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 BĂ©arnaise 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


Liz said...

Yeah, we went there with Andy when we were in Tampa last year. Can you say "retro"?

Denise said...

Funny you bring this up - Thomas and I recently went to Bern's after not having been there for a very long time. Not sure why we waited so long - it was delicious, and definitely one of the better values for upscale dining I have experienced. We will also be making a repeat visit before too long!