Restaurant Review: Bern’s Steak House (Tampa)

by Anthony Losanno
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Bern’s Steak House is a Tampa institution with one of the world’s largest wine lists and steaks cut to order since 1956. We had been eyeing having a meal here for some time and finally got the opportunity last week. The restaurant can seat up to 350 guests with space for 48 more in the Dessert Room.

Anthony’s Take: We had a great meal at Bern’s Steak House. It’s easy to see why it has been such a revered part of Tampa’s culinary scene for over 60 years. The Dessert Room concept and kitchen tour are nice additions. They make dining here feel even more special.

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Dining at Bern’s is an experience that starts as soon as you step through the front door. The lobby has a bit of an old-world castle vibe (maybe even akin to Dracula’s castle) with fabric-lined walls and tons of framed art.

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The upstairs is known as the Dessert Room. Separate reservations can be made and you’re guaranteed one with your dinner. Bern’s also offers every guest a kitchen and wine cellar tour between dinner and dessert.

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We had to wait around 10 minutes for our table and were able to take in all of the sights of the lobby.

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There is art tucked everywhere you look.

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There are multiple dining rooms and Bern’s expanded greatly through the years.

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The menu has everything you would expect in a classic steakhouse. We both knew coming in that we were having steaks. One unique aspect is that steaks are served with French onion soup, a salad with your choice of homemade dressing, a baked potato, green beans, and onion rings. We’ve been to so many steakhouses where every side and accompaniment is a la carte.

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We started with the Blackened Slab Bacon with apple and sage. It was delicious and quickly disappeared.

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Our French onion soup arrived shortly after.

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I like that Bern’s also serves additional toasted bread.

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The salad came next. We both selected French dressing.

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The steaks came next. I ordered an eight-ounce filet mignon and added Foie Gras. It was rich and delicious.

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Bern’s has one of the largest wine collections in the world. We tried several reds and a Brut Rose. It’s daunting to choose a glass let alone a bottle. The rarest and most expensive bottle is an 1845 Chateau Gruaud-Larose Bordeaux that costs $49,000

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After dinner, we paid our check and then were led into the kitchen for our tour. This is a massive operation with up to 150 people working at a time. Servers take years of training here through a program that has them working their way up. The staff all have different colored ties and those dictate their seniority.

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I love that Bern’s takes guests right into a working kitchen. It’s a well-run machine and impressive to experience.

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Onions are sliced throughout the day. Bern’s serves thousands of gallons of soup each year.

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We were even able to see some steaks being grilled. Bern’s uses natural hardwood lump charcoal for its steaks (they’re dry aged five to eight weeks in house).

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After the kitchen tour we were led into the wine cellar.

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There was so much wine and all meticulously catalogued and organized.

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Wines by the glass are also found here.

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The most expensive bottle of wine is noted above. One other special bottle that was highlighted on the tour is this 2012 (six liter) Penfold’s Grange Syrah from Australia. The bottle was gifted to the restaurant with the arrangement that it needs to hold it until 2062 before drinking. While the bottle was complimentary, the decanter cost $125,000.

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After the tour, we were led upstairs to our table in the Harry Waugh Dessert Room. Each wine-barrel booth is private and includes a phone for requesting songs to be played.

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We were pretty full but had to have dessert. I ordered the Vintage Chocolate Lush Sundae. It was tasty.

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My husband had the Black Forest Trifle. He enjoyed it as well.

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We then went back down and out to our car.

Overall Impression:

Bern’s deserves its accolades and reputation. It’s a solid steakhouse with unique decor, excellent service, and a loyal following. We’ll be back again.

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1 comment

JakePB March 3, 2024 - 12:37 pm

Couldn’t agree more with all of your positivity about this true gem of the Tampa area. We’ve been to all of the “it” steakhouses in the area, and to us – Bern’s stands head and shoulders above the rest…now if something could be done about their reservation system…


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