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A steakhouse shrine for 60+ years, Durant's is famous for its dated décor, big, beefy steaks and expertly delivered dining service.

by Donald Downes

Review

Durant’s

2611 N. Central Ave.

Phoenix, AZ

602-264-5967

 

The hours: Lunch, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dinner, Sunday through Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to midnight.

 

The lowdown: Opening in July of 1950, Jack Durant's namesake restaurant was the place to down a few martinis and sup with Phoenix’s movers and shakers, politicos and sports personalities. Today, as in the past, Durant’s still packs in everyday diners and Valley personalities. It’s where to experience beef at its best and expertly delivered dining service. And if you don’t want to be pegged as a newcomer, enter Durant’s through the kitchen door just off the back parking lot.

 

The menu: You'll find everyday dishes enjoyed when TV’s The Ed Sullivan Show was in its heyday — shrimp cocktail, oysters Rockefeller, sautéed chicken livers and calf’s liver with bacon and onions. There are steaks galore and several surf ‘n turf selections. Entrees come with soup, salad, bread, potato choice and veggies du jour.

 

The scene: The dimly lit dining room with charbroiled-scented air sports dark mahogany paneling, tufted burgundy leather banquettes and booths, thick carpeting and red-flocked wall paper. It’s a dining adventure everyone should experience.

 

The damage: Though the dishes may be dated, prices reflect the present and plastic will be dented: appetizers are $4.95 to $20.95 and up; menu entrees start at $13.95 and can go as high as $49.95 for a 48-ounce porterhouse. One night’s 3 1/2-pound lobster fetched $35 per pound.

 

The recommendation: Start a regressive repast relishing the relish tray, a dated pre-meal dish of carrot and celery sticks, radishes and black olives, iced to ensure chilly contents.

Since Durant’s has been dishing dinners (lunches, too) for nearly five decades, it’s a good bet well-prepared food will find your table. Though it’s tough to find fault with Durant’s, I do have a complaint concerning an unclear explanation by waiter about the stone crab claws. The claws, incidentally, arrive regularly from Joe’s Stone Crab in Florida. Waiter presented a plate with nicely displayed claws, six to be exact, on green leaf lettuce. While extolling the colorful claws, he conveyed that an entrée portion was also available. Believing what he was holding was the appetizer portion, with a price tag of $16.50, we ordered the claws without hesitation. What he neglected to mention (but it appeared on the bill) was that the six claws on the plate totaled a pound and the price was $33 — $16.50 per half-pound.

In spite of the price tag, the claws were deliciously sweet and succulent. However, had I known each claw was priced at five bucks plus, I would have ordered less and spent a lot more time with each. The presentation was misleading. 

Entrees come with a soup or salad option, or you can upgrade to a Caesar salad for $1.95. If you’re a Caesar fan, get it. It’s good ‘n garlicky and strewn with house-made croutons, no doubt fashioned from the marvelous, round bread loaves drenched with basil-parsley-garlic butter.
            While the plates of seafood on nearby tables were attractive, I figure when you come to Durant’s you’re looking for meat, a sizable, thick juicy steak that would make your cardiologist faint. The usual cuts are available, even an old-fashioned Delmonico, named for the famed New York eatery. It’s a 20-ounce hunk of beef that’s cooked on the bone to retain the meat’s juicy richness. The grill guy in the kitchen really knows his steak cookery. The flavorful Delmonico arrives not a shade past the ordered medium. He does a superb job with a 14-ounce New York strip steak as well: Same careful cooking and excellent flavor. Go-withs include the veggies du jour, a somewhat standard sautéed melange of zucchini and yellow squash, which are served sans seeds. Spud choices include crispy fries, roasted garlic mashed (not shy on garlic; I like ‘em) or baked.

          If you manage to make it to the dessert course and still have space, sweetly end dinner with crème brûlée or bread pudding.

 

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