The Rez Grill Tampa Review – Chef Frank Anderson Brings Class to the Casino
If you asked someone to close their eyes and imagine themselves in a casino, some of the things that may come to mind are bright, colorful lights; the soft, ambient sounds of a million slot machines dinging simultaneously; and, of course, the sweet aroma of mediocre buffet restaurants. However, that is all about to change for casino-goers at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, with the opening of The Rez Grill Tampa earlier this year. Chef Frank Anderson, formerly of the James Beard-awarded LA-based hotspots Animal and Son of a Gun, is here to switch up the old stereotype – now, you can get good food in a casino.
Clockwise from top left: Improved G&T; The Rez Cocktail; Machiatto Martini.
This lovely eatery is just adjacent to the slot floor at the Hard Rock, giving casino lovers the best of both worlds. The spot is rustic-meets-modern with great lighting, and screams fine dining despite the location. Before dinner, guests can sit at the large center bar and treat themselves to a cocktail with their winnings – or, drown their losing sorrows. A fun treat is the Improved G&T, complete with an elderflower-infused ice cube for a burst of flavor (and a cool photo opp).
Clockwise from top left: Pimento & Chicken Liver Pâté toasts; Cucumber & Heirloom Tomato Salad; Trio of Seafood.
Benton’s Country Ham, served with biscuits.
The Rez Grill Tampa offers a generous starter selection. The Benton’s Ham dish is not to be missed – I repeat, NOT TO BE MISSED. Thinly shaved ham served alongside fresh, steamy biscuits, complete with red pepper jam and red eye aioli to add-on. Also worth mentioning are the seafood selections – the King Crab was exceptionally fresh.
St. Louis Ribs with shoestring fries, house pickles, & sauces galore.
Ribeye-Cap with turnips, roasted shallots, and béarnaise.
Entree wise, we were treated to some southern comfort (like the Fried Chicken & Waffles and St. Louis Ribs) alongside some dinnertime classics with a twist (such as the Veal Chop Milanese and Ribeye-Cap). The southern dishes were both flavorful, and served with a variety of sauces, which were fun to mix & match. The shoestring fries were well-seasoned and not overcooked – easy to do with such a thin cut. The béarnaise on the ribeye-cap is melt-in-your-mouth, and the delicate, crispy Veal was perfectly refreshed by the caper-infused piccata.
Veal Chop Milanese with arugula salad, lemon, and fresh piccata (not pictured).
The dessert selection at The Rez is a force of its own, so those with a sweet tooth will not leave unsatisfied. The Pecan Pie was definitely a hit – yes, that is candied bacon resting delicately atop a pile of Jack Daniel’s ice cream and pie.
Clockwise from top: Pecan Pie; Chocolate Bundino; Espresso Crème Brûlée.
Chef Frank’s vision for The Rez Grill Tampa is a huge milestone for the long-stagnant casino. Fine dining with a great price point attracts a completely different demographic – especially on a local level – that may normally bypass it. Along with the Council Oak steakhouse, and plans for yet another fine-dining spot onsite, the Hard Rock Tampa is opening itself up to grow exponentially.
The Rez Grill Tampa is located at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 5223 N. Orient Road in Tampa. It is open for dinner from 5pm, Wednesday-Sunday.