Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa....an Update
I know this is one of the most storied restaurants in Florida....a venerable institution....one to which I have eagerly gone dozens of times since the early 1970's (from out of town, not a local)
I have always praised it and disagreed vehemently with those who put it down. Years ago I visited Bern in his office and talked for a few minutes...have toured the wine cellar, the meat locker (now off limits) and kitchen. Bern's (the restaurant, not of course the late Mr. Laxer) total devotion to excellence is unsurpassed. Ordering the sour cream from New York, aging the meat, roasting the coffee, making the ice cream, etc. etc. and so forth.
However, a visit Saturday makes me wonder if it is finally slipping. Admittedly, being there at 8 on a Saturday night is not like 5:30 on a Wednesday. First, the room had one or two too many tables in it. The waitstaff could hardly move around. A tray with full wine glasses was knocked over by a waitress and spilled on one our party's back.
The crabcake apps were just okay. Barely any sauce and kind of mushy. Friend's scallops were raved over, but I didn't taste. Salads were wonderful....always excellent.
Steaks finally arrived and for first time ever, not cooked properly. Medium rare NY strip was at least medium if not more. Great flavor, but a shame for such a nice piece of meat.
Ribeye, ordered medium rare, was cooked almost well on one side and medium on the other. Interior of meat was half grey and half pink. Filet tips ordered medium looked well done. Why not send them back? You are really half way through before one decides that it is indeed overcooked, and it is now nearly 9 and let's just finish it. I know that dry aged beef does not ooze much juice but this was dry....not a drop of juice on the plate half way through the steak.
And the wine? Since three of the five were non-drinkers, we opted for the excellent by the glass option. Only problem, it arrived half-way through the steak. It was great, however and I immediately ordered another glass. "For when?" queried the waiter. "For now" said I, knowing that I wanted it with the meal, not after.
Desserts were good, but the hot fudge on a King Midas now swings an extra buck charge.
At any rate, I left disappointed for once out of many, many times over the decades. I felt let down by an old friend. Any other similar feelings??
I live in Maryland and have been to Bern's about 100 times in the past 10 years. I too, had my first two disappointing experiences last week. I was in Tampa for three nights and went to Bern's twice (Sunday and Monday).
The service has slipped a notch. I always request the salad without eggs, and had to send it back. The steak was excellent, but the Cappuchino Bern's came out lukewarm both evenings. It just seemed that the coordination was off. I was so disappointed that my favorite dessert -- the triology of mousse, is no more. You would think that after a heavy meal, there could be some dessert options on the lighter side. The key lime pie that I had instead was just ok - - the blackberry sorbet that accompanies it was the best part.
Bern's has slipped from an A to a B+ for the first time ever.
I had similar feelings about a year ago Steakman, but I visited in April and again on the Friday before Thanksgiving and had wonderful meals both times. In fact I felt it had dramatically improved since last year where I had 2 meals in a row that were quite disappointing. We had 6 in our party everything was cooked to proper temp, apps of shrimp and oysters were excellent and ice cold. Salad was fresh and dressings still good as ever. I still hate the carrot "mush" but that has always been a given. My Okinawa potato was as good as always, and as i said before the strip (16oz) was perfectly cooked.
I can't respond on the wine or liquor since I do not drink nor does my companion but our friends had no issues with their selections.
Desert room menu has been updated since last year and I believe markedly improved in available choices compared to before. I do believ the added charge is bogus.
Overall I have been extremely happy with my last 2 visits whereas I had almost given up on her last year.
You might give the old lady one last shot to win you back, Iknow I am glad I did!