Monday, October 21, 2013

Road Trip

Friday was the day we drove the Family Truckster to Tampa in order to have dinner at a little steak house called Bern's. Do not let the modern website fool you; It is a corner joint that looks a bit worn on the outside and more importantly,  looking like a 1950's red light district flophouse inside.

Our hotel generously drove us to the restaurant in the shuttle van. There was much hustle and bustle in the parking lot so I was only able to snap off a quick shot of the sign.

The parking lot is valet only, there were people arguing and not wanting to pay the five bucks for parking. 

Look, I thought, just pay the money and get inside, ok?

The waiting area was crowded. Many people don't know that you should get a reservation in advance. Like a month ago.

We were quickly ushered into one of the dining areas and found ourselves sitting at a little two-top about five feet from the head. I was not feeling the love. In fact, I was getting a bit perturbed that we had expended much effort to be there and it was frustrating to swallowed up by a large steak machine.

There was a loud party of eight across to my left. There were grandparents, parents and chubby ill-dressed twenty something hipster wearing a pink something covering her rolls and topped off by a Levi jacket which barely covered the loud bits. They looked like they were either returning or leaving on a cruise ship.

The dining room was not a quiet place of reflection or staid people enjoying expensive food. Nope, it was like being at Banchero's Italian Family restaurant.
Family Fun. Not my kinda place unless I had a family to go with.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
On to the menu; It is a thick menu, one that should be pondered for a week or so. Seriously. Bern's owners and staff take much pride in the good foods they provide which is why the restaurant is so busy.

We ordered the 14 ounce Chateaubriand, which is like a Filet Mignon only with the grain of the meat horizontal instead of vertical. It is priced at $70. Don't choke on that number! It comes with french onion soup, fresh green salad plate, and baked potato and green beans. The price was for two!
Good value. We normally pay about $28 (each) at the Yacht Club and the food is good, but not Bern's good.

Here is a pro tip for anyone dining at Bern's; Don't try to eat all the food. You won't make it to the dessert room.
We ordered a bottle of Chateauneuf de Pape, I think it was a '94 or '96. It set us back about $140. 

Next time, I will bring our aerator for allowing the wine to 'breathe' a bit more aggressively. The Sommelier decanted the bottle but we needed another twenty minutes for the wine to fully relax in a more drinkable way. But dinner was being served and wine must be consumed with the beef, mustn't it? 

The wine started very jammy and sweet it was not until dinner was almost over with that we started to really enjoy the subtle flavors. 

By that time, we were hustled into the kitchen to see the inner works of Bern's. There were signs on every wall that read: "Quiet".

The kitchen area reminded me of the galley at MCRD San Diego. It must have been a hundred people moving about in quiet efficiency; A steak station. The Mixologists. The salad room. Veggie areas. Breads.

A person hoping to work at Bern's will spend a year in back before being allowed to work out front serving customers. Since most dining bills will be in excess of $300, one can see why people want to be part of the tips gettin' staff. (I read our tab closely and noticed the restaurant places a 12% service charge. Our server (Who was excellent, got 11% from me). Pays to be watchful, nowadays.

We were then invited/herded over to the ready wine cellar. Thousands of bottles of fine wines were stored in cool dark temperatures on racks that stretched as far as the eye can see from floor to rafters. I could spend weeks in that place, believe me!

Before we had too much time to ponder in the silence and peace of the wine cave, we were then directed to the dessert room where a cozy booth (At Last! A proper table in private!) awaited us.  And we were given another large menu with dessert and wine choices. The nice young lady who was helping us was not knowledgeable about dessert wines so she brought us the Manager/Sommelier named Nate. 

Nate helped us choose a Port, a 1970 Vintage that was a bit fruity and sweet. This bottle cost at least $150 (I was getting a bit fuzzy on facts by then!) and then Nate brought us a couple of tastes of the most amazing Port I have ever tried.

The Tawny nectar of 1856
It was from a Vintage dating to 1856. We can buy a bottle for about $3400! Yikes. It was the smoothest Port and it was a great treat given that a mere taste would cost us a hundred bucks, each. Very nice of the Manager to comp us on such a memorable drink.

We had some nice cheeses to go with our bottle of Vintage Port and I (of course) did my best to get rid of the evidence before paying the bill.

Dinner ran us about $500 total. It was a little under what I thought it would really cost so I felt we had a good value for the money spent. 

We called the hotel and had them send out the shuttle van to pick us up for the return to our room. Much better than breaking the law or having to deal with a taxi driver who might want to take advantage of us by cruising around downtown to gain a few extra bucks on the padded bill.

View from our tenth floor room over looking Davis Island.

The next morning we took a walk around downtown Tampa. There was a Vegan fair going on by the Forum, we were amused by the scrawny and gaunt people who walked about feeling superior to us meat eaters. Funny enough, there was a Taco Truck parked out front and there was some sort of live music being played by people not speaking English. 

Running through my mind at that moment; If God wanted us to not eat animals, why did He make them out of meat?

Whatever. Boring, antiseptic Downtown Tampa. No restaurants with local character. Nothing but concrete buildings and Banks. Downtown looks like every other downtown in America. Millions spent removing the charm and the poor to be replaced by vegan yuppies and their bicycles, all congregating at the stupidf&*^ Starbucks coffee joint.

I can see why people are getting angry with Corporations and Government. There are no people downtown anymore. Only police and empty artificiality.

Time to get back to the hotel!

We got back to the room around lunch time and since there was no place to eat locally (Besides the overpriced hotel restaurant)  we decided to get a ride to the Davis Island Yacht Club.

Oh yes!

We were challenged upon our entrance to the clubhouse and we were immediately welcomed like old family once I displayed my Yacht Club card. There was a nice lunch of hamburgers and we met new friends who were happy to have visitors to chat with. 

After a few adult beverages, we were even lucky enough to be invited for an afternoon sail with our new friends John and Ramon on a Sabre 28!

I sent these cellphone pictures to John with an invitation for them to cruise with the Barco from our home yacht club. I hope they come up soon, since we owe them big for taking us out on Tampa Bay.

John of el-j Productions, Tampa.


Engrossed in conversation

John's Dad was in the Coast Guard in WW2. He sails with John at all times.

Busy cockpit.
Davis Island Yacht Club is an incredibly vibrant sailing club and we enjoyed their company until darn near eight o'clock. The Commodore's Spouse was nice enough to get us back to the hotel. What a weekend, and it was just Saturday night!

Sunday we were up fairly early and packed up for the four hour drive back to the Cats and a return to a normal life. Hotel and Yacht Clubs take a toll on a body and we need to get healthy again.

This week, I will be busy with cleaning up the Barco interior for a weekend trip to Six Mile Creek, we have invited some folks to come with us so I better be ready for guests.

Have a great week!

Barco Out.


Buck said...

You are the very embodiment of "living well is the best revenge," Darryl. One wonders who or what you're avenging, though. ;-)

Barco Sin Vela II said...

Thanks, Buck!

We all have people in our past that we remember and who cannot be with us on our journey. So I do the Noel Coward thing out of nostalgia and sometimes of petty spite.