By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Donovan’s Steak and Chop House management wants the Biltmore-area restaurant to be known for more than its pricey dishes.
The mahogany-laden, stylish dining establishment is pushing its expanded happy hour menu, which is served from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“We want people to remember that we have a bar and to give that a shot before they come in and dine with us,” says general manager Kaity Alverson.
With steaks that range from a filet ($52) to ribeye chop ($74), Donovan’s is striving to change its reputation as just a special occasion restaurant, she adds.
“We want guests to come in and do the full experience, to give themselves enough time to go into the bar, and then do the full three- or four-course experience,” she says.
“We can definitely be made affordable. If they come in and experience the bar and the happy hour, that’s definitely another side of Donovan’s, besides the super high-end side.”
Specials abound at Donovan’s. The establishment will participate in Arizona Fall Restaurant Week from September 15 to September 24, during which diners can purchase prix fixe meals for $33 or $44. The regular menu boasts a chef’s prix fixe with a choice of starter, entrée and dessert for $52. Groupon deals are occasionally available.
“I always recommend the chef’s prix fixe the first time,” she says. “If they try that option, they can test all the courses and get the experience. It’s more limited as far as options go, but at least we give you an affordable option.”
The menu at Donovan’s features USDA Prime steaks, fresh seafood, and a depth of wine variety that has earned the prestigious Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.
“We serve USDA prime cuts 100 percent, but we keep it as cost driven as we can,” Alverson says. “It’s the best value with what you’re paying for. We’re very unlike any other steakhouse. We know our prices are a little bit higher. Our quality of meat is a little bit higher. We do a side—the vegetable and potato, instead of doing it family-style where you pay for the meat and everything else is a la carte.”
Diners can dress up their meat with béarnaise, peppercorn sauce, crumbled bleu cheese or Cajun seasoning, for an additional $3.
“Instead of doing the fancy dancy 25 different herbs and seasonings on your steak, we offer a classic piece of meat that tastes like it should,” Alverson says. “Different restaurants have their own recipes and seasonings. We’ll get feedback that says the meat didn’t have much flavor, that it tasted like meat.
“Well, thank you. We do like to offer those accoutrements and additional offerings.”
Diners are waited on by a team of servers, all of whom are very knowledgeable—and some with a dry sense of humor.
“Nowadays, we’re overrun with restaurants,” Alverson says. “We have so many choices and options. What sets us apart was service. It’s not just customer service, but our staff is knowledgeable. This shows that they all want to be here. They care about the high level of service and giving all diners the full experience, whether it’s through Arizona Restaurant Week, Groupon, happy hour or prix fixe.
Alverson has been working in the area for 10-plus years. She sees many regulars at Donovan’s, which also has locations in San Diego and La Jolla. Those who have been to Donovan’s 10 or more times, are honored with nameplates above booths. Inside the door, near the bar, is a wine locker façade. The true wine lockers are $250 per year and it gives members the opportunity to purchase wine at a 20-percent discount.
That family feel extends beyond the customers.
“I was here when Donovan’s opened,” she says. “There are members of the staff who were here when we opened and still are today. There’s definitely a family feel, not just with guests, but with staff.
“No other steakhouse or restaurant has as much of a family feel as we have. Our staff truly cares about each other and the guests. It definitely speaks through.”
Donovan’s Steak and Chop House, 3101 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, 602.955.3666, donovanssteakhouse.com.