Painting the Town Red

For this past Christmas, Allen and Emma gave Bill and me a wonderful gift of two tickets to see The Jersey Boys at the Phoenix Theater Company in downtown Phoenix. The gift was wonderful for a couple of reasons: First, neither Bill nor I had ever seen the play. (Yes, we are those last two people who hadn’t attended a single showing of this wonderful musical gem.) Second, it motivated us to pull up our big girl and boy panties and shorts and venture out of our safe surroundings into downtown Phoenix, a mecca of fun that we have barely dipped a toe into (God bless mixed metaphors!).

The performance was Tuesday, so a week ago yesterday, I began perusing dining spots for us that were near the theater. Since I don’t know downtown very well (well, not at all), I couldn’t begin to guess what kind of area it was and what sorts of eating places were offered in walking distance from the theater (since we planned to take Lyft or Uber).

I searched and searched, and what kept showing up was a restaurant called Durant’s Steakhouse, about a half mile north of the theater. It was advertised as an old-school steak house. I do love me an old-school steakhouse. It particularly touted its desserts and its martinis. Well, something for everyone, or at least something for Bill and me. So I made reservations, and only worried a teeny-tiny bit about the fact that I couldn’t find anything online that showed prices.

That evening, our Lyft driver dropped us off at the valet stand by the door, and drove off. We peeked inside and noticed it was the door to the kitchen. So we waitetd for the valet to return, and asked him how we entered the restaurant.

“Right through this door,” he said with a smile.

Sure enough, in order to get to the restaurant, you had to walk through the kitchen. Now, while that might be a bit baffling to some, I LOVED IT! There is almost nothing I like better than to see a busy restaurant kitchen at work. I love it so much, in fact, that one time when I made reservations for our board of directors to eat at a fancy restaurant in Washington, D.C., I made the choice reservation to eat at the table located right in the kitchen. I don’t know what the board members thought, but Bec (my guest) and I were happy campers of the highest order.

Anyway, Bill and I checked in and were taken to our table. The room, my friends, was large and red. Red, red, red, red. Red damask wall covering, red leather booths. Gleaming chandeliers and sparkling glasses and dishes and flatware. It was lovely to behold, if very red. So red, in fact, that it was impossible to take a photo that didn’t make Bill look, well, red…..

The waiters wore old-school black with long white aprons, and notably, all were in their late 40s or older. We asked our server how long she had worked at Durants, and she said she was one of the newer employees with a tenure of only 16 years.

Durants, according to our server, opened its doors in 1950, and it was mobsters who requested the rear entrance. They didn’t want their enemies to see them come and go. No one looked like a mobster the night we dined.

We started with a little relish plate like you should if a restaurant calls itself Old School. And we finished with a piece of chocolate cake, because how can you call it a dinner out if it doesn’t end in chocolate?

The menu was expensive, no question. The fact that entrees came with soup or salad and a potato made it less painful, and the fact that the place was so much fun, and the food was so delicious, made it a night to remember. This helped…..

And see? Even the martini looks redish.

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