Wine Dine and Play: Council Oak Steakhouse

Council Oak Steakhouse

The Council Oak Steakhouse is inside the Seminole Hard rock Casino and hotel in Tampa, Florida

An Innovative And Upscale American Steakhouse
Tampa, Florida USA
Seminole Nation
Cuisine Style: Steakhouse
Average Price: $$$$
Overall Rating: 5/5
Article Updated: February 2020
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:
By Cuisine  /  By Country

Restaurant Name Zomato rating: 

Council Oak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Executive Chef:
Matthew Sadowski

Council Oak Steakhouse is the Classic American Steakhouse; every town has one, whether it is a chain name or stand-alone restaurant. Most Americans love their meat and potato meal, and when asked what one of our favorite pastimes is in relation to food, we will say steak. While in Tampa, my father had his birthday, and he chose the Council Oak Steakhouse inside the Hard Rock Café Hotel and Casino as the place to go, based on others who had recommended it. Upon entering the restaurant, you are confronted with a butcher shop that you can glance at through a glass-walled partition. This is where the cuts of meat are personally selected, cut and branded for diners. It is a climate-controlled environment that also features dry-age coolers and new pink Himalayan salt brick walls where primal cuts are aged between 21 - 28 days.

    • Appetizers
    • Raw Bar
    • Salads
    • Soups
    • USDA Prime steaks and Chops
    • Specialties
    • Sides
    • Sauces
    • Additions
    • Desserts
The Council Oak Steakhouse has a butcher shop attached to the restaurant and the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, Florida
Council Oak Steakhouse/  Butcher Shop
Before you enter the restaurant to see this encased butcher shop you have to walk through the ground floor of the Hard Rock Hotel Casino, and a maze of slot machines and tables. My wife and I come here about 6 times a year to enjoy losing our money to the slots. Be warned if you are a non-smoker like me, then your lungs will be in for a major shock. Most Casinos’ I have been to in Canada, France, and Germany are primarily non-smoking and well ventilated, but this one is the exact opposite. They do have a non-smoking gambling section, but it is on the far side of the hotel. As we walked in I could see a cloud of smoke hanging 15 feet above the ground like smoke from a fire, and the entire lobby and ground levels had strong smells of cigarettes and cigars. My initial fear was that the restaurant would be the same as the Casino floor, which would have ruined the night. I don’t mind walking through a casino of smoke, but to try and enjoy a meal with it is a different story. 

If you are a people watcher, then you will love the Casino. Beyond seeing groups of people from all ages 21-100 years, I saw people in the casino that had a bad time with the Florida sunshine and having more wrinkles and curves than an ugly modern art masterpiece did. As I held my breath through the smoke, I had a smile and tried not to laugh as we walked by an older man in his seventies sitting in an electric wheelchair, an oxygen tank on the side with mask close to his face, smoking a cigarette, and cursing in Spanish because he was on a losing streak. I guess someone forgot to tell him that you go to Casinos for fun, not to win, because the house always wins. He was a heart attack waiting to happen, or a perfect terrorist in disguise as his oxygen tank would have done a lot of damage if it had gone up.
Once we arrived at the restaurant we waited at the bar lounge enjoying some live music and a few cocktails. The bar struck my interest because the interior of the entire restaurant was very stylish and well designed with nice wood and oak, showing off the upscale appearance of the room. The bar was not made from oak, but from steel or aluminum, hanging from the ceiling supporting two glass shelf rows of assorted liquors. The design and style clashed with the oak, and I liked that. Once seated our server went over the menu and the wine list. The wine list had a good variety of bottles and by the glass selections from across the world. My father settled on a Central Italian wine, while I had a bottle of Barolo, Pio Cesare, 2007, from Piedmont, Italy. Sourced from the family-owned vineyards in Serralunga d'Alba (Ornato), Grinzane Cavour (Gustava), La Morra (Roncaglie), and Barolo -Novello (Ravera), the wine was aged in mid toasted French oak for 3 years (70% in 20 to 50 hectoliters casks; 30% in barriques). According to the winemakers' notes, it was a classic Barolo, Nebbiolo grapes excellent structure and harmony, mild tannins and balanced fruit. It is immediately approachable, but it has very long aging potential. Regulatory is the D.O.C.G.

We stared with assorted pieces of bread and three separate spreads, a whipped butter, goat cheese butter, and a sun-dried tomato paste. There were also some seasonings on the table, but what caught my interest was a jar of combination seasonings that had been house-smoked and had a wonderful flavor. I used it throughout the meal and took some home. For the first course, we had the Council Oak in-house smoked bacon as a starter with heirloom tomatoes and aged balsamic vinegar. Like most steakhouses, the appetizer menus are very similar to one another having shrimp cocktails, scallops, and carpaccio. Therefore, when I saw the bacon I jumped on it because you do not usually see an item like that too often. The light smoke process brought out all the natural flavors of the bacon, and for me enhanced it overall.

Hickory smoked bacon appetizer at the Council Oak Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida
Council Oak Steakhouse /Smoked Bacon
For the second course, my father had the Caprese salad with buffalo mozzarella, beefsteak tomatoes, and a balsamic reduction. At first, my father was skeptical about the Caprese, because it said Buffalo. He spent several years working in Naples, Italy, which is the area near to where Caprese salads originate, and the Italians use water buffalo milk to make the cheese. It has a strong but not a potent flavor. Most restaurants in the United States serve Caprese salads with normal mozzarella because the buffalo cheese has a low shelf life of 2-4 days before going bad. Because of this short amount of time, the exporting of this product to other countries is horrifically expensive. For years my father tried Caprese in many restaurants but gave up since they used generic cheese. When reading the menu, the way the Chef phrased the process of making the cheese, made my dad order it. He was not disappointed. 

I shared the French onion soup with my Stepmother, and the Chef’s preparation and a combination of flavors were right on point. The cheese topping was also classic Gruyere Swiss cheese, and it tasted wonderful. The only disappointing part of this course was the delivery of the soup. Since I was splitting it and informed the server that I was splitting, the soup was brought out in one bowl instead of being split into two with half portions in each. For the third course, my Father had the pappardelle bolognese, which consisted of fresh house-made pasta, veal, pork, beef, and San Marzano tomatoes. My Stepmother had the 8-ounce filet mignon, and for ale carte, added some asparagus with hollandaise, and dauphinoise potato gratin.

Finally, I went for the gusto and had the 26-ounce long bone cowboy ribeye that had been dry-aged for 21 days that made an already juicy and fabulous steak into a mouthwatering gastric dream for a cut of meat. The only thing better than this, in my opinion, would have been real Japanese Kobe beef. As a little fun and bonus, when I had ordered the steak, the server asked for my initials, and the cook branded them onto the bone, which was a nice touch. For ale carte side I ordered the lobster macaroni and cheese. It tasted good, but for me, it did not pair well with the steak.

A monster cowboy ribeye at the Council Oak Steakhouse with the customers initials engraved onto the bone at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, Florida
Council Oak Steakhouse / The Monster Ribeye

We were all very full and needed boxes to take home, but since the experience was so memorable, and it was my fathers birthday, I had to try their desserts, and he settled on their vanilla bean crème brûlée that was flambéed at the table. I thought I was going to be sick to try to finish it with him, as he only had one bite. Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I would return. The worst part was yet to come because I knew to get to the car we had to walk through the Casino with all the cigarette smoke. By mistake, I left my credit card on the table of the restaurant. When I returned to claim it, they had turned it into Casino Security, so I appreciated the professionalism of the Restaurant staff in the handling of my credit card. 

The Creme Brûlée dessert at the Council Oak Steakhouse flambéed at the table, Tampa, Florida
Council Oak Steakhouse / Crème brûlée
Plus check out some of these wonderful selections from Wine Dine and Play: 

Please see these guidelines for Tipping in Restaurants and on following proper etiquette, customs, cultures, and avoiding assumptions when you dine out.

Wine regulatory’s for the tastings in this article:

“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is the strength, in the water there are bacteria.” - David Auerbach

Other Noteworthy Steakhouse Articles and Restaurants Similar to Council Oak Steakhouse:
A steakhouse or chophouse is a restaurant that specializes in steaks and chops. Modern steakhouses can also offer other cuts of meat such as roast prime rib, veal, and seafood. Chophouses started in London in the 1690s and served individual portions of meat, known as chops. The steakhouse started in the United States in the late nineteenth century as a development from traditional inns and bars with establishments such as Delmonico's in New York City.

5A5 Steak Lounge Modern Japanese steakhouse with chic design in San Francisco, California
Bascom’s Chophouse A steakhouse that uses organic, hormone-free, and locally grown produce in Clearwater, Florida 
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Fleming’s Steakhouse High-end steakhouse chain (69+) with aged prime cuts, reviewed in Akron, Ohio
Fogo de Chão An upscale Brazilian chain with 49 locations. Review based in Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia
Frevo Restaurant Authentic churrascaria dining at the Fairmont on Palm Island, Dubai, UAE
Grill 225 Top 10 American fine-dining ornate chophouse, Market Pavilion Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina 
Halls Chophouse Esteemed old-school steakhouse with gospel brunch in Charleston, South Carolina
Laurent Tourondel / BLT A swanky French-American steakhouse fair with 14 restaurants
Malio’s Prime Steakhouse A family-owned steakhouse inside the Rivergate Tower in Tampa, Florida
Oak Steakhouse High-end elegant steakhouse with sustainable seafood in Charleston, South Carolina
Stonewood Grill and Tavern Stylish chophouse chain with surf ’n’ turf; reviewed in Brandon, Florida
Sunset Terrace A classic outdoor American chophouse at Omni Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, North Carolina

Waterfront Restaurant Steakhouse restaurant on inlet offering Gulf views in Sarasota Florida

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary

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 A top 20 on Wine Dine and Play
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Landmark bar since 1851, where Jimmy Buffet got his start
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Waterfront upscale new American cuisine

Final notes, review basics, observations, and more pictures:

Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writer's knowledge, even if it includes metaphors the restaurant may not like to read about. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors based on individual experience. They include wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, and wow factor. 
To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

Overall from this experience and the score factors outlined in the ‘about page’ section, based on my individual experience and rating, I give Council Oak a 5 out of 5 stars, meaning that they not only exceeded my expectations and were far above the average dining experience of most restaurants, but they also surpassed the level of outstanding and were an extraordinary experience.
Scores are detailed in the factor chart below:

Formula Factor Conclusions and Overall Ratings for Council Oak Steakhouse
Max Points Possible:
Total Points Awarded:
Total Points deducted:
Food quality
Plate presentation
Customer service
Alcohol and other beverages
Total regular points awarded
Total percentage Before Bonus


“Wow” factor BONUS
Total bonus percentage


Total percentage with a bonus for the final star rating


Stars Awarded (see chart below)
             0 - 5

**A full break down and explanation of the observations and point disbursement is available in the linked article above. To receive a detailed copy of your score, feel free to contact me at any time and I will provide it to you.**


Overall Star Rating:
5 of 5 Stars: 
94% Rating with a 3 point “wow” bonus
An Extraordinary Dining Experience
Wine List:
Wine rating:
7 of 10
Old World selections: 
France, Spain, Italy, Germany

New World selections: 
Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, California, Oregon, Washington State, South Africa
Corkage fees:
This Restaurant does not list any corkage fee’s however, most American restaurants charge 
$25.00 per bottle
Conservative dining
Cuisine Style:
American, Steakhouse
Allergen or dietary accommodations: 
Grass-Fed, Halal, Organic, Pescatarian, Vegetarian
Not Required
Dress code:
Casual or Conservative attire
Child policy:

The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a kids menu or cater to them; however, for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended that kids not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. 
If not then:
Hire a Babysitter! 
A place for foodies, Modern, Hotspot, Great bar, Good for special occasions, Classy, Upscale, and a Neighborhood Gem.
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Valet, or a Public lot
$20.00 charge for valet
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Council Oak is a non-smoking restaurant, but a smoking casino
Patio or terrace:

Food Prices 
(excludes, alcohol, taxes & 20% gratuity’s)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 (inexpensive)
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 (moderate)
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 (pricy)
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 (expensive)
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 (very expensive)

**Currencies reflect the world’s major travelers, restaurant, or wine connoisseur’s**

United States Dollar (USD)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
European Union (EUR)

 Alcohol prices:

$175.00 USD

Council Oak Steakhouse:

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, ground floor
5223 Orient Road
Seminole Nation
Tampa, FL 33610

Contact Information: 

Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+1 813 627-7628
Online reservations
Webpage Contact:
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)

5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
5:00 pm - 12:00 am

Social Media 
Facebook link                

The world's best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.

A few to tease you with…

Eclectic and Innovative New Zealand cuisine
Christchurch, New Zealand
A classy southern seafood eatery house
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Waterfront upscale new American cuisine
Sanibel Island, Florida, USA

Other Pictures:

The Council Oak Steakhouse is inside the Hard Rock Cafe, Hotel, and Casino in Tampa, Florida
Council Oak Steakhouse / Hard Rock Logo

The Hard Rock Casino and hotel in Tampa, Florida. The Council Oak Steakhouse is one of the restaurants inside.
Council Oak Steakhouse / Casino and Hotel in Tampa
Another section of the butcher room at the Council Oak Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida
Council Oak Steakhouse / Butcher
Every night a band plays at the bar inside the Council Oak Steakhouse at the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, Florida
Council Oak Steakhouse / The band
Assorted and smoked butter selections at the Council Oak Steakhouse
Council Oak Steakhouse / Butter selections 
Smoked salt selections at the Council Oak Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida
Council Oak Steakhouse / Smoked Salts
Tomato Caprese salad at the Council Oak Steakhouse
Council Oak Steakhouse / Caprese Salad
The French onion soup at the  Council Oak Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida had hot melted cheese to die for
Council Oak Steakhouse / French Onion Soup
ThePappardelle Bolognese at the Council Oak Steakhouse
Council Oak Steakhouse / Pappardelle Bolognese
A filet of beef tenderloin seared to medium-rare at the Council Oak Steakhouse
Council Oak Steakhouse / Filet of Beef Tenderloin

The crew of Wine Dine and Play enjoying a birthday meal at the Council Oak Steakhouse at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Tampa, Florida
Council Oak Steakhouse / The Wine Dine And Play Crew

“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)

Who is John Galt?


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