Monday, August 18, 2014

Council Oak at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

Council Oak Steaks and Seafood is one of seven restaurants located in Seminole Hard Rock Tampa.  We live a few miles away from Hard Rock and this was our first (not last) time dining there. I have heard many great things about Council Oak and the word on the street lived up to the hype. This was hands down one of the best meals we have had since living in Tampa.
For the eighth year in a row, Council Oak Steaks & Seafood has been awarded the prestigious Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator Magazine for its impressive menu of 278 fine wines. Since I was the only one drinking wine at the table, I was happy to see the impressive was the wine by the glass menu. I ordered a glass of Petite Sirah and got ready for our feast.
Gabe and I started off with Blue Point Oysters on the Half Shell.  They were served with horseradish, cocktail sauce and mignonette. We devoured them in a second, wishing for more. Why does this always happen with Oysters!!
Up next was a DELICIOUS appetizer which I strongly encourage anyone visiting Council Oak to try. Filet Mignon Beef Tartare, topped with arugula and quail egg. Words cannot even express how incredible this was. We will be feasting on this dish quite often in a few weeks while visiting Paris, but it will be difficult to compare to Council Oaks.
Now, I am sure by now you have been wondering what my first photo was. That was a hand engraved bone on Gabe's 26oz Long Bone Cowboy Ribeye, the signature steak at Council Oak. This steak was dry aged for 21 days and no photo could truly represent it's size. Typically your initials are presented on the bone. When the chef found out my twitter and instagram handle, it appeared on the steak. Flattery at it's best! The steak was perfect. Perfectly seasoned, perfectly prepared and left you wanting to eat all 26oz. Gabe ate about half of this before he waved the white flag.
Since I am technically on my wedding diet, I went for the healthiest steak option, ordering the 8oz filet mignon. I typically order filets at restaurants and can say with utmost certainty that this filet had more flavor than any other I have ever tried. I love this cut because it melts in your mouth but the filet is not known for it's flavor. If you want flavor, you go for what Gabe ordered. At first bite, my mouth was shocked. I didn't say a word and gave Gabe a bite - only to have him exclaim the same as I was thinking.
Shockingly, the most impressive dish of the evening does not go to a steak.....it goes to a side dish. Prior to entering Council Oak, we were told there was a side dish we couldn't leave without ordering - Lobster Risotto Jambalaya. We love lobster, risotto and jambalaya.....so we decided to go for it and both freaked out. As I am writing this, I am fighting a strong urge to call Council Oak and order this to-go. Living 6 miles from this restaurant is going to be dangerous. The amount of lobster in this "side dish" was no joke. While I do not know the total pound, I am going to guess a minimum of one whole Maine Lobster. Chunk after chunk of perfectly prepared lobster meat, inside of perfectly spiced jambalaya and risotto instead of rice.....I mean, it doesn't get any better than this.
I also ordered a side of wild mushrooms in garlic butter who sadly didn't get much attention. My fork kept finding it's way back to the Risotto.
I had to take a photo to show how perfect my filet was cooked. I probably could have cut it with a plastic knife.
Upon walking in and out of Council Oak, the first thing you will see is the butcher station, where the steaks dry age for 21-28 days. Now this is when things become very exciting for someone who lives 6 miles from the restaurant. The Council Oak Butcher Shop not only cuts the steak on premises daily for the restaurant - but also sells the cuts for those looking to take a nice piece of steak home to prepare themselves! The photo of the long bone cowboy ribeye below shows the magnitude of this beast.
Lastly, the atmosphere of Council Oak was romantic. Beautiful lighting all around, while hearing the sound of live piano in the distance. Our table happened to face the open kitchen, where I watched giant steaks, lobsters and one of the best looking cheeseburgers I have ever seen come out of the kitchen.
We left with full belly's, smiles on our faces and was instantly greeted by the casino. I will write a separate post on our enjoyable experience staying at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa.

The namesake for Council Oak Steaks & Seafood comes from an actual tree located on the Seminole Tribe of Florida (STOF) reservation in Hollywood (Fla.) where ceremonial and official STOF business is conducted.
 Council Oak at The Hard Rock on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I seriously can't believe I never went here. I've heard such amazing things about their steaks and now, your photos and descriptions have proved the amazingness. But! That risotto. My, oh, my. That is a gem of a dish if I've ever seen one. I probably would've stopped eating the filet all together. The lobster pieces...my goodness. Oh, and that beef tartare....can't even deal.

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