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Fort Worth Date Night: You had me at “chicken-fried steak!” (FW Business Press)

BY MIKE BLOOMBERG
September 25, 2009

On a recent birthday celebration with my “random” group of friends from high school, I learned that friends should never be taken for granted. In the same lightbulb moment, it also struck me that food also should not be taken for granted. Like an old college entrance exam question, can I now deduce that food is equal to a friend? I’ve always known that food is my friend. And, in sad or down times, perhaps, even my best friend.

In my world, there is no better comfort food than anything fried. The State Fair of Texas is nearing and much of the media focus is on the fried offerings from the Fair. Mouth-watering selections such as fried Snickers, fried peanut butter and jelly and this year’s all abuzz about fried butter. My first thought was, “Yech!” That is, until I saw it being made on a morning show. Now, my opinion has changed. I’m actually looking forward to trying that artery-blocking concoction.

But, I’m a little more traditional. I am partial to the good ol’ chicken-fried steak (CFS). Very simply, a steak that is breaded and fried. While I try to watch my girlish figure, every few months I crave chicken-fried steak. Well, my yearning has been yelling at me, as of late. Thank goodness for a friend’s birthday celebration to fill my unanswered prayer.

We recently found ourselves at Grady’s Restaurant (2443 Forest Park Blvd.). Well-known restauranteur and chef, Grady Spear’s, newest eatery. As a lifelong resident of Fort Worth, I was immediately brought back to the days of when Le Chardonnay filled this locale. Even as a youngster, I always loved this space. It was quaint, quiet and the ambiance was soothing. Grady’s has not lost that. On a rainy, stormy night, it was calm, cozy and comfortable.

Upon perusing the menu, could I really have anything else but the chicken-fried steak? C’mon! This is what Grady is known for. Besides, my buddy, Big Dave, was just as excited about the chicken-fried steak as a kid waking up on Christmas morning. We had to do this together. We had to have a male bonding moment and share the CFS experience. Much like two fraternity brothers going through pledgeship together.

So, the CFS arrives and it really was picture-worthy. If the statement that everything is bigger in Texas is true, then, the CFS from Grady’s won’t disappoint. This bad boy is massive. But, forget about the size. What about the taste and quality? I’m going to have to go with two big thumbs up. Wow! Great quality steak, perfectly breaded and topped with a perfect cream gravy. Not to mention, it was all resting comfortably on a bed of green onion mashed potatoes. Big Dave and I left no evidence of our gluttony. For any of you who were Friends watchers, we definitely needed the maternity pants that Joey wore when he bet that he could finish the Thanksgving turkey.

Everyone else loved what they ordered. Some went with entrees and others loaded up on appetizers. If you are looking for a fantastic meal, a romantic setting and an environment that will allow you two to really connect, Grady’s will be the perfect choice. I’m pretty sure the famous foodie, Charlie Trotter, summed up my experience precisely when he said, “All four elements were happening in equal measure – the cuisine, the wine, the service and the overall ambience. It taught me that dining could happen at a spiritual level.”

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