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What to Expect When Dining at Bern’s Steak House in Tampa

To help you navigate the enormous menu, here's what’s included when you order a steak

Bern’s dining room / Photo: Courtesy of Amy Pezzicara

Primarily known for its extensive wine collection and wonderfully aged steaks, Bern’s Steak House is also renowned for its world-famous Harry Waugh Dessert Room. Back in 1986, I was invited with a group of noted food writers to have dinner with Bern Laxer shortly after he launched this treasured space. During the evening, he proudly detailed how the idea originated from a visit he and his wife, Gert, had made to the home of Harry Waugh, the famed director of the Chateau Latour winery. Following their meal, they were taken to the drawing room for après-dinner drinks, cheese and conversation. Inspired by this hospitality, the Harry Waugh Dessert Room was created on the restaurant’s second floor, featuring 48 private booths nestled in antique wine casks for intimate conversation while sipping whiskeys and aged cognacs. Among the more than two dozen made-from-scratch desserts is everyone’s favorite—and mine—macadamia-nut sundae, served on a vanilla waffle cone bowl with freshly whipped cream, house-made macadamia-nut ice cream, macadamia nuts and Valrhona chocolate hot fudge.

Steak with crispy onion rings and seasonal vegetables / Photo: Courtesy of Bern’s Steak House

To help you navigate the enormous menu, let me explain what’s included when you order a steak. First, decide the size of your dry-aged meat—selections include filet mignon, chateaubriand, Delmonico, strip steak, porterhouse, T-bone and such specialty cuts as A5 Japanese Wagyu strip, A5 Japanese Wagyu filet mignon and 100-day-aged Delmonico. Your entrée includes a hearty cup of caramelized French onion soup and a house salad (with phenomenal dressing choices), baked potato with condiments, crispy fried onion rings, and steamed seasonal vegetables.

And then there are the à la carte appetizer must-haves: dry-aged chateaubriand carpaccio served with verjus vinaigrette, arugula and truffle aioli, and poached cold Maine lobster, chopped and mixed in a sweet passion-fruit mayonnaise with avocado in the shell, a dish reminiscent of New World cuisine. A comprehensive caviar menu, offering the best American and imported sturgeon eggs, educates and satisfies, as does the selection of cheeses, both added to the bill of fare to entice curiosity and adventure. Seasonal entrées include chestnut- and brioche-stuffed quails with foie gras velouté, tomato-braised lamb shank with gigantes beans and feta cheese, and a sumptuous spicy lobster tagliatelle. A stay at the Epicurean, an Autograph Collection Hotel conveniently across the street, assures a full immersion in the vibrant SoHo district, where fashion, food and wine merge into one.