Same great view, plus some changes at Stanley & Seafort's in Tacoma.
TNT photo by Lui Kit Wong
Stanley & Seafort's has a new general manager, a new executive chef, some new menu items and a renewed attitude.
"We didn't want to be a special-occasion place," GM Scott Leffel told me. "It shouldn't be someplace that you come to to celebrate just once a year."
Tacoma's 23-year-old restaurant on the hill is a Tacoma icon, no doubt. But when I reviewed it October, the ship was listing. I recall sloppy kitchen work, uneven service and a slouching-toward-nostalgia menu.
Executive chef Mark Randolph came on board five months ago. He's been with Stanley & Seafort's parent company, Seattle-based Restaurants Unlimited Inc., for about a decade, most recently as a food and beverage director. Leffel said Randolph has overhauled a handful of R-U-I properties and signed on with Stanley's to focus on quality and consistency.
Leffel arrived at Stanley's a couple of months ago from Ruth Chris Steak House in Seattle, where he worked for 10 years. Prior to that, he worked for R-U-I's Palisades in Seattle.
Leffel said he'll focus "on guests rather than salesmanship."
"I'm a value guy," he said.
To that end, new items like American-style Kobe beef meatloaf and Hawaiian baby back ribs are priced around $15.95.
"It wasn't that I feel we were overpriced necessarily," Leffel said. "It's just something getting back to a place where everybody is comfortable coming back in."
Other new additions include cocktails like the White Cosmo, Blood Orange Mojito and Cherry Martini. There's also free valet parking.
I dropped by Stanley's this week to check out the new meatloaf, made with Snake River Farms' American-style Kobe beef, Italian sausage and pepper bacon. The nine-ounce serving of meatloaf was on the loose side, but it was a tasty entree, smothered in mushroom gravy, with sinus-clearing horseradish mashed potatoes and sweet, stewed red cabbage on the side.
I wondered whether making meatloaf with pedigreed American-style Kobe beef wasn't akin to making sangria with an $80 bottle of Barolo.
"Could we use something not as high quality as Kobe beef?" Leffel said. "Sure. But would this be as compelling? I don't think so. When you prepare it the right way, it's something you want to come back and try right away."
Old-time Stanley's fans, worry not: The Broadway Pea salad is still around, as is the filet Oscar. No matter what changes occur, Stanley's is still about nostalgia.
"A lot of people at our home office came up through Stanley's," Leffel said. "This is a restaurant they're very passionate about."
Stanley & Seafort's
115 East 34th St., Tacoma, 253-473-7300