As I’ve said before, I will go anywhere for an amazing meal. However, this time, amazing was right in my own backyard! A short hour and a half drive brought me to Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida. Driving up, you see a very unassuming white building, but once you step inside you are transported to a very magical place. The lobby is illuminated by red tinted lights with velvet lining the walls. This is certainly not a t-shirt and jeans kind of place but surprisingly the prices are completely reasonable. You won't have to spend more than $35 to leave with a belly full of their fabulous steaks and sides. We had a reservation for 7:30 pm on a Tuesday night but arrived around 6:45 pm. They were very accommodating and got us seated within 15 minutes. The restaurant consists of a series of small dining rooms. We were seated near the back of one of these dining rooms and found ourselves immersed in a very intimate atmosphere. The servers, the majority of whom have been there for over 20 years, are more than attentive and can answer any questions you have about their very extensive menu or wine list.
To ensure you understand every aspect of ordering the ideal steak at the temperature and cut you prefer, they provide you with multiple descriptions and charts explaining each option in great detail. Their steaks are dry aged twice as long as the industry standard and your particular steak is hand cut only after having placed your order!
My diner date and I started with two glasses of Riesling since I am undoubtedly a white wine person. He continued to venture his way around their enormous wine list throughout dinner, with the help of our server.
Along with your entrée come multiple yummy appetizers and sides. First they bring out their famous French onion soup au gratin. I am not exaggerating; this is THE best French onion soup I’ve ever tasted! I dare someone to find a better one! It was blanketed by a blend of five cheeses and was accompanied by garlic and spelt toasts. It provided the perfect balance of onion and cheesy goodness. I made sure to absorb every last drop!
The next course was the salad course. I opted for the house salad with their homemade ranch dressing. Although I’m not a salad person, I did enjoy dipping my crisp cucumbers in their creamy house dressing. My lovely dinner date ordered the house salad as well and all he left behind was the empty plate.
The next course was the most important, the entrée!! I choose the 8 ounce NY Strip Steak cooked medium. It came sizzling to the table which was music to my ears. It was prepared beautifully – seared to perfection, providing fantastic flavors and just right amount of pink in the center. It was juicy, tender and seasoned like no other steak I’ve ever tasted. Alongside my extraordinary steak came fried onion strings. At first glance they look like plain ole’ onions, however, after my first bite I was taken to a whole new place of delight. I could taste the buttermilk and splendid seasonings they used to bread these gloriously crispy onions. When combining both my magnificently cooked steak and my flavor packed onion strings into one bite I swear I could hear angels singing – absolutely life changing! Shaved carrots and brilliantly grilled zucchini also came alongside but were sadly left unfinished since I refused to leave any morsel of steak or onion string behind.
They also bring out their marvelous baked potatoes when delivering the main course. You can order your tater with as many topping as your heart desires. I chose sour cream, bacon and chives. This was certainly one the freshest and creamiest potatoes I’ve ever consumed. It was as soft as butter and completely melted in my mouth.
You would think this would be enough to satisfy us, but we simply could not resist their white truffle mac n cheese after seeing it delivered to one of our neighboring tables. Truffle mac n cheese is a common occurrence on many steakhouse menus but the entire dish is usually overpowered by the truffle oil – that was not the case at Bern’s. This side dish was absolutely heavenly – creamy and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs. The truffle oil melded with the velvety cheeses wonderfully. We tried our hardest to finish every single piece of perfectly cooked pasta. This was an additional cost but positively worth every penny.
Before heading upstairs for dessert (I’ll explain in a bit), your server will ask if you would like a tour of the kitchen and wine cellar…the answer should always be Yes!! Bern’s is home to the world’s largest restaurant wine cellar! Literally wall to wall wine - definitely a must-see! They start off with a tour of their extremely busy kitchen, describing each station while in action. Their kitchen operates like a very well-oiled machine – from salad preparations to the grill that produces their flawlessly cooked steaks. Everyone has a particular job and they perform it impeccably.
After finishing the kitchen tour, it’s time for dessert and at Bern’s they have a very special area on the second floor in which you must have dessert. This in itself is an incredible experience. It's called the Harry Waugh Dessert Room. There’s a winding hallway of enclosed booths each comfortably seating between 2 to 8 people. Each booth provides you with the privacy to eat as many delectable desserts as you desire – and for us that meant three desserts in total, one Brown Sugar, one King Midas, and one Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle! They have the largest dessert menu of any restaurant I’ve ever been to, which makes it very difficult to choose one or even just two desserts; a fact we used to justify our splurging.
The Brown Sugar was a sampler consisting of chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake, a cookies and cream ice cream sandwich, and a warm brown sugar blondie.
The King Midas was moist carrot cake topped with exquisite macadamia nut ice cream and hot fudge. This is seriously some of the tastiest ice cream I’ve ever had. It was super creamy and full of flavor!
And last but definitely not least is the Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle. Milk chocolate mousse and peanut butter cream are layered with peanut pralines on a chewy chocolate brownie crust! It was without a doubt my favorite! The rich peanut butter cream and crunchy pralines were great companions for the chocolate mousse. It was simply unforgettable!
Bern's is unlike any other steakhouse. It is an out of this world culinary experience that you have to see to believe. So, free up about three hours and get yourself to Bern’s Steakhouse! You can thank me later.