March 07, 2011

Bern's Steak House

Bern Laxer traveled the world collecting art and wine. He left behind a legacy of perfection for us to enjoy – the best steaks, the best wine, and the best restaurant in Tampa Bay. I love learning about Bern’s Steak House (I even read a book about it) and I love eating there even more.

Bern's is filled with beautiful artwork from around the world

The location of Bern’s was once a mall. Each of the themed dining rooms was once a store in the mall. As the stores closed up, Bern bought the space and added to what we now know as the restaurant. Artwork lines the tall walls of the lobby, and the whole restaurant has an old French feel to it with deep reds and golds. I once asked if they do tours for all of the art in the building, but was sadly told that they do not. If they do start offering this, I would love to learn about where (and how) Bern gathered such great art!

A glimpse of the lobby - adorned with portraits and  chandeliers

Servers at Bern’s must go through extensive training before they ever make it on to the floor solo. Ask your waiter how long he or she has worked at Bern’s and you’ll find out some have been there as long as 20 years. A 12% service fee is automatically added on to your bill at the end of the evening, as the wage for your server. Even while waiting in the lounge area, you will find an attentive member of the wait staff ready to assist at any moment.

Porterhouse - Cut and cooked to order
8oz Filet with crispy fried onions and seasonal vegetables

Steak is the masterpiece at Bern’s. Any and every size of steak you could want is available, as you can see in your thorough menu. I order the 8oz Filet mignon medium, which is so tender it tastes like butter. Unlike your typical chain steakhouse, your side items are not served a la carte. A steak at Bern’s includes: soup, house salad, baked potato prepared tableside, crispy fried onions, and seasonal vegetables.

Delicious French Onion Soup au Gratin

French onion soup au gratin is the default soup with your meal, but Maine Lobster Bisque and Vichyssoise are available for an additional charge. The lobster bisque is good, but of course very rich and heavy. The French onion soup is topped with a thick layer of broiled cheese. I’ve never been a fan of onions, but between the French onion soup and fried onions, Bern’s makes me a believer. The soup is served with garlic and spelt toasts.

Server preparing the table-side Caesar salad
Completed Caesar salad
House salad with Thousand Island dressing

My absolute favorite part of the meal (if one can choose such a thing at Bern’s) is the house salad. The house salad features a homemade dressing (thousand island for me) and different types of organically grown vegetables, including: avocado, onion, red pepper, carrots, spouts, and black olives. I wish there was a way I could eat one of their salads every day. Alternatively, you can order a Caesar salad prepared tableside for $10.95. This process takes at least 10 minutes, but it is worth it to have a real traditional Caesar salad, instead of the pre-packaged kind you find at airports.

Baked potato with butter, sour cream, chives, and bacon

Your baked potato is also prepared tableside. You can choose from any combination of butter, sour cream, chives, and bacon for your potato. I go with ‘all of the above’ for a delicious side. You’ve all had a steak before, but unless you’ve had one of Bern’s aged steaks, you are missing out.

One of the many dining rooms at Bern's

After dinner, be sure to take the wine cellar and kitchen tour. I’ve taken it twice now, and have learned a lot both times. It’s truly amazing to think that Bern’s has over 1 million bottles of wine in their inventory – including a double magnum of 1947 Chateau Latour valued at $30,000. Most recently, we learned that Bern’s makes all of their own steel and paper products.

Love wine? Bern's has got a bottle just for you.

I could go on all day about my love of Bern’s Steak House. It is truly the best steak (and restaurant) in Tampa Bay – possibly even in the state of Florida. It is often rated one of the top steakhouses in the country. There is no doubt that Bern’s son, David Laxer, is doing an excellent job at running the restaurant and keeping the legacy running. I’m sure that Bern is very proud!

Bern's Steak House on Urbanspoon


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