Recently, I had the pleasure of dining at one of the state’s best steakhouses. Surprisingly, it was located in a casino.
Council Oak Steaks & Seafood offered such an amazing meal that my husband and I are still talking about it weeks later.
In fact, the whole place – the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tampa – was pretty amazing. There’s the newly expanded casino, home to a poker room, high-limit gaming, slots and more than 90 tables of blackjack, baccarat, three-card poker and more.
There are five sophisticated bars, a Hard Rock Café with live entertainment nightly and a big show monthly (such as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, coming up Wednesday), plus a diverse selection of additional restaurants.
In short, this is the type of hotel (an AAA Four-Diamond hotel, by the way) where you could stay for several days and never leave the property. There’s that much to do.
As for Council Oak, this place was elegant and romantic, with a gleaming kitchen you could see through huge glass windows. My husband and I decided to “roll the dice” and hand our menu choices over to the head chef. We were treated to some of the restaurant’s best, most popular menu items and everything we ate was delicious.
In fact, after trying Twin Australian Cold Water Lobster Tails (called the sweetest lobster in the world) for the first time, my husband has pretty much sworn off all others. Now when I suggest lobster for dinner, he says no, he’s been spoiled. Nothing else will ever live up.
We went “all in” on the entrees and also tried the Dry Aged Lamb Chops and the 24-ounce Long Bone Cowboy Ribeye (check out the photo - the chef carved “VISIT FLORIDA” right into the bone for us!)
For appetizers, we were “dealt” a special – Barbecued Sea Scallops, atop pork hash with hollandaise sauce, as well as Stuffed Clams and Council Oak Crab Cakes. We tried two salads – a special Chopped Salad and my favorite, Baby Iceberg Salad, which featured a head of baby iceberg lettuce, crumbled blue cheese, tomato, red onion and a thick slab of bacon that was cured and smoked in-house.
The sides – Council Oak Corn (grilled with bacon), Lobster Mac & Cheese, and a huge Onion Ring Stack – were spectacular and could have been meals all by themselves. And dessert, one of the best parts of the evening, featured a perfect Chocolate Soufflé as well as the Council Oak 151 Volcano, which is vanilla bean ice cream covered with Heath Bar crunch and flambéed tableside with a shot of 151 rum. This was so good I would love to try to recreate it, although I doubt I would be successful.
Basically, I will forever be racking my brain for excuses to get back here. I would recommend this place to anyone – even those who don’t eat steak, as the seafood and other menu items here are just as great as the red meat. In fact, the atmosphere and service alone are worth a visit.