It’s been awhile since I’ve done a restaurant review. We’ve been eating at home most of the time, and when we do go out, it tends to be to our regular spots. So finding new places lately has been rare. To make up for my slackness, I’m going to do two back-to-back restaurant posts. This first one is my latest visit to the Duncan Family Restaurant in Duncan, SC. Despite previous very, very bad experiences in this location as another restaurant, Duncan Family Restaurant has turned out to be a delightful surprise.
This location started out as the Duncan Cafeteria. About fifteen years ago my father was the pastor of Woods Chapel Methodist, not far from here. I’d stopped by to see him, and we went for lunch at the cafeteria. At that time it was a typical cafeteria where you pick up a tray, walk through a line, and pick what you want to eat. That one experience turned me off completely. The blandness of the food amazing. Many years later I decided to give it a shot again, now that I worked in the area. I never made it past the front door. The stench of grease was enough to make me turn around and skip lunch altogether.
Fast forward to the present. A couple of years ago the location was bought out by new owners who remodeled and transformed the former cafeteria into the present restaurant. Given my previous experiences I was still hesitant to try it. A couple of months ago I had a lunch meeting with one of our vendors, and he insisted on visiting, so I tagged along with him. I was glad I did, and have been back several times since then.
Cozy and comfortable seems to describe it best. This is an unassuming mom-n-pop type of place with booths and tables and simple light decor. At the entrance are several display cases with cakes and other desserts.
Gone is the food line, as well as the counter for picking out one’s meal. Visitors are seated then order from a menu just like any other restaurant.
The place is full of local color, more from the patrons than from the actual items of the restaurant. The last couple of times I was here I overheard several interesting conversations about deer hunting, the local football team, etc. etc.
Although meat-n-three best describes the cuisine, the menu goes far beyond that. There are a variety of sandwiches and burgers on the menus, as well as a few dinner options. The sandwiches run from $5-$8, with dinner options a bit more.
Even the meat-n-three options take on a different twist. Usually, places like this will have three or four meats from which to choose, then a variety of vegetables, all for the same price. There are some selections like that here, but there is also a page of variations – other meats for different prices, with different numbers of vegetables depending on what comes with the meat. These look like a hybrid between standard meat-n-three fare and menu entree’ selections.
Even with this huge variety of options, there are still some daily specials written on the front board that are not included on the menu.
Each time I’ve been here I’ve selected from the meat-n-three menu. The turkey and dressing was wonderful, but the chicken and dumplings have been the best. Both of these were far from that bland experience ages ago. These were seasoned nicely, along with the accompanying vegetables. In both cases there was more than I should be eating for lunch.
So far there have been no problems at all. The wait staff has been cheerful and efficient, and the food has come out fairly quickly.
If you can’t find something you like here, you’re probably just not looking hard enough – tasty, simple fare in a comfortable location. I’ve added Duncan Family Restaurants to my list of regular stops on my lunch rounds.