I love the holidays. It is the big celebration in my family. Lots of lights on Mom and Dad’s house. A tree with an obscene amount of gifts surrounding it. Copious amounts of alcohol. And, plenty of food.
Although it isn’t as big a celebration at work, my work unit goes to lunch right before the Christmas holiday and chooses a restaurant for just some good food and laughs and not talking about work. However, my work unit is small. Four people. There is myself, Hanna, Angelica and, my boss, Greta. So, it is always “Ride of the Valkyries” for me.
Since I run a food blog, the others deferred to me to choose a place to celebration. I immediately thought of Delux in East Phoenix. Then, I got timid about my choice since Angelica is this radical vegetarian who would probably hire a couple of her druid henchmen to rough me up in the parking lot where I work. Sure, Angelica looks sweet and innocent, but behind that facade is the mind of a person who would kill her victims with Tofurkey given the chance.
But Angelica took a look at the menu and said she had no problems with Delux. Hanna and Greta agreed, so we made our plans and I suggested that afterwards, we head to Arlecchino’s for some gelato. This all sounded like a grand plan, and we left the office and found our way to 32nd Street and Camelback Road. It was around 11:40 AM or so, but the parking lot was jammed. Due to the Safeway and some of the specialty boutiques, the place was hopping, but we were able to find a spot and walked into Delux.
Since it was drizzling and cold outside, I wasn’t too surprised to see that there wasn’t a soul on the patio enjoying lunch, so I had a bit of a worry that we would have a long wait. Thankfully, we didn’t. We were seated at the table right next to the window.
The menus we were given were quite large, but the majority of the items listed were of an alcohol nature, so we couldn’t imbibe since we were still technically on work hours. But we were there for the eats and we all zeroed in on what we wanted. Our server arrived and took our drink order. Only Angelica and I had Diet Cokes ($2.00 each) while Greta and Hanna stuck with water. Our server fetched our drinks and we debated on how many baskets of fries to get.
When our drinks arrived, we placed our order. Greta and I each had the Delux Burger ($9.00 each), but I had mine Medium and Greta had hers Medium Well. Hanna was craving a salad and went with the Chinese Chicken Salad ($9.00). Angelica decided to go with the Grilled Cheese Panini ($6.00). The fry count was three baskets of mixed (regular and sweet potato) Fries ($6.00 each).
As we sat and talked, I noticed the place filling up and by the time we had another round of waters and sodas, there was a line outside. The interior, although getting noisy and crowded, was still charming with its community table in the center, its blue drapes hanging along the walls and the large mirrors that give the small space a sense of openness.
About 10 minutes passed and our mixed fries arrived. According to the menu, they are served “a la cart” and so they were presented in small shopping carts with the Delux logo and name on the front of them. Each cart had about 8-10 ounces of fries. They were also served with ketchup (which I believe is homemade) and an aioli sauce. The fries were excellent. I particularly enjoyed the sweet potato fries, but the others said both were great. And they were. Of the sauces, I found the aioli to have a nice kick of spice that was exceptionally addictive. In fact, we ordered more of the aioli to spread on our burgers.
We had only polished off about a third of the fries when our meals arrived. The Delux Burger that Greta and I each ordered was a thick, juicy slab of prime ground beef on a demi-baguette, which was soft and perfect for the burger. The burger was topped with Maytag Blue Cheese, Applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onions and arugula. My burger was exceptional. The difference in the quality of the beef from other hamburger places was very apparent. This was top shelf beef. The toppings only made the burger that much better. Greta was quite pleased with her burger as well, saying that she thought it was “really good.”
Hanna’s Chinese Chicken Salad was quite large. In fact, the deep bowl was filled with strips of chicken breast, greens, sliced peppers, cilantro, fried wonton strips and topped with carrot shavings. The dressings were two-fold: one was a tangy honey-lime vinaigrette and the other was a peanut sauce. Hanna said the salad was “fantastic” and “very fresh.” It looked quite appealing from my vantage point. She said that this was a perfect lunch salad, but noted that there was plenty for two meals.
Angelica’s Grilled Cheese Panini was truly a work of art. The presentation of it was absolutely out of this world. The sandwich had been cut into four triangles and each was set on a corner of the plate, separated by tomato slices with a shredded carrot and beet garnish in the center. Angelica said the sandwich was the best grilled cheese she had ever had. She loved the addition of the roasted peppers to the sandwich along with the three cheeses and arugula. “Perfect for a vegetarian,” she said.
We munched on our meals and chatted about holiday plans. We had one cart of fries left over along with a good portion of Hanna’s salad. Hanna decided to take it all home and enjoy the meal again that evening. Greta was kind enough to pick up the tab (roughly $53.00 or so) and treat us for the holidays. Service was quick and efficient. I have to give special credit to the kitchen that was getting things out and to the table in record time.
Following our food fest at Delux, we headed over to Arlecchino’s for a round of gelato that pleased everyone.
It was a great way to kick off the holiday weekend.
Thanks for a great year, Team Valkyries!
3146 East Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016
Hours: Open 7 Days A Week - 11 AM to 2 AM
Notes: Reservations are not accepted. Patio dining is available. Delux is located just east of the Safeway.
Additional photos can be found at www.feastinginphoenix.com