by Michael Satterfield

On my recent trip to Tampa Bay, we let our friends at Hard Rock Hotels know we were going to be in the area, they invited us to sample their latest fine dining experience at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, The Rez Grill.

Like all Hard Rock properties I have stayed at, the Seminole Hard Rock is buzzing with activity from the moment we arrive, the casino floor is busy, the new L-Bar has a live band playing, and it was a good thing we had a reservation, as the dinner rush was still in full swing. 

The Rez Features a Chef-Driven menu under the direction of Frank Anderson who has spent the last 20 years directing award-winning restaurants in Los Angeles before being tapped to bring his unique vision to The Rez Grill. Frank stopped by our table and explained the process that he and Chef De Cuisine Matthew Zappoli used to construct the menu, which centered on taking classic dishes from the South and a giving them an international twist, and in the same vein, taking global cuisine and infusing it was a little Southern-Soul. The result is a diverse, yet complementary, menu that has something for just about everyone.    

The appetizers include Maryland Crab Cakes with white lighting sauce or a Beef Tartare "with all the fixins." We opted for the Benton' Ham, house biscuits, cherry-pepper jam, and red-eye aioli. The biscuits may have been the best biscuits I have ever had in my life, (sorry Granny), and the mix of flavors from the cured ham and sweet/spicy cherry-pepper jam, over the biscuit, was perfect, and honestly I could have just had another order of the Benton's Ham and been perfectly happy for the night.

The entrees range from Southern Classics like Chicken and Waffles to Lobster Thermidor, as well as steaks, pasta, and a few shareable dishes. Jenifer had the Skuna Bay Salmon, served over a bed of caulilini with lemon-miso emulsion. The flavors were well balanced and the fish was cooked perfectly. 

I went with the half order of Chicken and Waffles, which was enough for two, but if a restaurant is touting its Southern credentials, a good test is how good their fried chicken is. The brass basin of that it is served in also includes syrup, citrus butter, and a very nice hot sauce. There are also shareable sides, whipped potatoes, broccolini, blistered green beans, brussels sprouts, and basmati rice.  

Desert is a choice of Chocolate Budino, Espresso Crème Brûlée, Lemon Curd, and Brûléed Apple Bread Pudding, we decided to split the Chocolate Budino, which is a dulce de leche, soft cream, and chocolate soil. Each element by itself is almost unimpressive, but when eating as suggested by our waiter, in bites that combined all of the layers, it blends into a smooth chocolate flavor.

Entree prices range from $24-65, while sides are all set at $8 each, starters and salads range between $11-25. The Rez Grill also offers a full bar and comprehensive wine list. While the restaurant is popular with guests, it is also a great standalone destination for anyone in the Tampa Bay. 

To see the full menu CLICK HERE.
To book a table or for more information CLICK HERE

For more from this trip check out Jennifer's Site