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Durant's: The post I never thought I would write (PHX)

Seth Chadwick Dec 25, 2007 03:28 PM

When someone asks me what the quintessential restaurant in Phoenix would be, I steer them towards Durant's.

Durant's opened in 1950 and has been a rock solid choice for an old school steakhouse complete with red velvet wallpaper, tuxedo clad servers, classic martinis and an excellent menu that featured wonderful steaks and chops. Durant's was the place for the "three martini lunch" and who knows how many business deals have been closed at the little pink building at the corner of Central Avenue and Virginia in Phoenix.

Was Durant's the best restaurant in Phoenix? No, but it was a wonderful experience and a good meal. You knew that the menu was going to be the same with no surprises and its selection of chops and steaks was pure comfort food. In fact, it was someplace you could rely on for consistency.

For the past 25 or so years, I and my family and/or friends have religiously gone to Durant's for dinner on Christmas Eve. It was always something to look forward to and we would make our reservations in August to ensure we had a table.

Last night, four of us walked into Durant's for a meal and left sadly disappointed.

Apparently, two months ago, a new Executive Chef was hired at Durant's and he or she clearly wanted to make changes. Unfortunately, I am at a loss as to understand what the new EC is shooting for.

We first noticed that the prices had skyrocketed since our last visit earlier this year. I am not talking about a dollar or two, but a $16 chicken entree was now $22.50. The filet mignon was now a whopping $40, and I was in complete shock when our server told us that the special of a small filet with three (3) Gulf shrimp would set us back an astounding $48 and change.

Then, there was the debacle of the Chicken Cordon Blue. In the past, this dish was fairly classic with a boneless pounded chicken breast, ham, cheese and a light mushroom sauce served with a choice of potato. Sometimes, there would be a bit of license with bacon substituting for the ham, but it was a hearty, solid dish.

Now, under the new EC, the Chicken Cordon Blue is two small pieces of bone-in chicken wrapped in prosciutto. No cheese, no sauce, just chicken nuggets with bone wrapped in Italian ham.

Our server let it slip that when the new EC came aboard, he or she decided to scrap the "Durant's bread," a heavenly round loaf of soft, salty bread covered with butter, garlic and minced leeks. Our server said so many people called to complain that the owner added it back in order to keep the torches and pitchforks from arriving at the front door.

The dessert menu was also redone with one of the most popular desserts (the Brownie Sunday) was scrapped in favor of "Chocolate Indulgence Cake." We tried some of the desserts and found them less than stellar.

After our meal, I spoke to our server and said that I failed to understand why Durant's had fiddled with the menu. I said I was, for the first time, disappointed in my meal at Durant's. Our server indicated that I was not alone in my thoughts and encouraged me to send a letter to the owner expressing my disappointment.

One of my guests said it best when he said, "Change for the sake of change doesn't mean something good is going to come out of it." Bingo! For 50+ years, Durant's was the epitome of a consistent restaurant with a consistent menu. They had built up a following and now that formula seems to be monkeyed with for the sake of the new EC.

As we drove home, I wondered allowed if I would be spending another Christmas Eve at Durant's. I will write my letter to the owner and see what the response is, but for right now, I am already making plans for someplace else to dine.

-----
Durant's
2611 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004

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  1. silverbear Dec 25, 2007 07:32 PM

    I remember back around 1993 or 1994 something similar happened to Durant's. The restaurant was going to redefine itself with a new menu and a new direction. I remember going there with a large group for one last celebration of the old Durant's. It turns out that our last supper at the old Durant's was unnecessary, although certainly enjoyable. Within a few months, Durant's was the same as it ever was. My guess and hope is that something similar will happen in 2008. A few new entrees showcasing a chef's personal touch are certainly welcome, but there's no need to tinker with the classics already on the menu. As for the prices, some increase over time is inevitable due to rising costs, but the increases I see on the Web site menu are dramatic and probably should have been phased in much more gradually.

    1. susancinsf Dec 25, 2007 07:41 PM

      I certainly join Silverbear in his hope that this too will pass. Sigh. I feel your pain. even the title of your post made me sad: I just knew it couldn't be good news. Let's hope the new year sees a change back for the better!

      Do report back on any response you get to your letter..

      1. Bill Hunt Dec 26, 2007 06:18 PM

        Seth,

        You just broke my heart (again)! I am sorry to hear that Durant's has fallen prey to the "Steakhouse Craze," and jumped into the deep end, with both feet.

        This will be a big blow to my wife, as she's one of those "deal-makers," who has lunch, w/o the 3 Martinits. We usually do it about 3x per year, and have been more than satisfied for almost 10 years now.

        As for prices, I suspect that some bean-counter, who has a flashy MBA, but no restaurant savvy worked the prices. Heck, I still recall drinking the last bottle of the '96 Ch. St. Jean Cinq Cepages @ $55/btl., even after it received Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year. I saw that wine jump from ~ $75 to $450/btl. at some other steakhouses. The reason was, "because we can get it." That now sounds like the plan for Durant's.

        Sorry to hear that an "old friend" has gone so far downhill. Your guest is correct, "change for the sake of change," is not a good thing. Guess it'll be Capital Grille in the future, for us, with a tear in our eyes.

        Hunt

        1. ValleyFever Jan 8, 2008 08:56 AM

          i just checked out the menu. Its funny, really only the steaks jumped drastically in price. The prime rib and seafood saw a much smaller increase if any at all. I dare to say the prime rib is the same price. That is what i always order, so I will definitely be back.

          6 Replies
          1. re: ValleyFever
            silverbear Jan 8, 2008 09:01 AM

            My favorite, the crab cakes, have jumped substantially in price, but I'll wait until my next visit to assess if Durant's is still a good value.

            1. re: ValleyFever
              Bill Hunt Jan 11, 2008 05:05 PM

              Prime Rib - I do not think that I have ever ordered this, except at various funcitons from the Country Club to, fill-in-the-blank dinners for various charity organizations, and then, only when it was the only beef offered. Does/did Durant's have a good take on this popular, but often fatty dish?

              Still, Seth breaks my heart. My wife has not commented yet, and she does lunch there on a regular basis. Maybe she's been in the air, more than on the ground, or has not been, since the change. I'm waiting for her report. Don't know that she'd comment on the price, that much, but if the quality and the service are out of whack - well, watch out!

              Hunt

              1. re: Bill Hunt
                Seth Chadwick Jan 11, 2008 05:44 PM

                As I said, there were a number of us there and all of us were not pleased with the changes. While I will concede that the Prime Rib may still be the same price, certainly the filet was not, nor was the Chicken Cordon Bleu ($16.00 to $22.50), and, from what sb stated, the Crab Cakes jumped up as well.

                I think it is also important to point out that my concerns were about the price point increase and the changes in the menu. While our meals themselves were good (save the Chicken C.B.), I was scratching my head trying to find the justification for a -roughly- 25-30% increase in price. And, we went with expectations of the Durant's menu we had come to know and love for the past 27 years.

                Other people may like the changes and don't mind the hefty price increases. But we specifically when to Durant's on Christmas Eve because it was reliable comfort food.

                I am sure I was not alone in wanting that.

                1. re: Bill Hunt
                  ValleyFever Jan 11, 2008 06:50 PM

                  Their Prime Rib is no different than any other place (and by that, i mean any other decent steakhouse). I just really like prime rib. It is a little fattier than say the porterhouse, but it is all on the outside of the steak and just adds flavor. Plus Durant's and Cork N Cleaver have perfected it my opinion. I also like cuts of meat where there is some fat in thin strips. I just like to thing of it as EXTREME KOBE!!! So my opinion may be worthless when it comes to red meat. (btw, the extreme kobe part is a joke.)

                  Even great food can't save bad service though. I worked my way through college waiting tables, so I have a respect for servers, but also know what to expect out of them (as I am sure most of you do too.)

                  Honestly though, I haven't been since last year this time. I am going tomorrow night for my Birthday. Its tradition, I guess kinda like it was for Seth and the holidays. My gf's family is really opinionated, so I am sure I will get the group consensus on the changes made. They are an old AZ family that hates changes. Should be fun.

                  1. re: ValleyFever
                    Bill Hunt Jan 11, 2008 07:21 PM

                    Now, we will expect a detailed report, even though you are with guests. To think that Durant's has changed, so drastically, is something that most AZ CH's hate to face.

                    I hope that your birthday celebration is a great one, and maybe we've all expected too much, for too long.

                    Regardless, happy birthday,
                    Hunt

                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                      ValleyFever Jan 21, 2008 08:53 AM

                      So I found Durant's to me just as good as it was the last time I was there about a year ago. The prices may have gone up a tad, but all of our steaks were primo. We started with 2 Shrimp CocktaiIs, which you can't really mess up, but they excel at because they use atomic horseradish. For the meal, I had the Veal Porterhouse (41.50), my gf had the petite filet (40.50), her dad had the larger filet (49.95), and her mom had the bone-in rib eye (35.95). All were cooked to our specifications and we thoroughly enjoyed them. We had a couple bottles of Seghesio Zinfandel, which were moderately priced at $36 (retails at around 20.00, or 16.99 at Costco). For dessert, they ordered the trey of creme brulee which they really enjoyed. I got a grasshopper, which I do every time I am there because they make it with ice cream. soooooo good.

                      They had a good crowd, but I service didn't reflect that at all. We we always kept with full glasses of water and checked on routinely. I don't mind paying a little more to keep a place like that alive. Besides, it is no more expensive then what you would pay for at a premium steakhouse that serves the same quality steak served by snooty servers in a pretentious atmosphere. I for one won't hesitate to return.

              2. winedubar Jan 8, 2008 09:13 AM

                that just breaks my heart. it makes me wonder what was management thinking..no one goes to durants to try some artiste of a chef's take on deconstructed classics. one goes to durants FOR the classics, and the whole schtick - the relish tray, the wallpaper, the banquettes, the whole deal!!!! that someone would even think it OK to get rid of the garlicky buttery fantastic bread is ridiculous!!!!!!

                bring back old durants!!

                1. mamamia Jan 21, 2008 11:55 AM

                  Mr. Mamamia was just there on Friday night. He reports that things are as great as ever, and yes, he did gobble up the yummy complimentary garlic bread.

                  1. g
                    GeantDogue Jan 23, 2008 05:49 PM

                    No No - Say it ain't so!
                    Durant's has been an institution for my wife and I for a long long time. A few times each year we look forward to enjoying a late lunch at Durant’s, ordering a couple of their fine New Yorks from the dinner menu. Of course, of no less importance is a "few" of their ample Martinis from the well to accompany the crabs and of course the famous garlic bread.
                    This all started when, in anticipation of our upcoming visit to Binkley's, I stumbled on Seth Chadwick's incredibly thorough review of that establishment. Then hoping that Seth could help us with further dining experiences in the Phoenix area I came face to face with this dismal review. What a shock!
                    Of course, I always appreciate a good deal in dining, but I can accept the price escalation - I've paid more for lesser steaks served without Durant’s ambiance. But lunch without the absolutely unique and delicious garlic bread ! - What were they thinking?
                    Well, we'll be back in a couple of weeks to check it all out for ourselves, but I have a premonition that some genius EC will have replaced those fantastic floral arrangements with plastic roses and the sweet potato fries with jicama - and worst of all a Martini will now be limited to one jigger. Old Jack Durant must be spinning in his grave!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: GeantDogue
                      Seth Chadwick Jan 23, 2008 07:32 PM

                      GD,

                      Just as a point of clarification, they did bring back the bread after complaints, so I give them credit for listening to their customer base.

                      I will reiterate again, however, that the issue for us was menu changes and price increases which may bother some and not others, but certainly I hope that we could all agree that bone-in chicken pieces wrapped in prosciutto is a big stretch in being called "Chicken Cordon Bleu."

                      But, that is what I really love about Chowhound is that we get a big mixture of opinions so that people can add them up and come to their own conclusions.

                      1. re: Seth Chadwick
                        silverbear Jan 23, 2008 07:56 PM

                        Did you ever receive a reply to your letter, and was your letter an actual printed document or an email? I'm interested in hearing how the restaurant handled a complaint from a loyal customer.

                        1. re: silverbear
                          Seth Chadwick Jan 23, 2008 10:05 PM

                          Nothing as of yet. I sent the letter right after the first of the year. I will give it another week or so and resend.

                          1. re: Seth Chadwick
                            l
                            Lala0310 Apr 3, 2008 08:02 PM

                            I thought I check and see if their is any update on this... Seth, did you ever get a response? Has anyone been there recently?

                            1. re: Lala0310
                              Seth Chadwick Apr 3, 2008 08:26 PM

                              No, I never received a response to my letter. My friends who work near there were going to check it out for lunch this month and see if there were any changes during that service. If I hear anything, I will definitely report back.

                              1. re: Seth Chadwick
                                l
                                Lala0310 Apr 3, 2008 10:09 PM

                                Wow, I am surprised that you didn't get a response. I guess that really says it all. For me it wouldn't really matter if things have changed back "again" for the better, no response equates to no respect for the customer. If they don't care, what's the point. Such a bummer. To give you an idea of how loyal my family is to Durant's, my boyfriend's dad was given a numbered tab card by Jack Durant. His is number 1 or 2, I think. There is also a free dessert poker chip floating around the house as well. Something to do with a customer appreciation night or ???, can't remember it was awhile ago that we got this. Anyhow, sad to see this sort of thing happen. Let us know how and if the lunch went.

                    2. silverbear May 4, 2008 03:34 PM

                      Last night, I finally made it back to Durant's for the first time since Seth's Christmas Day lament. I definitely noticed some changes, but happily nothing to make me stop eating at Durant's or cease recommending it to others.

                      The new executive chef is still making his presence known. He came out and stopped at several tables to introduce himself and chat with customers. Perhaps he'd heard about some of the backlash from regulars and is trying to listen to customers. In any case, I was impressed with his demeanor.

                      I've never had the Chicken Cordon Bleu, so I can't comment on that dish. My wife and I usually stick to seafood, side dishes, and a decadent dessert when eating at Durant's. We ordered crab cakes and a halibut special and shared both dishes. Both were excellent, and the plate presentations are more attractive than they were a year ago. Normally, I don't care much how food is presented, but when I'm paying $32 for crab cakes, aesthetics begin to make a difference.

                      The only disappointment was that my favorite side dish, sauteed spinach with fennel, has been replaced with creamed spinach, a dish I find less interesting and too heavy to be an effective counterpoint to the meaty, rich main dishes at Durant's. We substituted sauteed broccolini, which was nice, although lacking the same punch as the spinach with fennel.

                      For dessert, we had the strawberry shortcake for two, which used to a delicious mess. Now, it's still delicious and artfully presented on a long plate with the cake slices lined up with plenty of strawberries, whipped cream, and chocolate shaving adorning them.

                      Sure, there have been changes, and maybe the Chicken Cordon Bleu has been wrecked, but for me, it still felt like the classic Durant's -- albeit with higher prices. The changes that have been made are subtle for the most part and far less a departure from the classic formula than the mid-'90s episode I mentioned above.

                      As for the prices, those are noticeably higher, and it probably would have been better for Durant's to raise prices gradually over the years rather than raising them dramatically after several years of stability. Then again, food prices are going up across the board, and I think we're all going to see bigger checks at our favorite places in the near future.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: silverbear
                        Seth Chadwick May 4, 2008 05:20 PM

                        Thanks for the update, sb. I do know that Durant's has been taking a backlash and it does give me hope that the new EC is going to listen and take the feedback to heart. Durant's went through this similar type of thing many years ago, so hopefully it will get back on track. I will try it again in the near future.

                        I do agree wholeheartedly that they should have increased prices over time instead of one jarring hit.

                        Again, thanks for posting this.

                        1. re: silverbear
                          l
                          Lala0310 May 5, 2008 06:20 AM

                          Thanks for the update! I am glad to hear that you enjoyed yourselves and the food was excellent. My SO will be pleased to hear this, maybe I can get him to go for his birthday, June 2.

                          Again, thanks for the review.

                          1. re: silverbear
                            b
                            Beach Chick May 5, 2008 07:01 AM

                            Thanks silverbear for the report on our beloved Durant's..

                          2. Bill Hunt Aug 5, 2008 07:56 PM

                            Well Seth,

                            I'm now with you. We did a theater preview, so we hit Durant's later than normal. It was about 1/8 to 1/4 full, on a Saturday night in August. We had grazed at an event before the theater, so no one was staving.

                            I looked at the menus, and the prices were up, just as you observed. We did a Randy Dunn Howell Mtn. Cab and found that my chosen vintage was no more. That is what one should expect with wines on the "rare and limited" list. The substitute was a few years younger, but decanted was nice. Wine service was as good, as always, though not up to par with the prices. Oh well.

                            Everyone went salad, except for me. The beef & barley soup sounded good, and was. I had the petite-filet at around $40. Wife got one of her favs., the coconut shrimp. The steak was good, but I had just had a Kobe in California that blew it totally away, and it was $60, but easily half again as large. I'd say that Durant's was about 8 oz, per the menu, while the Kobe was easlily 14 oz and oh, so much better. That was $ well-spent for me. The garlic mashed were OK, but Mark Tarbell does a much better version. Now, the shrimp were up near the top - large, but tender. The coconut might have had a sweetening agent in it, but was crisp. I'd have used un-sweetened coconut, especially with the sweet-tangy dipping sauce. Still, with only the sligltly too sweet coconut aside, they were very, very good. Do not recall the price, but I'd say they were worth every $.

                            No one was up for dessert, so we bid farwell and headed up into the hills. A good meal, but things were missing.

                            The flatware needs to be updated in a big way. The utensiles do not feel comfortable in the hand, and are not really comfortable to use. They also look like something that my mother would use for a picnic, in case we lost a few. I had never noticed these before. Where was I looking? The wine glasses were good, but I've come to expect something better, when one is spending $185/bottle on the wine, plus a few b-t-g selections. The plating was OK (wife's shrimp was the most attractive), but seemed an afterthought - get the food on a plate and get it out. The U-shaped booth was now uncomfortable. The seating was too close, and with four of us, plus the wine glasses, there was no room on the table for anything. We had to give up our bread plates, and everything that was not tied down, just to fit my wife's shrimp. How come these things never registered with me before?

                            The staff and the service were as friendly as always, and the walk through the kitchen was like a family reunion. All was OK, with some high points, but not enough to fill the void, left by the prices.

                            Had this been our first visit, I'm really not sure that we'd be back, anytime soon. Maybe your review was ringing in my ears, but this was 9 mos. later afterall.

                            I feel for Durant's, as I do not see them staying around, after all those wonderful years. As it is, we will be back, but I think I'm likely to be even more critical on the next visit.

                            Hunt

                            1. ejs1492 Aug 5, 2008 08:18 PM

                              This makes me really sad. I was having lunch with my dad today, and we were talking about Carmine's, in Manhattan, and how it is "the real deal" and has withstood the test of time. I said, "Duran'ts is the closest we have to that." Everything here is new. Very little has history. (Note: I didn't say NOTHING....Monte's has been around forever too but I don't think the food is good.) The thought of not being able to take my kids to Durant's is sad to me; it's an institution.

                              They need to get their act together.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ejs1492
                                TonyO Aug 14, 2008 09:05 PM

                                Although I have never been to Durant's, the posts have given me some great visuals. Additionally, the reference to Carmine's in NYC is a good one (I have been there). There is something to be said about classic restaurants that hold tradition in high regard and give the next generation a place to carry on family memories. Here in Vermont, a once great steakhouse, The Sirloin Saloon, just ended a 45 year run by closing their doors. Granted, the last 5 years or so haven't been great at this place, but I was there the last night it was open and many people were quite emotional. Sometimes, it is about the bigger picture: ambiance, service, food, memories, with the sum of the parts being much greater than each on their own. I can still remember meals out with family as a child (even what I ordered as a youth under 10 years of age). Dining out was a special event. Today, dining was been replace by eating. I don't think too many family memories are taking place in Olive Garden's and Outback's across our great nation.................

                              2. tastyjon Aug 7, 2008 12:31 AM

                                One of my best friends in the world loves this place, so I've always been eager to go. I've been by it, next to it, around it, but have yet to try. Part of me wants to wait for a special occasion. Or at least an occasion where my boss in NY is in town and will throw down the AMEX card, or my crazy uncle from Canada who struck gold (but with oil). But otherwsie, I've been keeping it in the pocket as far as a place to check out, if only for a cocktail or two in the bar.

                                After reading this discussion and browsing the menu, it would seem they are catering to the expense account crowd. And the money-is-no object crowd. And that's fine and a legit business strategy. But I don't think I'll be going there soon.

                                If liver & onions run $23+, and a side of veggies are $9, I have to think that the eatery has ceased being a place to enjoy food and more a place to be seen, do deals, etc. They might still make good food, but it's no longer the focus. I'm all for places making a profit on a good dish served, but L&O costs them $3 or so. There's no good reason that dishes like basic chicken or crab cakes should be in the $25-30 range.

                                Unless, of course, they are catering to the lawyers and biz dealers who will simply expense it.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: tastyjon
                                  Bill Hunt Aug 13, 2008 09:22 PM

                                  I wonder about their timing on this. Considering that the economy has taken a bit of a turn (sorting out?), that there has been an exponential proliferation of high-end steak houses, and that Downtown is not quite the happening place that it was considered just 9 mos. back, I would question their move.

                                  In the past, the food has been very good, though never something that I'd wax poetic about. The atmosphere is cluby, but is that what the market is looking for nowadays. Yes, it IS a tradition, and I respect that, but is it heading in the right direction?

                                  Hunt

                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                    Seth Chadwick Aug 13, 2008 11:53 PM

                                    I have always been dumbfounded by those that tinker with success. Durant's is (was) a legend. Jack Durant took a small building with a killer business model and created a quintessential restaurant in a cowpoke town that ended up blossoming to become the 5th largest city in the U.S. What was so deplorable about the tradition, success and quality at upper mid-range pricing that lured in people from all walks of life?

                                    I remember just a year or so ago when someone said that Welcome Diner (which was a popular board favorite) announced they were going to change the menu, there was a deer-in-the-headlights look from everyone. Why change a winning hand?

                                    I remember writing a similar exchange to this because it wraps up everything:

                                    Customer: You must be proud of how successful your restaurant is. Everyone loves the food. I love your X and your Y. Your menu is the best!.

                                    Owner: Great! Wait until you see all the new changes we are adding to the menu!

                                    /cue crickets

                                    1. re: Seth Chadwick
                                      a
                                      APPLJim Nov 23, 2010 08:37 PM

                                      Seth,
                                      I know this is an old, stale thread, but I'm wondering if you have revisited Durant's since your last writing. Particularily since early summer this year. The executive chef they brought in about 2007 (although I liked some of his ideas) was run out about 6 months ago, and an old EC (Ken) has returned. Much of the "classic" menu is unchanged, but the prices are definitely on the increase.

                                      Wondering if you would be inclined to reverse some of the "doom-and-gloom" of 2007...

                                      APPLJim

                                      1. re: APPLJim
                                        Seth Chadwick Nov 24, 2010 07:58 PM

                                        Jim,

                                        I have plans to return in the near future and will report back then.

                                  2. re: tastyjon
                                    silverbear Aug 14, 2008 06:33 AM

                                    This thread has recently been revived, but it's not clear from the most recent comments if any of the skeptics aside from Hunt have been to Durant's since Seth's Christmas 2007 experience.

                                    I've been more recently, and found the Durant's experience as good as ever, albeit with higher prices. Let's keep in mind, however, that food prices have gone up across the board. It may have been a tactical mistake to have one big price jump instead of smaller jumps on a year basis, but expecting price stability in today's economic climate is not realistic.

                                    My suggestion: Let's stop the pile-on until we have more reports of actual recent meals at Durant's. I accept Seth's and Bill's experiences for what they are, but some of the other complaints seem based more on speculation than actual experiences.

                                    1. re: silverbear
                                      Bill Hunt Aug 14, 2008 08:31 PM

                                      Silverbear,

                                      You make a very good point. First, I'm not that much of a "steakhouse" guy. I can do them, when pressed, but just do not seek them out. In general, we usually only do them, when we're at a meeting and the event ends up at one. When faced with the decision on where to dine, we'll go way down the list, before a steakhouse comes up.

                                      That said, Durant's has always held a sweet spot in my heart. It is funky, the food has always been good to very good, and their wine list has always worked well. Back when the Ch. St Jean Cinq Cepages (96?) got wine of the year from "Wine Spectator," I was drinking all that Durant's had at $55/btl. One steakhouse in Denver had bumped their price up to $450/btl. I knew the sommelier from a previous restaurant and asked about this price. His response was "because we can get it." I drank the last bottle of this wine at Durant's and the price had not escalated $1.00. Besides, Jack Durant had Bulldogs, and loved them dearly. This scores points with me.

                                      Maybe I was suddenly observing things that had passed cognition before. This was possibly based on Seth's review, or maybe I was just more observant, than in the past.

                                      I tried to not grade them down, but had just done a steakhouse in Carlsbad, CA, Argyle, where the Wagyu tenderloin (for just a few $ more) made my all-time top 10. The Durant's beef was OK, but I'd had better for much less. Again, the sides were OK, but nothing to get me worked up about.

                                      I think that I felt much as Seth did. I hated to type the words, and tried to be as objective, as I could be. Still, there was dissapointment. We'll be back, because this was the first "real" Phoenix steakhouse, that we dined at, when we moved to the Valley of the Sun. My wife still hosts lunches there, because the food is "good," and the proximity works fine for her. I still feel like an old friend has move far away.

                                      I'd guess that it'll be some years, before we end up at some of the new steakhouses. Like I said, we do not seek these out. I have still managed to NOT go to any Morton's in PHX, and am proud of this. The Valley is blessed with too many really good restaurants for me to go to an "adult McDonalds." Along those lines, I feel I have the right to be critical of such places, as all visits to a Morton's have been on someone else's expense account, and I was usually asked to pick all of the wines, sparing no expense. I still have never had a good meal at a Morton's, even though they were free, to me.

                                      Hunt

                                      1. re: silverbear
                                        f
                                        fledflew Aug 16, 2008 02:33 PM

                                        I've eaten at Durants about 8 times over the past year and have drinks there probably twice a month. The price jump was sudden and significant - I used to dine there even more often, but the budget no longer allows. Some of the menu items seem absurdly expensive, while others are in line. The service over the past year or so has ranged from good to exceptional. The staff has remained pretty consistent, although my favorite server Denise left about a year and a half ago. Last month when I dined there, I had the filet ($40), oscar style (add $17) - medium rare. When the entree arrived, the filet was med-well, pushing well done. I brought it to the attention of the server and it was quickly remedied. Besides the temporary replacement of the garlic bread about 8-9 months ago, this was the only time I've ever had an issue with the food. Dinner for two that night included the seafood sampler appetizer, 2 entrees, 2 deserts, 2 martinis, 4 glasses of wine, and a grand marnier and ran $225, before tip. Not cheap, but not more than I would spend in any other good steakhouse. We were there over three hours and never felt rushed.

                                        When I was having drinks last week, the bartender handed me an appetizer menu. There were about a dozen items. Half of them were off the regular menu and the other half were new items only available at the bar. Items included satay skewers, sliders (fliet, I think), and 3 or 4 others things I can't recall right now. Nothing special, although some of them (satay skewers) seemed a little out of place on the menu. Price was about 10-15 dollars per item. I didn't try any of them, as I had other plans for dinner.

                                        1. re: fledflew
                                          misohungrychewlow Aug 16, 2008 11:52 PM

                                          Okay, after tipping: $275 for the dinner you described -- at Durant's -- is at least $75-100 too much, unless they have ramped up the quality of their ingredients to match the top prime competition ... sigh ... I miss Durant's ... the real Durant's.

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                                      AguasFrescas Jan 26, 2009 07:57 PM

                                      My girlfriends and I don't have the appetites for full entrees so we go for debris and appetizers. During our visit in October, our waiter Cooper, recommended less expensive wines and mentioned that he was trying to bring in lower priced selections. Given the events of that month, we all felt that was a good plan. We tried two inexpensive cabs and really enjoyed them. I do remember the bread was already back but not much else, but everything added up for another memorable dinner there.

                                      We went again this past Friday night and it was as busy as ever. The debris wasn't as yummy as it can be but we got distracted by the heavenly new side. It's crab mac and cheese which might be too simple for some but we loved it. Cooper was our waiter again and this time we tried a Pinot Noir. My head didn't care for it later but that's how it goes. We had a great time again.

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                                        f3rrar1 Feb 15, 2009 06:48 PM

                                        I've been twice the past two months for lunch and I had a burger and the French dip. Both were fantastic. Service was great and it was packed. Being a burger head and working downtown I would rate Durants as having the best burger to date. My tastes vary from Athenia, Delux, Original Hamburger works, AJ's parking lot, Majrle's, BOB, Wine Burger, Two hippies. Welcome dinner would be my #2.

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                                          sharjk Jan 24, 2013 08:39 AM

                                          we were there yesterday for my birthday do go there too often caus simply i cant afford it --but i used to get their fresh cut fries - they were great - got em for lunch yesterday UCK in order to save money they are now frozen otta a bag fries --
                                          LEARNED A LESSON!!!!
                                          we always loved the place but they are apparently going down hill---buying cheaper product!!

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