Charley's Steakhouse (Update)
 Tampa, Florida           Date of Visit  12/23/13             Website

We are in FLA for supremely and wonderfully laid back Christmas festivities and while we ate in a good bit, we did get out to a few places during our stay. On a previous visit I had been treated to a trip to Charlie’s and had been looking forward to Steph getting a chance to sample their wares. The ambiance and service are still exemplary. I got better pictures this time, the succulent steak, the tender fried alligator, the baked potato was just a hint less than my first. All were delicious.


Still Great Steaks...Butterflied For Mid Well

Or Whole For Mid Raw

We also tried the lobster bisque, which was tasty with loads of lobster but needed more shell extraction in the broth to put it at the top of the list. They didn’t have the Carpaccio, which was a bummer (so good) but we replaced it with crab cakes. These two mounds shouldn’t be referred to as “cakes”. Most crab cakes we’ve had are overloaded with binder and devoid of the crabby part. These things were essentially mounds of jumbo lump crab held together more by the scoop that deposited them than anything else, a veritable crab extravaganza. They were also smoked on a cedar plank which lent them a warm note of smoke. I have no idea how these stayed together. We also split a lobster tail which was deftly dismantled tableside and flayed out for the table. Score two great dinners at Charlie's.


Love These Rolls

Gator Batter Even Better This Trip

Server Dismantled Tail To Share

The Bisque Had Plenty Of Actual Lobster, Needed More Essence In Broth

All Crab; No Clutter

The Tater

Charley's Steakhouse
 Tampa, Florida           Date of Visit  12/07/12             Website

On a previous trip towards Tampa we had dinner at the famed Bern’s Steakhouse. Fraught with history and pomp we had a good experience…soon afterwards we learned that Bern’s had been fibbing about some of their home produced ingredients. Too bad. As we were returning to St. Pete Beach full of Bern’s our host passed Charley’s and promised us a better steak in a more relaxed atmosphere. Well, I’m back and there is no way I’m passing that up so it’s back across the bridge to join a new friend and give the place a try.



Tasty Calamari Couldn't Quite Hold It's Crisp

First, I apologize for the pictures...they are horrible. I tried without the flash and there was no avoiding the graininess. When we take Steph I will flash away.

Bern’s was classical and Charlie’s appears classic. The service is high quality and friendly without much expectation on the diner. You can sit back and relax and they do all the work from filling your beverages to dressing your potato. My host is typically a smart eater but somehow I managed to infect him and we completely over-ordered as has become de-rigueur for website restaurants. We sat transfixed by some wild but true tales from my new acquaintance as our three appetizers appeared…Calamari, Carpaccio and Gator. The calamari was definitely tender and tasty mixed with onions and peppers and glazed with a sweet and tangy sauce, plus some marinara for dipping. The only downside was the loss of crispness in the breading which had some difficulty hanging on to the squid bits.

Surprisingly Wonderful Gator Nuggies

Simply Gorgeous

What really surprised me was the gator. The breading struggled to stay on these small nuggets of formerly fearsome creature just like the calamari. With the gator I didn’t expect much. I have had gator twice before and found it distastefully chewy and bland but I had never had it at as nice a place or anywhere near the water. While it doesn’t hold a great deal of it’s own flavor the gator at Charley’s was succulent and tender. Imagine irregularly shaped and tender fried chicken bites with a complex tartar-saucish dipping sauce and you would be headed in the right direction. Andy was right about the Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio, it is ethereal. Lightly dressed and served with toast points, chopped onion and capers it literally melts away leaving a rounded beefiness on the palate.

Unique And Hot Dinner Rolls

A Little Too Much Dressing But The Olive Tone Is Very Nice

The house salad was a little overdressed but the vinaigrette has a nice green olivey punch to the romaine and tomatoes for a light but delicious precursor to steak time. I ordered the strip steak and a baker. The potato deserves mention for two reasons. First, the monster is prepared perfectly. The interior steams once the skin is breached but there is no dampness in the airily light and plush starch contained inside. The apex of baked potato. Secondly, your server cracks the tuber open table side and will load it with the standard steakhouse dairy and pig. I’m struggling to remember a better baked potato.


Our Server Loads Up What Turns Out To Be

A Memorable Potato? Yes. It's That Good.

The Deliciously Beefy House Strip

At A Perfect Mid Rare

The steak looked wonderful, charred over a screaming hot mesquite wood fire. Mine did have a strip of inedible silverskin running through it, which happens. Outside of that, the cut was done to a perfect mid rare and was scrumptiously beefy. I didn’t add any of the possible adornments but the steak comes with the tell tale puddle of butter to take that delicious fattiness to its ridiculous conclusion. In my opinion the steak had a superior flavor to Bern’s version as did the Carpaccio. We finished with a rich peanut butter mousse pie topped with crunchy chocolate and caramel sauce. Nicely done. I’m sort of pleased Steph couldn’t make this trip down to Florida…it guarantees another trip to Charley’s.

Peanut Butter Mousse Pie Completed A Fabulous Meal

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