1835 SW Washington, 243-2181
When they renovated PGE Park to build a minor-league baseball team, I knew it would be a colossal failure. When they built the streetcar, I knew it would try to kill people--I could tell by the look in its eyes.
Having proven my instincts to be irrefutably valid, my impression of the newly renovated Stephanos is thus: A guy with some money and no restaurant experience wanted to own a classy nightclub. He made a play for fine dining because it sounds elegant. But in reality, he should forget the food, change the name, and make a balls-out effort to cater to nightclub scenesters.
After dining there, I can safely say the menu is confused and therefore mediocre. Homestyle items like meatloaf reside on the menu with Asian Pork Spring Rolls. Likewise, the Italian Kalamata Olive and Feta Ravioli is shockingly weird, as the sauce is oily and includes whole, cooked onion balls and pickled artichoke hearts. Other observations: The pre-dinner salad was browning and the bread was stale, yet the drinks were quite tasty and the scenery was intriguingly risqué.
One half of Stephanos is filled with intimate tables for dining. The other half is filled with giant, fluffy, make-out couches. At around 8:30 on a recent Wednesday, the lights were quite dim and two couples were getting busy on said couches. One couple exchanged sheepish smooches, while the other two dry-humped for half an hour. Nice.
Stephanos has a great location, a good setup, and a promising space in the back called The Shadow Room, which isn't finished yet, but looks like a great place to dance. They have DJs almost nightly, which cover up the sounds of violent grunting. And on weekends, they are very crowded, with a well-stocked meat market inside.
Some advice to the owner: Bag the food, save yourself some money, and change the name of this place to "Discreet" or "Forbidden Treasure." Have great drink specials that include fresh fruit, and get some dancing going in the back. After a while, charge a six-dollar cover. Trust me, you'll do great.