This past Friday night Traci took me to Charley's Steak House to celebrate my birthday. Charley's is located near the Tampa airport off W. Cypress. Charley's also has several locations in Orlando, where the old-Florida styled steakhouse got its start.
I had never been to Charley's before, but had heard good things about it from several friends. Charley's regularly makes a variety of "top steak house" lists. A few weeks earlier I had dined at Bern's Steak House on S. Howard and I was interested in seeing how the two compared.
Maybe I just caught Bern's on and off time, but I thought my steak and meal overall was better at Charley's. In terms of unique experience, it's hard to beat Bern's world-class wine collection, famous dessert room and the rich history of the place. I can understand why it has become a Tampa institution, but the next time I want a great steak, I'm going back to Charley's - not Bern's.
For our appetizer we ordered the beef Carpaccio. My only complaint was that there wasn't more of this tasty delight on our plate and it was drizzled a little too heavily with what tasted like a spicy creole mustard. For our main course, I ordered a filet topped with a lump crabmeat mixture and Traci ordered a grilled chicken with a slice of pineapple and cherry. Charley's flame broils all of its meat over a natural wood burning pit which gives the meat a unique flavor. Each entree came with a small house salad. For sides, we went with creamed spinach and fried green tomatoes.
My filet was nicely done and the lump crabmeat was a nice topper. I had a few bites of Traci's chicken and thought it was well done, too. The fried green tomatoes weren't too greasy and were lightly breaded. The creamed spinach was a little bit of a disappointment. Just okay, nothing great. For dessert, we had a flour-less warm chocolate brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Throw in a bottle of wine and two glasses of a dessert wine, and overall we had a very enjoyable experience.
What's your favorite steak house in Tampa Bay?
Bottom-line: If you're looking for great steaks and top quality service in a more casual setting, at prices a notch under Bern's, then Charley's Steak House is a great choice. I'll definitely be back.
Inspection Scorecard: Last Inspection - August 2006 - violations - Critical (0), Non-Critical (0).