB is for everyone who appreciates good food food times and bad music. The amazing diversity of characters in there has made it the exciting place it is (WAS - (why do I even care - we're closed))
Come play soon though I'll buy you whiskey and we'll give out hipster awards--- love your spirit

Charlie ButterworthApril 24th 2012.

Anonymous in the rant above, it would seem you are a very angry person with no sense of humour and a very dull outlook.

Jenny CollinsApril 25th 2012.

LOVED the food, the drink and the service... however we said we didn't mind sharing the space we were sat in with others. Wish I hadn't... these so called friends of the owners spoiled it for us by playing hipster top trumps (verbally). They loved telling us (I've lived in the NQ 15 years) where we should go (they knew the coolest places) and what we should listen to. Then they invited more friends to sit on top of us (actually happened) turned thier backs and ignored us...we left without ordering more food or drinks. Please AFB dont let fake glasses wearing idoits like this spoil your new venture. WE know you have a new venture as your 'friends' informed us but they couldn't tell us when or where as it was hush hush, but they knew!!! ARGH!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Beau BeauMay 1st 2012.

Meh! Gosh I can't believe I'd bring this hipster plague upon you!? I'm so not hipster - more like a fast ageing parent dressing a little too young for his age and turning the wrong heads in the playground. Hipsters generally detest me.

I'll let you into a little secret even the hipsters aren't on to - we're having a one off special nx Thursday (midweek roll/school night session / I need a holiday party) - working with the launch of a new whiskey product to bring you a smasher. leave your natty jumpers beards and top trumps at the door and get on up. (table all to yourselves)

AnonymousJune 15th 2012.

is this still open?

AnonymousJune 21st 2012.

Is it that hard to have a veggie burger?

Bob the BritJuly 19th 2012.

Yaay! Looks like they're back!

I was wandering past this evening, deciding where to eat, when I saw a doorman lurking purposefully outside the door. It was a 'soft launch' evening, but I blagged my way in.

I enjoyed a Smokey and the Bandit Burger, along with the Chilli Cheese fries... and what can I say? As a self-confessed Burger freak - I've visited 32 Hard Rock Cafe's and counting - this was THE BEST BURGER I'VE EVER EATEN.

Rich, juicy, tasty, with crispy bacon, melted cheese and 'baconnaise'... cooked medium... what's not to love? Nom nom nom. The cooks in a couple of bars less than a stone's throw away could learn a lesson or two.

Long may they reign in Manchester.

Hero
The LiquoristsJuly 23rd 2012.

Fuck Veggie Burgers

Bob the BritJuly 24th 2012.

I have a friend who suggests that Vegetarianism is abdicating 60 million years of evolution.

Humans got (close to) the top of the food chain for a reason.

SimonJuly 24th 2012.

Does Tom Mcneeney work here?

AnonymousSeptember 17th 2012.

I took 14 people in yesterday at about 5:15pm, all had a fantastic time, food was proper 'Man VS Food' business (excellent) and the staff are a credit to your operation especially the waitresses. PHO KING WINGS are the nicest thing I have ever tasted. Please stay open.

Paul CarterSeptember 17th 2012.

Visited on Saturday after a crawl round the Northern Quarter. Think I had a few Old Fashioneds and vaguely remember seeing a really top burger. Can't remember leaving, can't remember getting home. What a great night.

CastromofoDecember 31st 2012.

ahh the old hipsters vs used to be hipsters vs not hipsters vs normals debate. is it not possible we've ALL been had?

MikeFebruary 9th 2013.

Forget the clever marketing and smart use of social media, I am not a hipster (nor would I ever want to be) but I know that I had a great burger at AFB. That's he bottom line surely :)

AnonymousFebruary 10th 2013.

Still a decent queue for AFB these days - including tonight (Sunday) about 7pm.

AdeyMarch 28th 2013.

getting sloppy with presentation and just a bit too 'querky' with what goes on in a burger - tame it down - i hate bein sick quick ! so back to my other fav joint tv21

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 28th 2013.

Quirky you prick.

AnonymousMarch 28th 2013.

The lesson of AFB is that you can get away with gimmicks (queuing for an hour in January, pretending it's a temporary joint, the unmarked door, the "no photography" etc rules) - as long as the food is good enough to justify the hype, and apparently it is!

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