Table Talk: Stanford Grill opens in Columbia

Manager aims to offer 'elevated service, style and atmosphere'

May 26, 2010|By Richard Gorelick, Special to The Baltimore Sun

For years, dining in Howard County has been characterized by family atmosphere, and if adults wanted a night on their own, they'd suddenly find themselves right at the top of the price ladder. There haven't been enough of those in-between places.

Then came the opening a few months ago of affordable but chic Facci in Laurel, whose crazy and instant success suggested two things: There is a great need for moderately priced, sit-down places that aren't part of a big chain, and kids are fine going to places that aren't for kids.

We'll see what happens with Stanford Grill, which opened Monday in Columbia in the old Lone Star Grill space. The 250-seat restaurant's specialty will be its in-house rotisserie chicken and hardwood-grilled steaks and whole fish. On the whole, the opening menu here is traditional, maybe even conservative, but the owners are hoping to attract and satisfy customers with what general manager Juancarlo Parkhurst describes as "elevated service, style and atmosphere."

The new amenities and attractions here include an open kitchen, a full bar, two outdoor patios and a rebuilt interior with granite features and leather accents.

"Howard County is a diverse community," Parkhurst says, "but the majority of restaurants are chains." Stanford Grill is, in fact, part of the Columbia-based Blue Ridge Restaurant Group, which operates five Copper Canyon Grill restaurants in Maryland, Virginia and Florida. Stanford Grill is the group's first departure from that formula, and Pankhurst says that each restaurant within the group has a great deal of autonomy.

Most of Parkhurst's experience is with Ruth's Chris Steak House; the executive chef, Anthony Peake, comes from McCormick & Schmick's. Their challenge, I think, will be to make Stanford Grill perform like a chain but not feel like a chain.

Stanford Grill will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, but lunch service isn't scheduled to begin immediately. The restaurant won't be taking reservations, but guests can phone 410-312-0445 for "call- ahead seating."

Orioles Cook-off: Down at the ESPN Zone, Brad Bergesen, Luke Scott and Kevin Millwood are scheduled to compete Wednesday in the second annual Orioles Cook-off, a benefit for the Maryland Food Bank. Unlike last year's ticketed event, this one is free.

Fans will be asked to donate $5 or three canned goods for admission. Last year, Greg Zaun's chicken enchiladas beat out the efforts of Brian Roberts and Jeremy Guthrie. This time, it's Bergesen's "simple salmon" going up against Scott's surf & turf and Millwood's chicken enchiladas, which we assume are different from Zaun's chicken enchiladas. Millwood, with those years in Texas, has the apparent edge.

Each fan who makes a donation will receive one autographed card from Bergesen, Millwood or Scott. All three Orioles are desperately in need of nicknames, so perhaps the winner should be asked to accept a new nickname based on his winning dish. Looking things over, this would work out great for Luke "Surf & Turf" Scott, not so much for Brad "Simple Salmon" Bergesen.

The Orioles Cook-off is 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. ESPN Zone is at 601 E. Pratt St. Call 410-685-3776.

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