Council Oak Steaks & Seafood – “The Ultimate Steakhouse Experience”
Food trends come and go, and consumer fads fade in & out. But when it comes to America’s all-time favorite, steak still reigns supreme. Let’s face it, there’s just nothing quite like the classic American steakhouse experience. No wonder there’s such a profusion of steak options readily available. South Florida alone has nearly 200 “high-end” steakhouses, and just about every other restaurant offers some kind of steak. Even fast food joints serve Philly steak subs, steak tacos, steak rice bowls, and such — plus of course, all the steaks we consume at home any given day. Yes, steak is still king. But of all the billions of steaks sold, only a select few (less than 2%) can rightfully be called “Prime” (USDA Prime Grade beef). And even a smaller portion of steaks are dry-aged* (*see footnote for more info on dry aging). So to find any dry-aged Prime beef is a rare treat indeed — but to find a restaurant that actually dry-ages its own Prime beef in-house is something truly spectacular, and a “Must Try” for any meat-lovin’ foodie. Well good news, south Florida — Council Oak Steaks & Seafood at Seminole Hard Rock Casino is such a place!
Council Oak, is quite simply, the ultimate steakhouse experience. Every facet of the Council Oak dining experience is exceptional, from the initial friendly greeting to the final farewell. As you’re guided to your table, you get a first-hand view of the in-house butcher shop, and watch the skillful butchers at work and gaze at the night’s fresh cuts on display behind the expanded glass wall. You can’t help but marvel at the splendor of these glorious prime cuts — it’s the carnivorous equivalent of passing by a dessert cart. Behind the butcher area is the dry-aging room, where the real magic happens, as raw cuts of Prime beef are meticulously transformed into dry-aged steaks in a precisely controlled environment.* Of special note is the Pink Himalayan Salt wall, which further enhances the aging process (and helps maintain sanitation) – an extra step of excellence that only a handful of restaurants in the world still do.
The Council Oak setting reflects old-school elegance and refinement, melded with contemporary cool and comfortable. Tables dressed in crisp white linens and glimmering stemware are spaced comfortably apart, allowing for quiet conversation. Seating options include the ‘upper’ main dining room, cozy banquets in a more intimate ‘lower’ deck, or the convivial front bar area, where live musicians provide perfect acoustical ambiance. Either way, Council Oak is the place to just sit back, relax, be pampered by your waiter, and truly enjoy this exquisite dining experience. Speaking of the wait staff, service here is exemplary, under the guidance of veteran General Manager Dieter Xaio. Upon being seated, the server quickly greets you by name and introduces himself. He even introduces the busboy, who functions more as an “assistant waiter” for your table (how often do you see that?), and then presents you with a moist hot towel (nice touch!). Our server Stephen was a true pro — polite, attentive, and extremely knowledgeable, able to field my tough “food critic” questions with aplomb, while never overlooking any detail.
Your dining adventure begins with a basket of fresh-baked breads (still warm!), including a luscious tomato-herb focaccia. The aromas are seductive, and, as the Borg say, Resistance is Futile. But do exercise control, as an alluring array of Appetizers awaits. The house-cured Bacon is something to behold. The Chefs cure, season, and smoke the highest grade of bacon (pork belly) in-house, then cut it extra thick and extra long, and dress it with an aged balsamic vinegar drizzle and organic heirloom tomatoes. It may seem an unlikely starter, but this bacon is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Beef Tenderloin Tips are another definite winner, starring Prime tenderloin tips graced with a chipotle-coffee rub, served atop a sultry buttermilk polenta then crowned charred greens onions (yum!). Either option could make a light meal in itself. Other notable starters (most $13-$26) include classics like Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Oysters Rockefeller, Escargot, Tuna Tartare, French Onion Soup, and fresh Raw Bar selections, plus three types of Caviar. The house Chopped Salad makes a delightful intermezzo, comprised of crisp chopped romaine, grilled corn, dried cranberries, walnuts, and bleu cheese. Other Salads include Heirloom Tomato with local fresh Burrata, Caesar (with white anchovies), Spinach (with dried cherries and pine nuts), and classic Iceberg Wedge ($13 – $15).
But enough about the starters, we’re at Council Oak — we’re here for the steak! As discussed above, this is not just your ordinary steak – this is in-house dry aged* and fresh butchered Prime beef! Now the tough part – deciding which steak to call yours. Perhaps a butter-soft Filet Mignon, or a beefy NY Strip? Can’t decide? Then order the Porterhouse, offering the best of both. My suggestion: The succulent-sweet Ribeye, perfectly marbled to deliver its distinctive balance of sweet-savory-beefy taste, texture, and mouthfeel. Or for the ultimate indulgence, go for the signature Long Bone Cowboy Ribeye, a 30-oz. bastion of steak perfection (cavemen, take note!). Most steaks are offered in small and large versions, including several special cuts for two, like the prodigious 48-oz. Porterhouse for 2 ($49 – $150). Another special note: Council Oak also features authentic Japanese A5 Wagyu Steaks. Whatever steak you choose, Executive Chef Brian Doyle and his team execute with perfection. Your steak arrives still sizzling and cooked precisely to order, bearing that telltale char and crust of the high-temp ovens that you just can’t duplicate at home.
Other non-steak entrees include dry-aged Colorado Lamb Chops (another unique rarity), succulent Veal Chop, Braised Short Rib, and Roasted Brick Chicken; along with seafood options like Pan Seared Scallops (with wild mushroom risotto, champagne gastrique, and fresh truffles!), Chilean Seabass, and a thundering San Francisco-inspired Cioppino, chock full of chock full of fresh seafood including Maine Lobster. Of course no steakhouse dinner is complete without some substantial sides, and here again Council Oak excels. You’ll find the customary standards (Wild Mushrooms, Creamed Spinach, Asparagus, Loaded Baked Potatoes), plus some house specialties like gluten-free Cauliflower Goat Cheese Gratin, Creamed Corn, and a to-die-for Lobster Mac & Cheese.
Even the water here is filtered in-house, so no need to pay for fancy bottled water. Instead, treat yourself to a more intriguing beverage from the bar. The bar shakes up some killer cocktails, from standard classics to creative house specialties. Meanwhile, the top shelf plays host to the Big Boys, with names like Johnny Walker Blue, Pappy Van Winkle, Louis XIII, and some 30-year guy named Macallan. And for true connoisseurs of fine spirits, Council Oak also features a unique One Ounce Club, offering a chance sample exclusive, high-end liquors in one ounce increments, including special limited editions ($23 to $720 per ounce.). Yet another very cool and unique feature that makes Council Oak so special.
But you won’t find a cocktail menu or wine list on the table here – instead, you’ll find an uber-cool iPad, custom-programmed with a seemingly endless array of spirits, craft beers, and fine wines. The cool interactive program allows you to search for any wine, beer, or spirit by name, classification, profile, region, etc. A quick touch of the screen then brings you to a new screen with more details, tasting notes, reviews, and even a picture of the bottle. You can even email the tasting notes directly to yourself for future reference (very cool!). The Council Oak wine list is amongst the best in south Florida. Here you’ll find an expansive global list, featuring over 400 selections including 30 wines by the glass, plus half-bottle and large formats (magnums). Prices range from $50 to $6,500, so there’s an option for everyone. Another unique feature: Council Oak offers a unique Coravin program, allowing you to sample 3-oz. or 6-oz. pours of different high-end wines, without having to open a full bottle. No wonder Council Oak consistently earns Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence every year.
Upon Dieter’s recommendation, we savored a Marchesi de’Frescobaldi Mormoreto 2010, a perfect match for our savory steaks. This deep ruby Super Tuscan delivers a complex bouquet of black cherry, plum, and dates up front, delicately lifted by slight floral nuances. Upon the palate the structure emerges further, unveiling notes of darker berries, cocoa powder, and coffee, elegantly threaded with subtle hints of earthy truffles, licorice and spice. Full bodied with a velvety texture, the complex structure delicately unravels to a long silky finish with ending notes of espresso and chocolate covered cherry. I could taste that luscious Tuscan countryside with each sip.
Finish on a sweet note with some amazing desserts (house-made, of course), like the Bananas Foster Cheesecake, Chocolate Soufflé, or seasonal Gelato, accompanied by a fresh espresso or one of the many after-dinner cordials. Then sit back and reflect upon this amazing experience at Council Oak – the ultimate dining experience!
Council Oak Steaks & Seafood is located in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (1 Seminole Way) in Hollywood, Florida. Open for dinner every night, plus Sunday Brunch with live entertainment nightly in the lounge area.
* Dry aging is a precise method of aging beef in a specially controlled environment, allowing the meat to age naturally. This method breaks down the collagen (which holds the muscle fibers together), resulting in a more tender protein. As the meat ages, it literally shrinks, thereby enhancing the flavor. It also means that a significant portion of the meat the restaurant buys disappears before it hits the grill, thus making it even more expensive. This is how our grandparents’ grandparents prepared steak, long before wet aging (marinating the meat in plastic bags) was ever invented. It’s a very precise, time-consuming, and expensive method. But with the advent of the faster & cheaper wet aging process, dry aging has become nearly extinct, and can be found at only a handful of establishments now. Note: Just because a steak is dry-aged does not mean it’s Prime beef. So a steak that is both dry-aged and Prime is something truly special.
TAGS: Council Oak, Steakhouse, Steak, Seafood, Seminole Hard Rock Casino, Wine, Scotch, Restaurant Placement Group, www.RestaurantPlacement.com,