Driving down S. Howard Ave near downtown Tampa, you pull up to an old totally unassuming Bern’s Steak House sign and trust me when I say that you have no idea what a delicious and unique culinary treat you are in for. I imagine people drive by that old sign everyday and having no idea of the culinary treat that lies inside the walls of that old strip mall.
Upon arrival for my second review of this amazing establishment, I was quickly and professionally greeted by Bern’s valet staff, their Dining Room Manager and their knowledgeable and talented bartender. My co-writer and I had a few incredible glasses of red wine, hand picked by our experienced bar staff. We were then cordially escorted to our table through one of the most aesthetically beautiful restaurants in the world.
From 1956 on Founder Bern Laxer really knew what he was doing. Bern had vision far beyond probably any other restaurant owner in the country including organic farming 30 years before it became popular and his wine and property buying power were unmatched. Today, worldwide, people know Bern’s Steak House as a restaurant above all the rest.
The unique, rare art, carpet, wallpaper and decorations are all very opulent, old and charming. Their prime steaks are cut to order, their vegetables are grown locally on Bern’s old fashioned organic farm and sourced from the finest purveyors, they have quite possibly the largest selection of fine wines in world ranging from 600,000 to 1.2 million bottles on site at any given time and their menu includes 21 choices of caviar. It’s not just the food, wine and ambience that makes this place unforgettable either, but it’s also the high class well educated and experienced staff that adds so much more to your dining experience.
Valet was classy and quick. The very professional and personable restaurant front desk and dining room manager, Mr. Frank Russo, was quick to greet and seat us. He even scheduled a private tour which every guest gets, but ours was special. We got a guided tour of the kitchen, the in-house coffee bean roaster, the salad station, the butcher’s block carving steaks as they’re ordered, the 75 day dry aged prime steak and A5 Waygu beef refrigerator, the wine cellar and the priceless art collection on the walls in the various dining rooms.
Bern’s servers must first bus tables before given the opportunity to be a waiter/waitress. Their longest working and head server Jamal has the final say in the hiring process on each and every person hired.
While rubbing arms with famous celebrities, professional athletes and fancy businessmen and women, we indulged in what was probably the best meal we’ve ever had. James Braswell, our server, was very professional, charismatic and professional. He says you should never discriminate against any alcohols. If you want beer with your steak over a red wine, then by all means. Him and the sommelier recommend the Russian River Syrah 2009. It was one of the best wines that I have ever tasted. The flavor was unreal, super tasty and very light on the tannins. We started with their signature French onion soup made with a veal, not beef stock accompanied with homemade tasty and zesty garlic bread. Then the salad came out and this is fancy accompanied by one of ten different made from scratch homemade dressings like macadamia vinaigrette, ranch, French, 1000 island, etc.
Then the duck confit topped with a sweet glaze came out and it literally fell right off the bone. Next was the 5 star and deliciously perfect oysters with horseradish and green Tabasco sorbet cocktail sauce with a truffle vinaigrette oil. Our last appetizer was the lobster cocktail with whipped avocado moose. all of these were to die for, but then the main courses came out. Strips of A5 Waygu beef so soft that you literally didn’t even have to chew it. The flavor will never leave my mind either. It was so soft, fatty and flavorful and then the 75 day dry aged Delmonico ribeye with garlic butter and truffled wild mushrooms came out. We were in pure bliss. Words cannot describe what these gentlemen have done to steak. It’s on a whole new level and I’ve been all over the world to the finest restaurants around. Once you think your dining experience is over they take you to their very famous private Harry Waugh Dessert Room.
The private dessert rooms were each made from wine casts so everyone gets an intimate experience. Everything on the dessert menu is made from scratch and they get the majority of their ingredients from their privately owned organic farm. You can order your fresh coffee, ports and desserts and listen to custom music within your very own private table booth. You can even pick up the phone on the wall mounts and speak directly to the piano player to make requests. From Beethoven to Billy Joel Kenny knew them all. We had banana cheese pie and cafe con leche as well as peanut butter truffle. We were drooling it was so fluffy, tasty and light. The hardest part to believe is that this one of kind restaurant is remarkably affordable. I truly commend them for making their prices so affordable even though the world’s richest people frequently take their yachts and private jets here just to dine at Bern’s Steakhouse!
Started as a beer tavern in 1956 and through time Bern’s grew in size and popularity. Although Bern went through various trials and tribulations, he made some very wise investments, particularly in very fine rare valuable wines. Now they are the best and most popular restaurant in the entire world. Bern’s founder, Bern Laxer, traveled the globe extensively exploring, researching and tasting wines that he could bring back and introduce to his guests back home. In time, the cellar grew to be one of the most respected and largest collections in the world. Today, their cellar contains more than 6,800 different selections with more than half a million bottles. Bern’s Wine Cellar is the perennial recipient of the Wine Spectator Grand Award, the magazine’s highest honor bestowed upon restaurants that display an uncompromising and passionate commitment to quality. According to Wine Spectator, “these lists show serious depth of mature vintages, outstanding breadth in their vertical offerings, excellent harmony with the menu, superior organization and presentation, and 1,250 or more selections.” Whether you are an expert or a novice, Bern’s Wine Cellar will truly impress you — with more than 6,800 unique wine labels, 5,500 red wines, 1,000 white wines and more than 200 sparkling wines. In addition, they feature about 300 Madeiras, Ports and Sherries by the glass, as well as 200 table wines served by the glass with vintages to 1973.
No matter where on the globe you are you need to make the trip to Tampa and visit Bern’s Steakhouse. Perfectly aged steaks, one of the largest wine collections in the world, an internationally famous dessert room, wine cellar and kitchen tours available for all guests from experienced, professional and personable staff. Each visit to Bern’s Steak House takes you on a gastronomic adventure that defines Bern’s not as a meal but as an experience. It truly is a very unique culinary experience!
To make reservations go to:
Bern’s Steak House
1208 South Howard Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33606
- Sunday to Thursday
- 5pm – 10pm
- Friday & Saturday
- 5pm – 11pm