The Council Oak Steaks & Seafood restaurant at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa is actually the second iteration of the Council Oak restaurant, with the first being in Hollywood, Florida at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.
The name “Council Oak” comes from the namesake oak tree on the Hollywood reservation where Seminole tribe leaders would once meet regularly to discuss tribal business. Today, you can still see community and business leaders – like the President of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel – meeting with business cohorts but instead of around a real oak tree, they are at the Council Oak restaurant, discussing business matters around plates of steaks and lobsters in a fine dining setting.
After walking through hallways filled with the hypnotic music of singing slot machines, the first thing you notice when approaching Council Oak is its open air, fully loaded – magnificent – Butcher Shop.
The Butcher Shop at Council Oak proudly offers genuine USDA prime dry-aged beef cut daily on the premises for purchase to take home, with cuts ranging from NY strips, ribeyes and porterhouses, bone-in filet mignon, and lamb chops. You can watch with your mouth agape as the butcher weighs and cuts pounds and pounds of beef just feet away, ready to be cooked up and served.
Inside the restaurant, there is a contemporary look and luxurious feel, much like what you would find at fine dining restaurants at high end hotels these days. Shades of burgundy, sienna and gold complement the existing traditional rich, warm wood decor and towards the back of the restaurant, a full view of the glass encased kitchen where the chefs and their line cooks fire the grills and ovens away, preparing the freshest and highest quality ingredients into works of art for guests.
At Council Oak, their U.S.D.A. prime steaks are all dry-aged 21 to 28 days, cut to order from from inside their very own on-site butcher shop and their Alaskan King Crab legs are brought fresh directly from the Bering Sea. Their seafood is among the freshest that I’ve tasted, with a rich flavor of the sea.
On our recent trip to Hard Rock for a dinner, my dining companions and I sampled a litany of dishes, showcasing the depth and variety available at the Council Oak, ensuring a nice cross-section of the menu.
First off, bacon. Of course, the bacon here is cured and smoked in house and tastes much better than the breakfast variety. This is bacon for dinner, dressed up and ready for action.
FRESH COUNCIL OAK BACON $10
Cured & Smoked In-House
COUNCIL OAK RAW BAR SAMPLER
Alaskan King Crab legs, Maine Lobster, Jumbo Cocktail Shrimp, Oysters, Clams
This was one of the freshest seafood dishes I’ve tasted. Of course the oysters and clams are raw, but the taste was so very fresh, they might have been pulled out of the ocean just moments before from what I could tell. The lobster and king crab legs and shrimp were all similarly fantastic, prepared very well.
LONG BONE COWBOY RIBEYE – 26 oz. $50 – One of the Council Oak’s signature dishes, the long bone cowboy ribeye is juicy and savory with light seasoning so you can taste the essence of the steak. They also engrave initials onto the bone for you if you like. I asked for “TASTY” for tasty “chops”.
DRY AGED LAMB CHOPS $50 -Two Double-Cut Chops, Fresh Rosemary, Roasted Garlic – This dish was good, but would say that it was probably the least memorable of the evening. Fresh, and savory, but maybe missing something. The meat was very flavorful.
For dessert, one of the signature dishes is the light, airy, divine – souffle, ranging from traditional Grand Marnier, to Vanilla bean and chocolate, each with its own sauce to pour over.
There is also a tasting menu going on at the moment at Council Oak, a new concept from the chef to showcase their chops, so to speak. It would change seasonally and would feature the freshest ingredients of the time with four courses for $99 per person.
AUTUMN’S PRIME PAIRINGS
A FOUR COURSE TASTING OF THE SEASON’S MOST EXCITING INGREDIENTS,
PERFECTLY PAIRED WITH WINES FROM THE CELLAR
COUNCIL OAK PRIME SIRLOIN TARTARE
Poached Quail Egg, House-Made Melba
PRIME SHORT RIB RISOTTO
Wild Autumn Mushrooms, Truffle, Reggiano
PETITE WAGYU BEEF FILET
Mustard, Vidalia Onion Custard, Wilted Rainbow Chard, Bordelaise
FIVE SPICED CHOCOLATE CREMEUX
Chocolate Soil, Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Coffee Frappe