Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bern's Steak House - Hyde Park, FL

Disappointment is what I experienced after a trip to Bern's, and I felt reminded a bit of the children's story the "Emperor's New Clothes." Yes, there is red velvet everywhere, but I found the lack of windows a bit claustrophobic and the way diners were packed in there, it was hard to hear each other at our table. It looked more like mess hall for young recruits, and it is not a good pick for something intimate like a date. As for our server, I felt he was rude to us in a subtle way, as well as to the busgirl. Another thing I noticed was the servers appeared to be men over the age of fifty(not anything wrong with the age, but I didn't see a representation of younger people or women servers).

Now, on to the drinks and food. Yes, Bern's has a humongous wine list, but a smaller and more select wine list, especially for the wines by the glass, might be in order. We tried two different reds and two different whites from France, which were nice, except I could not tell the difference in serving temperature between the red and white(the whites were both served at room temperature). We started off with caviar and an order of potato blinis, which was nice. Next, we tried the french onion soup and the lobster bisque, both of which were nice, but nothing exceptional. Then, we tried the salad which had a lot of different vegetables and that was good, but unless you are wild about salad, why not save room for the main course because that salad was almost a meal in itself. Finally, the entrees arrived. First, there was the porterhouse steak which is served with steakhouse onion rings, vegetables, and a baked potato with fixings. The steak was fine, but not the out of this world steak experience that I was expecting. The onion rings tasted fine, but I would not suggest more than a taste because they were rich and made to kill the appetite when eating steak. The presentation of the food was blah, which I don't mind if the food can stand by itself, but nothing was exceptional. Wanting to see how Bern's non-steak entrees stood up, I also tried the charcoal grilled wild salmon and the yellowtail snapper a la plancha. Of the two fish dishes, I preferred the salmon and felt the snapper was boring.

Finally, the dessert, which deserves its own paragraph because this was my favorite part of Bern's. Each dining party is given their own little room with a table in the dessert room upstairs. There, you can experience the intimacy missing in the downstairs dining rooms. Order your favorite after dinner drink and pick a dessert from their large dessert menu. We ordered the macadamia nut sundae, for which they are famous, and the chocolate cake Jones. Both desserts were very good, and if I could have skipped the whole downstairs dining experience and just came for dessert, that would have suited me fine. All in all, try Bern's once to see how you feel about this landmark steakhouse, but it would not be a place I would go for a special or intimate event.

1208 South Howard Avenue
Hyde Park, FL 33606

Bern's Steak House on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Great review, We have heard that Bern's is dated, a tired old restuarant living on it's reputation. Your review was thoughtful and very well written. I just wish we had discovered it before we at there because your review is dead on. We found ourselves just staring at a wall -- a definite lack of atmosphere, tight tables, strange seating, and you're right only the dessert room gives you the set up you'd expect at a restaurant like that. I realize that Bern's is a Tampa tradition, but time has passed this tradition by.

Anonymous said...

Your a food critic/reviewer? Really? Too bad you didn't pay attention. Berns has a wine list by the glass, nearly 200 selections. Berns does have female waiters and more than have under 50. Obviously, you didn't care to take a walk through their kitchen and wine cellar which virtually no other restaurant wants you to do. You could have seen the effort and manpower that goes into the dinners. Bet you didn't notice that the dinner was inclusive of the soup, salad, potato, onion rings for the price of the steak. Of all the times I have dined there it has been exceptional. Yea, OK, sometimes it is noisy, its a public place. You want quiet, stay home and grill. This will not make it onto your blog, but maybe your next review of any restaurant will pretend to be with open eyes. BTW, bet you didn't know that the waiters train four two years before they get to serve you.

Kelly said...

Dear Anonymous of December 2,

I suspect you in fact knew that this post would make it onto my blog because as everyone knows, there is a blogging law that bloggers MUST post a comment as long as the commenter invokes the "this will not make it onto your blog" privilege, which fortunately for us bloggers is a little known privilege;)

Usually, I don't post highly negative comments from anonymous posters directed at my blog because it is too easy to sling mud without giving a name and a profile. When I post about restaurants, my face is out there and I am not hiding. Also, I don't usually post negative comments about restaurants, if they seem full of over-the-top negativity. Urbanspoon exists to give diners an informed dining choice and restaurants the chance to learn if they are doing things right or wrong.

Now I would respond to you by saying too bad YOU didn't pay attention. On the about me on my blog, I write that I am NOT a food critic or reviewer. I write about my experiences dining at restaurants and I have written about my experiences dining at over 200 restaurants. Potential diners can read my blog as well as the comments of other diners, bloggers, and critics on urbanspoon and make an informed choice. There is a mix of various experiences by diners at Bern's of which a lot are good and a fair amount are negative.

I just know what MY experience was the night I was at Bern's. I observed the waitstaff the night I was there and it may be different on other nights, but I know what it was that night and I did think my waiter was rude and condescending compared to other places I have dined. And I did not say Bern's wine list wasn't large enough, on the contrary, I said it was TOO LARGE for wines by the glass. I am all for a large wines by the bottle selection, but not by the glass. Once a bottle of wine is opened, that wine is not the same purchase 24 hours later and with that many wines by the glass the turnover on some bottles is not going to be that great. My big complaint about the wine was the two glasses of white wine which I ordered were the same temperature as the two glasses of red. As most people would agree, the serving temperature of white and red wine are not the same.

As I read over your comment and the language, or advertising, I have my suspicions who wrote this comment, which I will not share because you wrote an anonymous comment and I would not want to make any unfounded accusations. And yes, Bern's was noisy and crowded in a not pleasant way. I like the normal, pleasant hum of conversation that I experience most of the time when dining out.

In closing audience, I rarely write negative posts about restaurants, but I was a bit hard on Bern's because of the big build up I had hearing about this local icon of dining. While there are many like anonymous of DEC 2nd who have had positive experiences at Bern's, there are many like me who are left wondering what all the fuss is about. Bern's and other diners are free to discard my experience and others who had not such a great time, or they can use it to take a look at themselves and see if they maybe have been slipping.... Except for the dessert room, which I said was good. That's all folks!

Miami Beach said...

For anyone that doesn't know....go to the bar and have the most amazing steak sandwich or steak burger for less than 13 dollars. Yes, it's difficult eating in the lounge if you're sitting on the couches, but really, it's so good, who cares?