Tuesday, June 26, 2012

After All these Years

It has been over 20 years since I last visited Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa. Why? I have no clue but I rectified that situation when Frank and I dined there last Sunday to celebrate our birthdays (10 days and ????? years apart.). Sunday we had one of the rainiest days thanks to Tropical Storm Debby but we decided to brave the potentially flooded wet streets of South Tampa to honor our 8PM  reservation. Not knowing what to expect on the roads due to some localized flooding we left early and arrived by 7PM. Not surprising many people did not brave the weather and Bern's could seat us immediately. The decor is very classy with rich dark woods. Gone are the days of the Spanish bordello look. While that was fun, this is much more elegant. 

Our server mentioned he had been at Bern's for 15 years, the first 1 1/2 - 2 years in training in all operations of the facility, including dish washing. Once they make it to the server position they hang around for a while. Needless to say the service is excellent. 

On to the food: Frank ordered a bottle of The Prisoner a Napa Valley blend (cab and zin) based on the recommendation of our server. The wine was lovely and was in the price range we requested. 

For an appetizer we order the fried Calamari lightly battered and tender.

Next up was the entry, with a full accompaniment of side dishes. We both opted for the 6 oz filet mignon, the smallest they offer. You can basically order any cut you want and at whatever weight you might desire from our 6 oz filet to a 60 oz. strip sirloin serving 6. Check the MENU.

The filet was exquisite, we both enjoyed the steak medium rare, deep red on the inside and a lovely charred crust on the outside. I selected a Gorgonzola Fondue sauce with my steak, while Frank enjoyed the Béarnaise sauce. Both worked great with the steaks.

While you could order a number of different sides at an up-charge, we stuck with the standard ones included in the price of the steak. We selected the French Onion Soup (good) and House Salad (also good). Frank had it with a Cabernet Sauvignon Vinaigrette dressing while I selected the Blue Cheese dressing. 

With the steak we were served a baked potato, a cluster of very thinly sliced fried onion rings,  green beans and shredded carrots which had been sauteed in a Madeira sauce. The carrots were my least favorite item on my plate, while every thing else was very good and were good accompaniments to go with the steaks. 

We are not done yet. Next up was a brief walk through the kitchen on the way to the wine cellar. Bern's is noted for having one of the largest selections of wines at every price point. This tour is optional but I cannot imagine anyone passing it up - I would hate to guess the value of the wine in that cellar.

After the wine tour, we were escorted to the 2nd floor dessert room, only available to restaurant customers. The tables in the dessert rooms (multiple rooms) were in semicircular "booths" that resembled large wine casks with limited views of the other patrons in the room.

Frank ordered the Strawberry Key Lime Tart while I had the "Classic" Banana Cheese Pie. In my opinion Frank won the "pick the best dessert" contest.

We had a wonderful evening. It is not just about the great food, but the service, wine, decor and the tradition. It is a highly recommended dining experience And it is easy to see how they have continued to please customers since 1956. I will not wait another 20 years to return to Bern's

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Two Saturdays, Two Museums

Over the past two weekends Frank and I visited two of our favorite local museums to view their current exhibits. Both exhibits were highly interesting and we would recommend them if you are in the area.

The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg has a lovely collection of Art Glass on display. The exhibit, "Global + Local Studio and Contemporary Glass on Florida’s West Coast" is on display through October 14, 2012. It includes works by Dale Chihuly, William Morris, and Chuck Boux among many others. Most of us recognize the work of Dale Chihuly especially since St.  Petersburg is home of the Dale Chihuly Collection, a permanent collection on Beach Drive. I am truly amazed at the lovely works produced by these artists and the magic they can work with molten glass. 

The next exhibit was "A Hundred Years - A Hundred Chairs. Masterworks from the Vitra Design Museum" at the Tampa museum of Art which runs through September 16, 2012. While this topic may not seem exciting enough to get you out of your chair to visit, it really is a worthwhile exhibit which covers 100 years of contemporary chair design utilizing an array of materials from wood, leather, plastics, fabrics, and cardboard (yes, really). Designers include Frank Gehry, Mies Van der Rohe (of Barcelona Chair fame), Philippe Starck and others. The chairs in most cases will be recognizable and continue to be staple of contemporary design. Another exhibit well worth the time to visit. But with 100 chairs in the exhibit, there isn't one place to sit to enjoy the works. 

Barcelona Chair designed by Mies Van der Rohe (from the Internet)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Kudos to Bob

Our friend, Bob G., in his quest for 15 minutes of fame, snagged a big block of fame last Friday night. He was the driving force behind the "Windows on Broadway" review, performed at King of Peace church in St. Petersburg. Bob is an accomplished pianist responsible for much of the creativity for this production. The review included selections from Cabaret, Les Miserables, The Wiz, and My Fair Lady to name only a few. The singers were all great and entertaining as they performed to an almost sold out house. 

Thanks Bob, for all of the effort you put in to make this a memorable evening.