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Old 12-31-2009, 04:04 AM   #1
cbg1027
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Smile A Drinker and a Dessert Fiend Dine Around Disney - Completed 11/20!

Hello and welcome to my second dining report!

I'm Abby, your dining reporter (the dessert fiend). I was assisted in my research for this piece by my friend Mark (the drinker).

I'll make this intro short and sweet, because we all know why you're here: The Food!

Upcoming installments will include:

La Cava del Tequila
Restaurant Marrakesh
End Zone Food Court
Yak and Yeti
Boma and Jiko Culinary Tour
Boma Dinner
The Hollywood Brown Derby
Narcoossee's
The Crystal Palace Breakfast
Cosmic Ray's
Citricos
Columbia Harbour House
California Grill
Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory
Coral Reef
Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop
Le Cellier
'Ohana Breakfast

And a bonus non-Disney restaurant - Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa FL
Bern's Part 1 - The Primer
Bern's Part 2 - Dinner!
Bern's Part 3 - The Kitchen and Wine Cellar Tour
Bern's Part 4 - The Dessert Room


Stay tuned, you won't want to miss this!

Last edited by cbg1027; 11-20-2010 at 03:56 PM.
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Old 12-31-2009, 04:15 AM   #2
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Well, I am in! Bring on the sweets and drinks! PLEASE ............
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Old 12-31-2009, 10:22 AM   #4
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I'm in... looking forward to the desserts!
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Old 12-31-2009, 11:59 AM   #5
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Joining in. I love dessert so much that I sometimes ask the server bring it with the meal.
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Old 12-31-2009, 03:45 PM   #6
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Love your lineups! Especially when you place Tequilla on top this list brings quite a lot of oos and ahhs from my DH.
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Old 12-31-2009, 06:43 PM   #8
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I'm in, looking forward to it!
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Old 12-31-2009, 08:51 PM   #9
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I am looking forward to you reviews.
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Old 01-01-2010, 05:59 AM   #10
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Thanks for joining in everyone!

I wrote half of my first review, and I hope to finish the rest soon, so I will get it up ASAP!
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Old 01-02-2010, 04:05 AM   #11
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12/11 - Bern's Steakhouse, Part 1

Since our first meal of the trip was the "bonus", I am beginning the report with it! The meal was very long, so I'm breaking the review down in to several parts!

Our trip began with a pre-Disney stopover in the Tampa Bay area. I have some friends, Caitlin and Jun, who are from Clearwater. Earlier in the year, Caitlin and I concocted the idea that we should go to dinner at Bern's, one of the top steakhouses in the country. She and Jun had had their wedding dinner there in April 2008, and have been talking about it ever since! I had actually been there a few times before when I was young, so I was familiar with it, but didn't have any appreciation for it. I didn't even like red meat back then. Oh my, how my tastes have changed!

My travel buddy, Mark, is at heart a meat and potatoes guy, so he was very excited about a steakhouse stop-over!

We were joined by Caitlin's friends, Laura and Joey. So we were a party of 6.

Unfortunately, I did not take any food photos at Bern's. I know, I know, what is wrong with me? I felt a little funny about taking food photos there, but I promise the rest of reviews will have plenty of visual stimuli!
Bern's is housed in this plain white, boxy, non-descript building. There is just a small sign out front. Not a place you would look twice at when driving by. But once you step inside, the 'plain' description no longer applies. The place is decorated rather sumptuously. I'd call it Baroque-light. The waiters wear black tuxedos and they have an actual dress code for the customers.

To get an idea of the inside, here is a photo I took while we waited for Joey and Laura to arrive:

That's Caitlin, her husband Jun, and Mark.

Once Laura and Joey got there, were were seated. Bern's is quite the affair, so unless you're a regular, you have to get a Bern's menu 101 from your server before you can even think about placing an order. I was a good student and studied with Caitlin beforehand...ok, well, for almost 2 months before.

Here is your Bern's menu Cliff Notes (concerning the steaks....there are pages and pages of other items too!):
First you choose your cut - Filet Mignon, Chateaubriand, Strip Sirloin (NY Strip), DelMonico (Rib-Eye), Porterhouse, and T-Bone.
All the steaks are dry-aged and cut to order.

Then you have to consider how much steak you want, how you want it cooked, and how must of a crust you want on it.

Dry-aged meats are tender and not bloody like fresh meat, so Bern's does not recommend getting their steaks cooked more than Medium because they will become tough.
If you want fresh steak, they have that too though.

There are EIGHT levels of doneness to choose from, depending on the color, temperatue, and crust you'd like.

The steaks come in various sizes. After so many ounces of a certain cut, it's considered enough to serve two people. I'm told that it's best to order a larger steak and serve many people from it because you get more of the inside that way.

You also have the option of adding a sauce or topping to your steak at an additional price.

All of Bern's steaks come with the follwing sides, included in the price:
French Onion Soup au Gratin served with Garlic and Spelt Toasts
Steakhouse Salad with your choice of house-made dressing
Steakhouse Baked Potato with Butter, Sour Cream, Chives, and Crumbled Bacon
Steakhouse Onion Rings
Bern's Farm Vegetable Tasting

You can order other side items a la carte, but they do not do substitutions, you just have to pay for the item(s). You are still welcome to have the included sides as well though.

I decided to forgo wine with my dinner in hopes of having Champagne with dessert, so Caitlin and I shared a bottle of Pellegrino.

I do have the mention the wine at Bern's though. 'Wine list' is a bit of a misnomer here - on every table there is a wine texbook! They have over 6,800 selections. The server said it is the largest privately-owned wine list in the world. There are 3 in-house Sommeliers that you can call to discuss wine selections with before your meal.

Mark ordered a Bordeaux by the glass at dinner. I don't recall what it was, but it sure tasted good to me. Apparently Mark reaaaallly liked it - he had 3 glasses!

Laura ordered a glass of some sort of white wine, but I don't remember what it was.

Laura and Joey are actually vegetarians. Why they agreed to come to an expensive steak house with us I don't know. But I will say, their food looked delicious!

Laura had a Goat Cheese Ravioli and Joey had the Vegetarian Special of the Day - a GORGEOUS looking stuffed Acorn Squash.

So what did I get? Steak of course! But to find out which kind, you'll have to wait!

Part 2 coming soon!
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Old 01-02-2010, 08:24 AM   #12
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Hey,I'm droolin' here! Where's the steak??????
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Old 01-02-2010, 10:36 AM   #13
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I'm in!!! what a great line-up!!
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Old 01-02-2010, 12:21 PM   #14
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Looking foward to your reviews.
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Old 01-02-2010, 10:28 PM   #15
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Bern's, Part 2

Right back to things:
Sometimes, Bern's offers a "Special" Chateaubriand, which is aged even longer than the regular Chateaubriand. I was hoping they would have this offering on the night I went. Caitlin had agreed that if they did, she and I would order a larger portion and share it.

Unfortunately, Bern's did not have the "Special" that night, so I went with my back up plan and got the smallest portion (7oz) of regular Chateaubriand offered. This is like a filet in that it comes from the tenderloin, but where a filet is cooked with the grain running up and down towards the grill, a Chateaubriand is cooked with the grain going horizontally.

Originally I was thinking I would order my steak medium rare, like I always do. But at the last minute when placing my order, I went with what amounts to a 4 on Bern's 1-8 scale of doneness. "Rare with a warm red center and small crust". Medium rare is a 5 on the Bern's scale.

I also opted for a side of Bearnaise sauce with my steak.

After the complicated task of placing 6 people's orders, we finally got to start eating!

The first course brought out was the soup. I LOVE French Onion soup, so I was excited about this. When the server put the bowl down in front of me, I had a moment of disappointment because it was a tiny portion. I then remembered I had a 7oz steak with tons of other sides on the way.
The soup itself was excellent. Onions so thin they were almost dissolved in the flavorful broth. Just the way onion soup should be! The top of the bowl is gratineed with a Swiss cheese. That part wasn't quite to my liking though. When I hear "gratineed", I think of a slice of crusty bread and Gruyere cheese on my soup. This just had the Swiss melted over the top in a thick layer. It was also not cooked as much as I would prefer. I like to see some brown spots on that cheese! I still enjoyed the dish very much though.

As I was finishing my soup, our server arrived with a huge tray full of lots of bowls. Four of us opted for the Ceasar instead of the house salad. They're made tableside! The server makes one huge salad and then dishes it out from that. Our server first chopped up some anchovies in to tiny pieces. Then he added the other dressing ingredients - olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, fresh cracker pepper....and I don't remember what else! Uggggh I wish I gotten over myself and taken those photos!
The server then tosses Romaine lettuce with the dressing, parmesan cheese, and croutons. Voila....tableside Ceasar Salad!

The salad was excellent. I love a good Ceasar salad and this one was one of the best I've ever had. The dressing was so good - simple and strong! The croutons were nice - crispy, crunchy, and no doubt made in house.

After our salads were finished, the real star of the show arrived - The Steak!

My gorgeous little Chateaubriand was in the middle of a large off white oval plate, but we'll get back to that in a minute!

On one side of the steak were the Onion Rings. Now these are not what you're thinking of. The onions are sliced about the width of a pencil and then battered and fried. They were the best onion rings I've ever had! The batter is very spice-laden, so it's different than a regular onion ring. They were crispy and hot and stringy so it was easier to eat them with a fork.

To the left of my steak was the "Farm Vegetable Tasting". Bern's grows most of their vegetables on their own organic farm outside Tampa, so everything is fresh, in-season, and wonderful! That night the selections were:
Grated Carrots with sliced almonds in a cherry-Grand Marnier marinade
and
Pole and Wax Beans with a Soy-esque sauce
(Neither one of those were the official names, it's just what I can remember!)

The carrots were very good. They were very recently grated and full of sweet and tart flavor. They were blanched enough that the flavor was brought out, but the crisp crunch of carrot was still there. The almonds were a nice texture surprise, and their flavor blended really well.

The Beans were my favorite though. Pole beans are basically large green beans, and wax beans look like white pole beans. These were amazing. The sauce was similar in flavor and consistency to soy sauce, but there was something different about the flavor that I can't describe. They were awesomely delicious and I ate all of mine and some of Mark's (he's not big on green stuff ).

In a separate dish was my baked potato. I'm not big on bacon or sour cream, so I got mine with just butter and chives. It was a large russet-type potato and it was good....but it was a baked potato. I was using the space in my stomach for the more unique offerings.

In another little dish was my Bearnaise Sauce. And it was excellent! I lived in France for about a year while working as an au pair. The mom in the family I lived with made Bearnaise sauce whenever we had steak for dinner, and Bern's version tasted EXACTLY like Pascale's. It really took me back and it tasted wonderful, especially on....

My STEAK! My steak was uh-maze-ing. It was so tender, so easy to chew, so melt in your mouth. I've never had anything like it before. It was juicy, but none of the stuff on the plate was red and bloody. The outside was a tad crusty and seasoned with garlic butter. Perfection in a hunk of steak! Where is my drooling emoticon????

Mark had the 11oz DelMonico, medium, with Blue Cheese. It looked great, and the cheese on top was really nice - very bluish and veiny - lots of good mold! It took him a long time, but Mark ate every single bite of that steak.

Caitlin and Jun shared a 20oz Sirloin, very rare. It it weren't for the fact that it was aged, I'd call it still mooing! Jun is Japanese, so he likes his meat practically alive! I tried it though, and the Sirloin was very good. The aging really makes a difference in how "raw" the steak seems.....so this was delicious.

At one point in the meal, I looked over at Jun. He had his eyes closed and his head kind of rolled back as he chewed on a piece of steak. It was so funny....but I have to say, his unbridled adoration of his meal was pretty much how everyone was feeling!

Caitlin is already jonesing to go back to Bern's. I told her maybe at the end of the semester again.

Coming up next: The Kitchen and Wine Cellar Tour and, if you're lucky, the Dessert Room! (Yes, they have a separate place you go to eat dessert!)
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