My Belle and I had been to the Harold Seltzer's Steakhouse on north Dale Mabry in Tampa years ago. I remember the prime rib I was served was coated in a truly horrid pickling spice mixture that totally masked the flavor of the beef. I vowed never to return. It was a moot point. They shut down that restaurant not too long after.
That brings me to last night and one of those "never say never" moments. Both my bride and I were in the mood for a steak, but not one of those $50 steaks served just down the road from us on Gulf Boulevard. I suggested to the Belle that we give Harold another try at his dining den on Tyrone Boulevard. So, we went.
I called ahead and made reservations for 5:30 which turned out to be a grand idea. The place fills up quickly. We were immediately greeted and guided to a comfy booth in a wood paneled dining area. The walls were adorned with pictures of historic Tampa Bay area landmarks like the now restored Floridan Hotel in Tampa.
Hernando was our charming and efficient server for the evening. He presented us with menus and took our drink orders, a Crown Royal and Ginger Ale for my lady and a Southern Fashion Old Fashioned for me (Muddle an orange and a cherry with sugar, a shot of Southern Comfort, and add a splash of Angostura Bitters and a spritz of Club Soda).
Since we were dawdling over cocktails, taking our time making food decisions and since the dinner crowd was picking up, Hernando took a salt shaker and placed it on the edge of our table. He said when we are ready to order just move the shaker and he would be right over. Brilliant idea! When we moved the shaker, there he was.
For her entree, the Belle of Gulf Boulevard chose the six ounce Filet Mignon, medium well with a pink center, and a loaded baked potato. The steak was presented well done which was interesting considering the menu disclaimer: "Well-Done ...Broiled throughout (We do not recommend such grilling - it will be drier, less tender & less flavorful.)" No kidding! That steak was tough, dry and had little flavor. Go figure.
I decide to eschew the famous Seltzer prime rib and went with the "18 ounce Bone-in Rib Eye - Harold's Favorite Steak, Perfectly Aged, Tender, Juicy." I received that rib eye medium, as requested, but it was definitely not tender. It was light on flavor and chewed like a Publix choice. I had the creamed spinach as my side, and it was ... well, creamed spinach.
To accompany our steaks we chose an excellent bottle of Ménage à Trois, a California blend of Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. For dessert, the spectacular Napoleon, a house specialty with a light graham cracker crust on the bottom and beneath the icing, a rich whipped custard and whipped cream center and sugar icing.
I can't claim that Harold's is our most favorite steakhouse, but the wine was good with a very reasonable price, the Napoleon was excellent as was the service. Maybe best of all, we got out of there for just $92.78. We added an 20% gratuity for Hernando.