Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Celebration Restaurant

Although Celebration Restaurant has been a Dallas institution for almost 40 years, they made the news most recently as they were reportedly shut down by the City of Dallas for holding a neighborhood farmers’ market without the required permit.

I had not been to Celebration for many years, and at least since I’d turned vegan. I remembered the place as a meat-and-potatoes, homestyle-type, southern American restaurant where we would go for large gatherings. With all this hubbub about them holding a farmers’ market, I decided to do some investigation to see if there were any decent options for us vegans.

It appeared as if there might actually be some good vegan items, since according to the restaurant’s mission statement, Celebration is “striv[ing] to become a leader in the Dallas environmental movement by supporting local farmers and vendors by taking conscious measures to reduce our carbon footprint.” Among those measures, they claim to use local ingredients whenever possible.

Celebration is also holding a “Dinner with Dialogue” on the second Monday of each month. On November 9, for example, Pamela Walker, author of Growing Good Food to Eat in Texas is scheduled to speak about sustainable agricultural practices, and also Michael and Debbie Sams of Full Quiver Farms and Dairy.

Given the promise of potential vegan options, I made a reservation for 13 people, and we were fortunate enough to snag one of the private rooms that I remember so fondly. The place itself is a stone building and it’s got a very camp feel. The menu features mostly meat items with only 2 vegan options: spaghetti and a vegetable plate, which was a little disappointing.

The lack of selection in entrees is made up by the fact that they are served with your choice of soup or salad, and you can order free “seconds” (and thirds, and fourths, in our case). The Light Basil Vinaigrette with Garden Salad and Fresh Vegetable Soup are both vegan, and we ordered both:

The vegetable soup had a slight metallic taste, although it was chock full of veggies. The salad was a hit-even without the croutons, which we did not verify whether they were vegan.

For entrees, we chose the spaghetti and marinara, since we could order it with our choice of veggies, and, as you can see, it was nothing fancy:

The veggies available on our visit included spinach, broccoli, new potatoes, local acorn squash and okra. We were told that the vegetables are typically steamed with light seasoning and olive oil, but you should probably check for specifics upon your visit.

Since we ordered them steamed, they were very simple. You could probably request that they be sautéed, if you prefer.

Overall, I enjoyed the simplicity of our meal and the selection of veggies, including local ones. But, I didn’t feel like the restaurant has yet fully realized their goal of being a “leader in the local environmental movement.” Most on-menu items contained one of our typical plot spoilers, which here included some type of meat or dairy. Vegan options could have been more clearly delineated on the menu, which still proved to be a bit confusing for us and our server, despite my advance preparation. In my opinion, being a leader in the local environmental movement would necessarily include a greater focus on vegan options. I hope to see the menu here continue to evolve to meet this goal.

Celebration Restaurant, Catering, & Market
4503 W. Lovers Lane
Dallas, Texas 75206

1 comment:

Kamaile said...

I haven't eaten there in about 12 years and used to love going there. What a great location. It's too bad they don't have more vegan options. That soup and entree don't look very good. Hopefully they will take note and make some changes.