When is $81 for a Steak a Good Deal?

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I finally got an opportunity to have the full Bern’s Steakhouse experience this week!

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida entrance

I planned ahead and so when my dad dropped me off in Tampa for my flight, we had  reservations for 8:30. It was busy, but not as overwhelming as my first time visit when I checked out the Harry Waugh Dessert Room. I also learned that this was where my parents had come for their engagement dinner. 🙂

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida entrance doors

We were seated immediately and I was presented with my main purpose in coming. The massive wine list!

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida Keri Wine List

It was overwhelming and I made a poor dinner companion as I could scarcely focus on the food menu for perusing the pages looking for the perfect bottle!

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida Wine book

But we managed to order an appetizer of  charcoal-grilled shrimp with creamed corn, beurre blanc, and herb oil. Our awesome waiter Adam, brought us a perfect pairing of Laurant Tribut Chablis by the glass.

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida Grilled Shrimp

I still hadn’t managed to figure out a bottle to go with our steak course, but furious texts to friends had helped me narrow down our options to a few regions. Bern’s amazing selection and value is mostly French wines, something I know very little about yet.

I zeroed in on a few — vintage Cornas priced for less than the current years were selling at retail, a shockingly cheap Chateauneuf du Pape from 1985. Our waiter had been so helpful (later I found out you have to train for 12 months), I asked for his advice.

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida Chateaunaf du pape

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida Cornas list

They were out of the Chateauneuf du Pape, but he thought Cornas would be a good choice and said he’d bring us a bottle. It turned out to be a 1981 vintage for ~$30. Who knew I’d be able to afford a wine worth drinking from that year!

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida 1981 Cornas

And during this time the many courses that came with our steak were arriving. When I first saw the steak menu I was a little overwhelmed. I have been to some nice steakhouses, but I still blanch a little bit at the thought of spending $81 on a steak, even if I was sharing it with my dad. Because I had seen there were sides you could order for an additional fee, I assumed that everything was a la carte.

Boy was a wrong! And boy is Bern’s a great value! All of this for $40.50 a person?

Some of the most amazing French Onion soup I’ve had with garlic bread and spelt bread with honey.

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida French Onion Soup

An enormous salad with fresh greens from their farm and our choice of 8 freshly prepared dressing.

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida House Salad

And then the steak! We ordered the 19oz strip steak. It’s served without the bone and without fat, which means all 19 oz is edible! And they give you a little chunk of filet to make up for the tail of the strip that’s taken off. The steak was cut lengthwise so we both had the full steak experience.

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida 19 oz strip

There was a sweet carrot side, fresh green beans with garlic and soy, and the greatest onion rings I’ve ever had. I don’t really care for onion rings but these were crispy and salty and I had a hard time deciding what my next bite would be.

Oh! And I almost forgot. In addition there was a fully loaded baked potato which blew my mind and I’m not a big baked potato fan.

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida baked potato

When the check came I couldn’t believe that the steak with trimmings, appetizer, 2 glasses of wine, and a bottle from 1981 was only $200. This has to be one of the best fine dining values out there!

After dinner we got to take a tour of the enormous kitchen! At this point it was 10:30 and everything was being cleaned up, I’d like to go again when it’s in full action.

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida Kitchen Tour

It was really cool and I enjoyed seeing the “cheese cave” and even where they grow their own sprouts. And then it was time for wine cellar portion!

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida Sprouts

We walked through the area where the wines by the glass bottles are kept, down some stairs, and into the cellar which stays 48 to 50 degrees all year round. WOW.

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida wine cellar

We got to see the section of the more expensive bottles — one of which sells for $30,000.

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida Wine Cellar Aisle

And after passing over a dozen aisles of wine, we learned that they have a warehouse across the street where the majority of the bottles are kept. I had not expected to enjoy the tour so much and it wound up being one of the highlights!

We waffled over whether to go to the dessert room, but decided we might be able to squeeze in a shared dessert. This time I was not seated in the piano room, instead we were put in one of the traditional booths that featured the phone to call the pianist or switch the music to one of 5 channels.

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida Keri Dad Harry Waugh

As cool as it was, I found myself preferring my first table. Because everyone can choose their own music, we could hear snatches of modern music, classical, etc all from the surrounding tables and it was rather distracting. But we had good service and ordered the banana cheese mousse pie to split.

Bern's Steakhouse Tampa Florida banana cheese pie

We also took advantage of the amazing wines by the glass list — Dad ordering a 1980 Cotes du Rhone (only $4.40 a glass!!) and I went with an ’09 Vieux Lazaret Chateauneuf du Pape.

A good time was had by all!


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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel


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