Council Oak Steaks and Seafood at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Hollywood has closed — but the restaurant will return in a temporary location next week. The resort’s signature Sunday brunch will now be served at Kuro, a high-end Japanese eatery — but it will still feature omelet, pasta and carving stations.
With construction ongoing as a new $1.5 billion guitar-shaped hotel tower and indoor complex with shops and restaurants takes shape, there has been much disruption to the dining and nightlife scene at the Seminole property. Council Oak, the pricey chophouse where high rollers and big winners celebrate, is the latest to get caught in the shuffle. The restaurant is moving to an interim home near the hotel’s ballrooms and the temporary new Hard Rock Event Center performance venue, with dinner service resuming Tuesday, April 17.
The original wood-burnished home of Council Oak closed for good on Sunday. The restaurant eventually will move to a new complex near the guitar tower, an enclosed shopping and dining pavilion similar to those found at luxury resorts in Las Vegas. The new 450-foot, 640-room guitar tower is scheduled to be complete in summer 2019, with adjoining stores and restaurants to follow.
Other restaurants in the current casino — The Bol, Hard Rock Café, Blue Plate, the food court — remain open for now, but resort officials say more changes could be coming in future months.
Staying put for sure is Kuro, a highly regarded and well-designed dining room with an open kitchen and sky-lit bar that overlooks the resort’s pool. “Kuro is one of the areas that we are not going to touch,” said Pablo Astardjian, director of restaurants for Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood.
Resort officials are staying mum on specifics of which restaurants will open in the new complex, other than to say it will include an array of cuisines, styles and price points, with some regional and national celebrity chefs in the mix. Steve Martorano recently said negotiations to bring another outpost of his popular Italian-American restaurant to the revamped Hard Rock were ongoing.
“Who’s coming, who’s staying — it’s too early to say,” Astardjian said. “Everything is up for conversation. We’re seeking to elevate our dining offerings and service, comparable to what guests find in Las Vegas or anywhere in the world.”
Speaking of elevation, the price of the signature Sunday brunch increased to $79 (from $69), excluding tax and tip, after the recent move from Council Oak to Kuro. Astardjian said the hike is attributable to some of the more expensive cuts of sushi and sashimi that are now included in the brunch buffet. Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday and includes unlimited mimosas, Bloody Marys or sparkling wine. The brunch features 10 food stations, including a chef-attended sushi station; a raw bar with Alaskan king crab legs, shrimp and oysters; omelets, waffles, pastas, charcuterie, salads and a carving station with Beef Wellington, lamb chops and pork belly. A rotating dessert selection will be prepared by pastry chef Ross Evans.
As for Council Oak, Astardjian said the temporary move is challenging, but that all key staff has remained with the restaurant. Council Oak has built a full bar and 180-seat dining room with a clubby, steakhouse atmosphere similar to the original, and has moved more than 4,000 bottles of wine. The temporary digs will also feature a private dining room and a few new Italian menu items.
“Everything on that side of the hotel is new — new kitchens, new banquet space,” Astardjian says. “We spent more than $1 million on renovations to make it feel like you’re not sitting in the middle of a ballroom.”