Every time we visit Phoenix, Mike's hometown, when we drive on Camelback Road, he asks himself, "Is Duck and Decanter still there?" Then he'll glance over as we drive past it and say "Yep, still in the same spot." He'll then rave about one the best turkey sandwiches he's ever had (next to "The Dough Boy" he used to order at Markraff Pharmacy). He has been going to D&D since he was about five years old.
Duck and Decanter is nestled in the back of a shopping center that has a Starbucks and McDonald's and has been around for 36 years. Wow!
Just recently on our last trip to Phoenix, he decided that we grab a light takeout lunch from there as opposed to our usual choice, Miracle Mile Deli, for a delicious heavy pastrami reuben sandwich and french fries (blog entry to come).
As we drove up and parked, it was very nostalgic for Mike as he described to me that there used to be a nursery adjacent to the restaurant, creating a "park like ambiance" (also described in the history on their website). There's now a parking structure next to it and some office buildings, I believe. From the outside, Duck and Decanter looks like a little cottage with tables & umbrellas all around. It was a sweltering 110 degrees so patrons were inside hiding from the dry heat. The "mist" sprinklers were on.
Inside, there are small aisles of merchandise to purchase gift baskets, fine cheeses & food products, tea, trinkets, and gift ware. After entering, to the right, there's a deli counter where the delicious sandwiches are created.
Near the entrance/exit, there's a wine section and what it looks like a tasting bar. Pretty darn cool. Upstairs, yep, there's an upstairs section, there are multiple tables & chairs for guests to eat. The restaurant reminded me a little bit of the bookstore at Seaport Village, but way less crowded and certainly not full of tourists.
The answer is yes. Yes, I knew what I was going to order before we even got there. I ordered the creamy garlic chicken salad on toasted sourdough with lettuce and tomatoes, no cheese, and no extra sauce. My simple goodness. Mike ordered his usual to re-live the past - turkey, swiss cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato on a kaiser roll. For Linda, we ordered a turkey "pocket" which came with shredded swiss, their famous coleslaw, and pine nuts. We even got the iced tea of the day - mango. Mmm.
As we were waiting for our order, one of the staff members (I think she was the manager) saw me taking pictures and Mike said to her, "Oh, we're just taking pictures." She responded with a huge smile and said, "Take all the pictures you want!" Mike mentioned that he used to come here as a kid. She was happy to have a guest like him visit after being away from Phoenix for a long time. She was sweet. Because of her warmth, I would want to eat here all the time if we lived in Arizona.
I love paper bags, especially food inside paper bags. They took our orders down on flat brown paper bags and this is how they package the sandwich goodness.
Opening the D&D package was like opening two birthday presents. The paper bag is one, and then the sandwich wrapped in crispy white parchment paper is the other. Oh yeah, none of that Styrofoam packaging, foil or plastic wrap wrapping. It was good ol' parchment paper.
First bite of my chicken salad sandwich had a crunch, which I love. The crunch of the toasted sourdough, romaine lettuce, and surprise --- there are chunks of water chestnuts in my chicken salad! The addition of them gave the sandwich a wonderful texture! I love water chestnuts, but growing up I used to hate them because my mom chopped them up and put them into her lumpia. I discovered an opened can of them next to her ingredients. I never gave them a chance and I assumed they tasted gross. But, that was then, this is now... and I love them.
I seriously thought the crunch in the chicken salad were chopped apples, but nope, there was no sweetness, unless I am wrong. I could definitely taste the garlic, but definitely was not overpowering or "spicy". I can say that this is the best chicken salad that I have ever had. Of course, I had to have a bag of lightly salted Kettle chips to go with my sandwich. The mango tea was perfect and quite refreshing with the heat and all.
Mike's sandwich was also simple and tasted great too. The kaiser buns here are different from the kaiser buns from Miracle Mile, but it was still light & fluffy. It tasted fresh.
I tried Linda's turkey pocket, and man, it was yummy. You know why? It's that cole slaw they stuff in there. In the picture, it's covered with all that delicious cheese but it was in there. Cole slaw/cabbage is another favorite thing I love. It's the crunch - and it's gotta have crunch factor in order to be good cole slaw. Duck & Decanter's take on slaw had the crunch and the flavor. Duh-licious.
Did I mention that they put the dill pickle spears and put them in little Ziploc type plastic bags? Not sustainable, but I can understand why they do it. The lady who rang up our order said that we can take extra pickles if we would like. There was a bunch of them sitting in a chilled container next to the register. We took some, not knowing that there were also three in our brown paper bags. That was nice of her though!
D&D is a cute little place. I'm glad that Mike suggested this to us one hot afternoon. It was nice to see how reminiscent he was and that he was glad that after all the years, it was still there in that location.
Din Tai Fung – La Jolla, CA
5 days ago