Saturday, June 7, 2008

The King of all Steaks

There is a very special tree on the corner of 441 and Stirling Road in Broward County. Next time you roll toward the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, take a minute to look at it. It is the original "Council Oak" where previous generations of Seminole Tribe elders and tribal members met for community meetings. Hence, the flagship restaurant at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is aptly named "Council Oak" after that legendary tree.

I first ate at the Council Oak a few years ago shortly after the casino opened. The reason? A 20 percent off coupon that came to me in the mail. Ever since that fateful night, I have been a fan of the "Oak".

Upon entering through the casino, you are in full view of the meats through the display window. The dark rich mahogany and leather seem to make the place look more traditional than it actually is. The Oak offers your typical steakhouse fare, salads, appetizers, fish, and of course, the steaks.

The appetizers were an iceberg salad wedge topped with crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, bacon, and a homemade bleu cheese dressing and a hot and cold combination dish containing jumbo lump crab meat and diced lobster tail. The wedge was nearly perfect. The lettuce was crisp, cold, and presented as if made for royalty. The toppings blended perfectly together and made a fused salad that is second to none. The other appetizer was chilled crab with hot lobster tail. Both were served in a radicchio shell. The crab was served with a mild cocktail sauce and the lobster with drawn butter. Both were very good but the wedge blew me away.

Here come the steaks. We ordered the 14oz Fillet and the Heavy Cut New York Strip. The Oak dry ages it's beef, a rarity in this day and age. For those not in the know, dry aging beef is a more costly option than wet aging beef. Dry aging requires a large inventory to rotate, special care and handling, and there is up to a one third loss of the meat during the process. Wet aging is done inside a vacuum sealed bag so there is no loss of weight, and aging happens rapidly and thus, cheaper to produce. Most steakhouses you eat at use the wet aging method.

The strip was ordered medium rare, and the fillet ordered medium, both came out right. The strip was tender, flavorful, and the natural scent of the meat was overwhelming. I found my mouth watering as I sliced into the center. This my friends, is a steak the way the almighty intended it to be eaten. The fillet was equally as good. The sides ordered were a baked potato and hash browns. The potato was good and the hash browns were well done and had a crispy exterior shell, just like it should be. I paired this with a Clos du Val Cabernet which was a match made in heaven. Additionally, as a nice touch , everyone is served Fiji bottled water throughout the meal at no additional cost.

Desert was a peanut butter bar with espresso ice cream on the side, and a scoop of Dulce de Leche ice cream. Both were yummy. I do wish they would reincarnate the dark chocolate oak tree filled with peanut butter ice cream they used to offer as their signature desert. Espresso Macchiato's were also good. Service was very good throughout the meal, but be careful of the server's recommendations, he is not on a budget.

With Blackjack, Pai-Gow Poker, and Let it Ride coming to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on June 22, 2008, I expect the Oak will be getting a large boost in popularity and reviews in the very near future. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go to the Oak. Where dry aged beef has no match.

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