By Marie Gilmore
For 10 years, Wine Spectator Magazine has acknowledged Council Oak Steaks & Seafood nestled into the heart of the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, with the Award of Excellence and it’s easy to see why judges continue to recognize this local fine dining restaurant.
Council Oak and its attached cocktail bar, Council Oak Lounge have been designed as an intimate, perfect date night destination. And, it is almost impossible to miss the Himalayan Rock Salt-lined, open-air butcher shop upon entering the 165-seat restaurant located in the center of the casino, near the Hard Rock Cafe. The restaurant recently updated its menu including new appetizers, entrees, a new dessert and several new craft cocktails.
To set itself apart, Council Oak offers an open-air, fresh-cut butcher shop where all the beef is aged on site within the Himalayan Rock Salt walls and always cut to order. The separate climate-controlled case features dry-age coolers and is used to age steaks for their delicious flavor. All meats are cut onsite and are 100 percent USDA prime and aged anywhere from 21- 28 days.
New appetizers joining the menu update include, Steamed Mussels with garlic infused tomato broth and toasted ciabatta; Soft Shell Crab with summer succotash and caper vinaigrette and Calamari & Lobster with smoked cherry peppers and red wine gastrique. Ask about daily exclusive specials based on availability, including the show-stopper, Lionfish appetizer. Lionfish is poisonous in the wild but safe to eat and decadent once prepared.
Another new appetizer is the Wagyu Beef Tartar served chopped with crispy leeks, cilantro, capers, quail egg and smoked tableside.
For entrees, Grilled Yellowtail Snapper with roasted tomato and fennel; Florida Grouper with rock shrimp and tomato scampi with wild arugula; a 21-ounce bone-in New York Strip; and a Prime Rib special offered on Fridays and Saturdays only join the menu.
A new Baked Alaska dessert offering is enough for two and is a chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, meringue and chocolate sauce and flambéed tableside with Amaretto 151.
Along with its revamped menu, Council Oak also offers a number of new cocktails with such names as Pillow Talk, Garden Party, Cucumber Gimlet, Twisted Western and a photo worthy Rose Mojito, which includes a rose infused ice cube.
Resort Executive Sous Chef Michael Balles, who oversees 10 on-site restaurants, opened the Bobby Flay Steak restaurant at the Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. and worked with Wolfgang Puck American Grill and American Cut by Iron Chef Marc Forgione, is proud of the new offerings at Council Oak.
“We wanted to bring some fresh flavors and some new techniques into the menu changes at Council Oak,” described Balles. “We are proud of the new menu and want to make every experience at Council Oak, a memorable one.”
Council Oak Steaks and Seafood Restaurant has received one of the most prestigious restaurant reviews from Zagat. Reviewers tout its “friendly efficient” service and “trendy” décor, saying “it’s perfect for a night out on the town.”
The restaurant offers over 300 wine selections that represent numerous varietals, regions and prices ranging from $50 to $7,000, and features popular Napa Valley classics, Veuve Clicquot Champagnes and an eclectic selection of wines from Plumpjack Estate to Paul Hobbs Winery and more.
Owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa is among the country’s top five casinos, as ranked by the number of gaming positions available to casino guests. The Seminole Hard Rock Casino now offers a non-smoking casino for guests.
It occupies 37 acres of the Tampa Seminole Reservation, which is located east of downtown Tampa near the Intersection of I-4 and I-75. The hotel is AAA Four Diamond rated and offers six award-winning Zagat-rated restaurants, including the fine dining venue Council Oak Steaks & Seafood.
The resort is currently under expansion with plans for more casino space, larger Rock Spa and additional hotel rooms underway. Non-smoking casino floor, new Orient Road Garage and additional new features including a self-guided memorabilia “rock walk” tour.
Call for reservations 866-388-4263 or book online at www.seminolehardrocktampa.com. Dining room is non-smoking.