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End of an era

Saturday, July 12, 2008
A part of Portland has died recently, and I only just found out. There was a time when I went to Stanford's Restaurant for the happy hour often because a) it was inexpensive, and b) the spinach and artichoke dip was amazing. Living in Salem for the past two years, I missed going there after work from time to time, and was looking forward to when I could move back and go again.

Well, I happened to be in downtown Portland the other day with some time on my hands and I went to the Stanford's Riverplace (just off the Willamette River.) I eagerly ordered a drink (whiskey and coke) and some food - including my much-desired dip. Imagine, then, my horror as the dip arrived and it looked different.

Puzzled, I asked the waitress about the bread crumbs now strewn across to top of my food. "Well," she ventured, "we were bought a few months ago, and they changed the recipe." Shocked, I asked why. "I'm not sure," she hesitantly responded. "I think they were just trying to be different."

I resolved to eat this dip anyway, hoping it wouldn't be that different and might still be good.

I was wrong.

I managed to get through about half of the order and just couldn't finish it. It was TERRIBLE. I mean, absolutely flavorless, with the texture of too much mayonnaise. The best reason to ever go to Stanford's happy hour was now erased, much to my dismay. (And, apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so.) It seems that an outfit called RUI ("Restaurants Unlimited") now own Stanford's, Newport Bay Grill, and Billy Heartbeat's. Let's hope the food at the other places isn't as bad now, too.

The only happy note to this story was that my girlfriend joined me and we ended up going across the street to McCormick & Schmick's, where we got their happy hour spinach and artichoke dip - which still has flavor, and is pretty darn close to what Stanford's used to be!

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