If you're looking for one of the best steakhouses in Tampa, a hotel and casino might not be one of the first places you'd think to look, Council Oak, though, located inside the Seminole Hard Rock, might just be giving some of Tampa's longest-lasting and most well-revered steakhouses a run for their money by the looks (and taste) of it.

This premium steak house is the crown jewel of Hard Rock dining, boasting a boxy, modern, and wood-paneled interior that's near-futuristic given how sleek it looks.

Sleek extends to Council Oak's service too as we're ushered to our seats and greeted by an enthusiastic female server who's just as quick on her toes as she is reciting the specials and giving recommendations like she's worked there for 20 years.

There's a variety of deluxe appetizers available including everything from Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes to Prime Beef Carpaccio to kick start your dining experience at Council Oak.  Saving room for the steak to come, though, French Onion Soup is a viable option.

This massive bowl (chalice?) comes served with a thick layer of melted gruyere over an onion-rich soup that almost seems to get better with every slurp and works as a great primer for the even-massive-er steak entree to come.

The 26-ounce Long Bone Cowboy Ribeye almost beckons you to try it from the menu.  Aged 21 days and served with a big freakin' bone still attached, this meaty monstrosity is absolute bliss from the first bite.  There's bits of fatty marbling throughout, but hardly any of that gristle-y texture and a deep, bold flavor you could only get from dry-aging it for that long.

Truly, a special treat, and worth every last cent if you can swing it.

Dessert seemed almost like an impossibility after 26 ounces of steak-ful bliss, but somehow, we find it not too hard to pass up warm salted carmel molten lava cake.

Digging in, the carmel center oozes out of the cake into a puddle of (more) salted, melty carmel that blends the best of savory and sweet for a one of a kind flavor you won't easily forget.  A scoop of chocolate covered pretzel ice cream rounds things out nicely with a cool, sweet flavor profile that contrasts nicely with the salty caramel.

If you're gonna go big, and you're looking for a nice change of pace from the longtime players in the Tampa steakhouse scene, Council Oak will more than oblige.  See for yourself, then let us know what you think with your own rating and review on the Council Oak 813area.com business listing.