|Steak Dinner at Bern's Steak House|
On a recent trip to Tampa on business, I had the privilege of not only traveling first class (both flights AND accommodations), but dinner as well. My husband was with me on the trip because we were attending our nephew’s wedding nearby that weekend. After what seemed like a very long day on Friday, we drove to Bern’s Steakhouse [www.bernssteakhouse.com] where we had dinner reservations. Bruce had been there previously and thought it would be a fitting venue to celebrate our anniversary. All he said on the way to the restaurant was, “Be prepared to be impressed.”
The outside wasn’t spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, however everyone’s car (except the very expensive models) was valet parked in a nearby garage. Inside looked like a cleaner version of Disney’s Haunted Mansion, with majestic staircases, velvet chairs and antique artwork and lighting. We were seated in a quiet corner of one of the five dining rooms with waiters and sommeliers waiting to service the patrons. I needed a martini just to get through the wine and dinner menus that read more like a book than a menu. For the wine, we chose for one of our favorites, 2007 Flowers Pinot Noir, which was expertly decanted prior to the meal. The steak portion of the dinner menu was also extensive…. Everything from NY Strip to Chateaubriand explained in a two page matrix that described the cuts, size, thickness, doneness, etc. We selected the Chateaubriand for two which was served with Bern’s French Onion Soup (very good, but not quite as good as mine ;) salad with a choice of homemade dressings, baked potato, vegetable and their very own special thin Vadalia onion rings. It was absolutely stupendous- you could see and taste the attention to detail in everything. And the steak, well…. It was cooked perfectly on a charcoal grill which created a nice crust on the outside, while the inside melted in your mouth.
|Kitchen Staff Hard at Work|
After dinner, the waiter escorted us to the kitchen where we were given a private, back of house tour. The kitchen encompasses 6,200 SF which is more than all the dining rooms combined. A staff of 80 was so busily working in each of the stations (in order to wait tables at Bern’s, one must spend a year working all the stations of the kitchen).
From there, we were led to the wine cellar. Not all 450,000 bottles are housed in the restaurant, but it was certainly extensive, including the locked portion of rare wines, some dating back to the 1800’s. All are catalogued like the Dewey decimal system in order to keep track of them. I was so awe-struck that all I could do was look at my husband and mouth the word WOW!
|Only a Portion of the Wine Cellar|
Lastly, we were guided to the second floor Dessert Room which included 48 private banquets made from antique, rosewood wine casks. Seated across from the piano player, it was a very romantic and intimate setting. The dessert menu included an assortment of 50 desserts, one more luscious than the next and highlighted a few that were developed by Bern as signature sweets. The dessert menu also included a very extensive artesian cheese and wine list. Too many choices to imagine, for sure.
Bruce opted for the spirited cappuccino with Bern’s custom, Kahlua infused roasted coffee beans and a trio of chocolate cakes accompanied by various homemade ice creams. I decided on a Madera wine flight and a selection of artesian cheeses with custom chutneys. We were, after all, celebrating our anniversary, which made me think of our wedding and not more than a few moments later, the piano player started his next set with our wedding song
- what a sweet way (pun intended) to tie a bow around a very memorable dining experience!
|Intimate, 2nd Floor Dessert Room|
|Amazing Chocolate Dessert!|
Bern’s- story and his vision for the dining experience are very unique. I was so captivated by the evening that I have since added the Bern’s Steakhouse Cookbook to my library. If you are ever in the Tampa area, it’s well worth the trip- I promise, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, be prepared to be impressed- VERY IMPRESSED!