Dining in Florida
Steaking their claim: Steak houses in Florida
» Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Tampa
Florida-based Darden, which already bought Longhorn and Capital Grille, has still another brand in the trophy races, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, for turf as well as surf.
Eddie V’s was born in Texas, where it still has six of its nine locations. It takes big-shot dining into cooler, nightclub retro zone with earthy tones, more stone than wood and leather and live jazz.
The first Florida Eddie V is in Tampa in the steak-heavy environs of Tampa International Airport.
As billed, Eddie V has more choices in seafood starting with lobster tacos and a shellfish tower. There are a dozen finfish and shell, handsomely plated and smartly trimmed with the likes of succotash and pork shank or mango, avocado and cashews.
Steaks range from $39 to $46 with contemporary sides, like Brussels sprouts with bacon, roasted beets and candied walnuts or fries with Parmesan and chives.
» Seagar’s, Destin
Seagar’s, the main restaurant at the Hilton, has been the top-dollar steak house in the Panhandle for years, and this year a new management team kicked it up a notch further.
The interior is blue with sailcloth colors, and the menu features a big seafood expansion, from a clever pair of raw tartares (tuna and red snapper) to a shiny three-tiered shellfish tower.
Modernized trimmings include tarragon gnocchi with scallops, a napoleon of stacked eggplant, green tomato and crab and a watercress salad that pairs watermelon and lavender.
Beef remains the main event, with filet mignon custom cut from 1 to 2 inches thick and the top-of-the-line $68 porterhouse weighing in at 28 ounces.
» Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, Miami
No Puck here. Think of the oldest steak house name -- Peter Luger’s of Brooklyn. It’s been there for 125 years, and for decades Wolfgang Zwiener was the head waiter. Today he has opened four steak houses of his own.
The menu is short, yet long on the classic old-school bests — seafood appetizers, tomato salads, cottage fries. Then comes the big guns, a 3-pound lobster and a porterhouse for four.
The true indulgence may come last. Every dessert, from apple strudel to tiramisu, can come with "schlag" — a puff of German-style whipped cream made in-house.