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Danny rarely gets to pick the restaurant. Not because I’m a crazy control freak either (I know where some of your minds went), but because whenever the opportunity presents itself, he opts out and wants someone else to choose. I think making others happy is just so deeply ingrained in his nature that he cannot help himself (his parents definitely did a good job). It can be endearing and frustrating all at the same time.

Nancy and Chuck

Once a year, on his birthday, I try and get him to voice his opinion so we’ll end up somewhere he really wants to be. This year, he said, “Just choose somewhere on your LIST.” You would think that is easy, and it would be, if it was MY birthday. Afterall, these are the places that I really want to go. Does Danny want to spend his birthday eating “girl food” as he would call it? Probably not. So I took a look at the LIST to see what places I was not quite as excited about…greasy home cooking was staring me in the face….and I thought, “PERFECT!” Either that or Mexican food. Now I like both of these options, but as a girl that tries to pick healthy choices….these two avenues just aren’t go-to-hot-spots for people that want to be slim and trim. But Celebration on West Lovers, you proved me wrong on several accounts. Greasy food….nope. Delicious fried (and not fried) dishes with sides straight out of someone’s garden…absolutely! And even some fried okra that tastes like someone picked it, chopped it, and battered it that morning, just like Nana used to make.

First, the bread basket was quite interesting. It was packed full of cornbread, rolls, and blueberry and pumpkin muffins. Yes, muffins as an appetizer. You would think that might be a turn off, but it is not. Especially when you taste their pumpkin muffin! Sugar and spice and all that’s nice…even months after Thanksgiving.

The house salad was fresh and came with your choice of dressing. I had been reading good things about the ranch dressing, so that’s what I chose, although Nancy had the cucumber ranch and I think I might even like that better. For Danny, it was the blue cheese, pear, walnut salad.

The cool thing about this place is they serve things family style. They take family style seriously. Picture being at your house, no make that your grandma’s house and she really, really likes to feed you. “Oh, you finished all of your mashed potatoes, do you want more?,” she asks.

“Sure,” you answer. “Why not?,” you think to yourself.

“What about more okra?,” she suggests.

“Yes, please,” you answer.

She suggestively sells, “I’ve got another chicken friend steak left. It’s a little smaller so I’m sure you’ll be able to finish it.”

“Well, I sure wouldn’t want it to go to waste. I never eat chicken fried steak, so okay, I’ll have seconds,” you concede.

Now this is the concept behind Celebration. It’s like you are at your grandma’s table (the restaurant is set in a house, by the way) and she’s in the kitchen serving up the never-ending seconds (free-of-charge of course) we’ve all come to love. Seriously, if someone told me they were holding a grandmother hostage in the kitchen and making her slave over the stove, I’d believe it. The food tastes that good and fresh. 40 years of cooking and this place sure has it down.

Without further adieu, our entrees paired with squash, herbed new potatoes, and steamed chard (which tasted a lot like steamed spinach/collard greens).

Fried Catfish

Jerk Chicken - quite spicy to me, but I think I got a bite of super spices all clumped together

Chicken Fried Black Angus Sirloin in Jalapeno Gravy

Chicken Fried Chicken in Jalapeno Gravy- before the sides

We all agreed that the side dish we would trade in next time would be the roasted potatoes. Perhaps the mashed potatoes might be a little more to our liking? When I was reading reviews online, it was suggested that you may be able to order side dishes that are not featured on the menu that day. The restaurant prepares take out meals via online orders and dinners for 2/4 on weeknights at their Market next door. Now this intrigues me because I saw that they make squash and broccoli rice casserole and these are two of my favorites. I cannot confirm if this is true, but if anyone knows for certain….please let me know.

We could not leave without dessert..

Banana Pudding - Danny's choice

Coconut Pie - Chuck's choice

If I must declare a winner, I’d say Chuck won this round. Danny would disagree, however, because he greatly enjoyed the pudding for the two reasons I didn’t: runnier consistency and lightly sweet. My favorite puddings are the complete opposite.

We left happy and full and Chuck even introduced me to a new Malbec wine. He is the wine enthusiast in our life and it’s nice to have someone that knows his stuff! I, on the other hand, am just starting to learn a thing or two. I’ll add Malbec to my favorites, along with Pinot Noir.

Although this statement/title cracked up sibling #4, it is true. After going to Celebration for Danny’s birthday dinner with his parents, I was in fact 3 lbs. lighter the next day. Now, I can’t guarantee these results for everyone, but I thought I should at least let you know about it….in case there is some combination of jalapeno gravy, chicken fried chicken, and garden vegetables that works as a super metabolism booster that science has yet to prove. If anyone’s interested in doing their own single-subject research, then Celebration would be happy to serve you up a meal. Perhaps you, too, will lose a few!

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What to Order: Well, it’s hard to pick because everything was sooo good, fresh (no canned vegetables here), and local. This will most definitely be a return destination. Byt the way, Celebration is the perfect place to bring out of town guests that are wanting the full southern experience. If you have one night in Dallas, this is somewhere you should go.

1. Chicken Fried Chicken

2. Catfish – I’m assuming this one was good….the orderer did not share, so that’s usually a good sign 😉

3. Fried Okra

4. Coconut Pie

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