On our recent trip to Florida, we had the great pleasure of dining out at Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa. This was suppose to be our one night of fancy dining. My husband went their last May when he went to another conference down in St. Pete...and couldn't wait to take me there.
So...I spend the ENTIRE day getting ready. I went out looking like this:
I came back looking like this:
Why did I choose flashy seductive red? Because...I am so sick of wearing black to hide my body in...that I said...I AM BUYING THIS ONE! THE RED ONE!
Bern's Steakhouse is the type of restaurant that you will want to call in advance to have reservations. If you go to their website beforehand and look things over...it will really help. Their menu is long, and full of things I had never heard of. Their wine list....very very long. Their wine selection is one of the things that makes this restaurant stand out. On our tour after our dinner, we were able to see the wine cellar. They have over 30,000 bottles of wine. It was amazing to see! Here are a few pictures I captured in the cellar.
This was actually looking up...above our heads!
This one was above our heads as well.
Those are some HUGE bottles of wine. Although we were informed are not for sale.See the wire behind these bottles...just behind that is a part of the cellar area that is padlocked shut. Why??? Because they have very expensive bottles of wine in there, the highest cost for a bottle will set you back a cool $10,000!!!!!! They have one bottle of that left if you want to snatch it up, they used to have 2...which means someone bought the other one. Crazy!
Round 1: Our meal started as do a lot of restaurant meals...with some wonderful fresh baked bread. Only Bern's actually has an in house bakery, where it really is baked fresh. It was so good, and the butter wasn't just butter, it had garlic and other flavors in it too. I was conservative though, cause I knew I had many more courses to go!
Round 2: Next came our appetizer. We ordered the Foie Gras a la Plancha. Description: Truffle Roasted wild mushrooms, toasted brioche, Napa Valley Merlot reduction. Do you know what Foie Gras means? Yeah...I didn't either...so I googled it of course. Definition: A pate made from goose liver and truffles. Which, doesn't sound appetizing to me, and not something I would normally try, but my husband claimed that I would like it...so ahead I went. It was absolutely wonderful. You spread the foie Gras onto the brioche and it just melts into your mouth. It has a rich, slightly salty, creamy taste that is wonderful!
Round 3: Their homemade French Onion Soup. I had never ordered French Onion soup before. I always thought that a soup made up solely of onions meant heartburn and Tums. I had recently tried a spoonful of an order of my husbands and it was good. Bern's French Onion soup though...words can't even do it justice. I will tell you that I woke up the next day craving the taste. I STILL can't get over the taste, it was that good. On our after dinner tour of the kitchens and wine cellar, our guide informed us that on a busy night (which is almost every night) they go through 300 pounds of onions. The serve the soup in these beautiful little pewter dishes. Looked like medievel times bowls that would be used in a castle. The cheese that was baked and melted over the top of the soup was so delicious. I didn't want this soup to end! I must learn and master making this...recipes anyone?
Round 4: Ceaser Salad, made fresh at our table. You might ask...how do you make ceaser salad fresh at your table, don't you just take some lettuce, pour on some ceaser dressing and be done? No no no...not at Bern's Steakhouse....no...they literally make the dressing from scratch right in front of you. It is all done in a large wooden bowl, they start by taking a few cloves of garlic and mashing them by hand with a fork into the bowl, they then added fresh anchovies, freshly squeezed a lemon, egg substitute (I WISH I could remember what they said they used for this, some kind of cream and oil mixture), fresh grated parmesan cheese, cracked peper, salt. Mix this all together and then add the lettuce. This salad was A M A Z I N G! At first, you get a taste of garlic, then the lemon settles in, then at the end there is a little kick...all together combined creates a ceaser salad which can not be re-created unless made fresh like theirs.
Round 5: We ordered a Filet Mignon. You have to see their menu to understand the seriousness of their level of standards for meat. It can get quite complicated to understand, but we did cheat a little by looking over the menu online before going to the restaurant. We chose 2 types of sauces to dip our filet into. They were both out of this world. We tried the Gorgonzola Fondue and the Soy Armagnac. My favorite was the Gorgonzola. Our steak came with their signature Steak House Onion rings and a loaded baked potato.
Round 6: What....you thought we would leave without dessert? Well...first...before dessert....they took us on an optional tour of the kitchens and wine cellar. The organization of this restaurant is out of this world. It seems as though their was an employee, standing about every 3 feet with a job to do, or to be there ready and willing for the next task. All dressed in suit jackets, slacks and a tie. They have their beef counters, poultry, and a seperate area for their seafood. Everything fresh. Speaking of fresh, this restaurant has it's own farm! At this farm they raise the food that they serve. All of the employees start working for the company...at the farm. They get their hands dirty, they put ownership into it by seeing and doing the hard work that it takes to create the delicious foods they serve. They farm organically
Did I mention the service? Here is a quote taken from their website about the training of their staff: Our waiters train one year with us, working at almost every station in the restaurant, in our workshops, and on the farm. They then train for another 8 to 12 weeks in the dining rooms before they wait on you by themselves. And they continue to wear burgunday ties for perhaps a year before we feel that they are fully knowledgeable to answer all your questions properly.
They have some waiters who have worked their for over 30 years! Our waiter had worked their for 3 years before she was finally able to be a waitress on her own!
My husband and I LOVE to go to places that have mastered the art of customer service! We are very critical when we go places as we are grading their services from the moment we walk in the door. My husband of course has this passion since he runs our business and I from working many years in the Customer Service industry.
You have to see their menu! Really, their menu I have linked tells more about how and why this restaurant came to be what it is today.
Ok, back to dessert. Round 6...and the final round. After walking up these stairs:
We were escorted to the seperate dessert room. Yeah...I know! They take you to a seperate dessert room! We ordered and shared the Chocolate-Chocolate-Chocolate. Description: Layers of our chocolate cheese pie, chocolate cheesecake with a white chocolate center, and milk chocolate mousse on a dense chocolate crust. Accompanied by dark chocolate sauce.
No really...I don't know how I could have gained 4 pounds on our trip!?! At the end of our dining adventure, we asked the nice concierge to take our photo. The decor you see in this entry way, is what was throughout the entire restaurant. Very elegant, unlike anything I have ever experienced. My adventure at Bern's Steakhouse took my dining expectations to a whole 'nother level. It proves that excellance can happen in a restaurant, and that their are people still out their that have mastered the art of Customer Service and fine food and wines. Thank you Bern's for the great experience.
Your mission statement "We do things differently here" only touches the tip of the iceberg!