My first visit to Bern's Steakhouse

Tasted Saturday, April 8, 2017 by River Rat with 221 views


Like any true wine geek when I was informed of a trade show in Tampa my first thought was "I'm making reservations at Bern's." I have friends who live in Tampa about 3 min from the restaurant so we hooked up for a fun three top. Rachel came recommended as a Somm so I requested her in advance. Upon arrival I perused the massive wine list but between the enormity of it and the fact that my dinner guests were non-stop talkers I gave up and handed duties over to Rachel. With my somewhat limited budget I feel she did a great job.

Flight 1 - Appetizers and Entree Pairings (3 Notes)

  • 1998 R. López de Heredia Rioja Blanco Viña Tondonia

    Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja

    I had ordered a Tuna Tartar with a toasted sesame drizzle as an appetizer and this paired so well it was seamless. Colorwas pale golden. White flowers and sweet caramel on the nose. It started reserved but as time passed and the wine came up closer to room temp it was more expansive. Great waxy texture, tart green apple, pear and a note of freshly sliced almonds. Medium plus bodied with bright/racy acidity that pushed through the finish. I really enjoyed this and combined with the fact that it paired so well with the food it just made it an even better experience. Wonderful aging potential here.

    Post a Comment / 2 people found this helpful, do you? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 1982 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards Durif Jones Ranch

    USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains

    This wine was the surprise treat of the evening. My somm Rachel pulled this one out of her hat and nailed it. Color was medium dark red with a slight brickish tinge. The nose featured red berry and light baking spice along with a touch of dried fig. This really shined on the palate where everything just flowed harmoniously. Medium bodied and refined, soft red currant and cherry with touches of cedar and tar. The tannins started out fairly prominent but over an hour matured to a dusty chalk note that accented the well balanced palate perfectly. I've never experienced a Petite Sirah with this kind of elegance before. This was a treat and my WOTN.

    Post a Comment / 2 people found this helpful, do you? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 1988 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde

    France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie

    My first choice in a Rhone was for a Cornas but they didn't have one with age that fit into my budget so the Somm picked this one. Never had this wine with age so the contrast to my previous tastes was interesting. This poured like a Pinot Noir colorwise. Light pale red, nearly transparant. The nose was the star with earthy red cherry, some roasted meat and a citrusy orange zest. It had a gamey edge that wasn't bretty gamey just hard to pin down. Medium minus bodied, showing some of its age with black cherry and a briney saline kinda olive note with just a bit of bacon. The acidity was enough to balance out the rare Chateaubriand. Tannins were soft and resolved. It had that earthy gamey edge that made up for the lack of fruit. Interesting but not memorable. Not OTH by any means, but it doesn't look like more time will improve it at all.

    Post a Comment / 1 person found this helpful, do you? Yes - No / Report Issue

Flight 2 - Dessert (1 Note)

  • 1954 Henriques & Henriques Madeira Boal

    Portugal, Madeira

    Off to the dessert room at Bern's. Another futile attempt at the menu so I deferred to the server who recommended this Madeira. Nutty, burnt caramel, some lacquer and charred oak. Creamy, ripe banana, orange oil, loads of sweet tangy goodness and espresso bean. The finish went on for days. Complimented my Macadamia nut ice cream so well that they should offer them as a package. Really fun experience.

    Post a Comment / 1 person found this helpful, do you? Yes - No / Report Issue


Overall this was a really fun night that took nearly 5 hours to complete. Did the kitchen and cellar tour along with the dessert room to top it all off. I noticed a '75 Mondavi Zinfandel on the btg menu and asked Rachel about it. Every old Mondavi Zin I have tried has been OTH so I was eager to try one after our meal. She said it's good upon opening but fades quickly. She checked it but said it was already deteriorated so I had to pass.

Like I mentioned in my opening this whole thing is pretty overwhelming for a first timer. All in all I thought we did well though. Would love to come back some time but with my limited travel history it isn't likely. Unless they hold another show here next year. Who knows?