Superb Steaks and More at Harold Seltzer’s Steak House

June 3rd, 2011

Rebranded steak house has classic flavor.

Harold Seltzer’s Steak HouseIt was with mixed feelings that I read the reports of the closing of Sam Seltzer’s Steak Houses in the Tampa Bay area. I had a generally good opinion of them but thought food and service in the Port Richey location was inconsistent. Then, reading that the restaurant was reopening under the name Harold Seltzer’s Steak Houses at a select few locations, I was pleased to find that one was in the Gulf View Square Mall.

Still, it took a little while for me to find my way back. And for that, I am disappointed. I could have been enjoying their delicious steaks for several months.

The ambience at the Port Richey restaurant is unchanged. You enter a darkly paneled lobby where your party is greeted by smiling hostesses. You then wend your way through a warren of rooms designed to provide a cozy, comfortable dining venue. Our server arrived promptly with piping hot dinner rolls, ready for our drink orders, and continued serving us impeccably through the rest of the meal.

Harold Seltzer’s Steak HouseThe menu boasts a full selection of steaks, ribs and prime rib entrées but also has an extensive offering of seafood. I started with the French onion soup, which was sweet, the cheese crust baked until just bubbling and golden brown.

Entrées are served with salad and a side dish. My tenderloin kebab was perfectly medium, my baked potato heaped with sour cream, and the salad was fresh with just the right amount of blue cheese dressing. Similarly, the bacon cheeseburger proved to be almost too much for my dining companion. The prime rib was tender and lean and the filet mignon melted on the tongue like butter. You can add a béarnaise or brandy peppercorn (they’ve never called it “au poivre” for some reason) sauce for an additional charge, but the meat stands very well on its own.

We ended our meal with delicious, rich coffee and desserts. My key lime pie was creamy and tart, the carrot cake was rich and spicy and the apple pie, served a la mode, was warmed and tasty.

Yes, Harold Seltzer has certainly redeemed himself with the re-opening of the family business. I think grandpa Sam would be proud.

Harold Seltzer’s Steak House

9409 US Highway 19 N
Port Richey, FL 34668
(727) 807-7777

Mon – Thurs: 12 – 10 pm
Fri – Sat: 12 – 10:30 pm
Sun: 12 – 9 pm

By Thomas Belkowski | Email the author |

Harold Seltzer’s Steakhouse revives tradition of good food at good price

April 6th, 2011


Surf and Turf (filet and lobster tail)

Surf and Turf (filet and lobster tail) is served with mixed vegetables at the St. Petersburg steak house, which reopened in October.

Before going to a restaurant I plan to review, I try to do a little homework. Find out a little bit about how it came to be, take a look at the menu and try to discern what might be the best dishes to judge. Find out what they are known for, or want to be, at least.

That can be pretty easy these days. Just sit at a computer and type the name of the restaurant into a search engine. I did just that in preparing to visit Harold Seltzer’s Steakhouse.

I found that the Web address for the restaurant is So my research was pretty much complete.

Harold Seltzer’s Steakhouse is the reincarnation of the Sam Seltzer’s brand, which had as many as six locations during a 15-year run that ended when it closed in May.

After the abrupt end, Harold Seltzer (grandson of the original namesake) went to work to regain the concept and reopen the restaurants. In October, about five months after the closing, he opened the St. Petersburg and Port Richey locations.

Both look mostly the same. The iconic sign has the same look, save the replacement of Sam’s name with Harold’s (a change necessitated by bankruptcy proceedings). The herd of faux steer is still out front. The interior motif is heavy on the dark wood, though it all got a good refinishing to freshen up the place. And for a little nostalgia, replicas of vintage postcards from the area are blown up and used as wall art.

"Customers ask me every night if Sam is here. He was 90 when we opened the first restaurant in 1995," says Harold, who sold his share of the business in 2004.

Enough with the history and the amenities. Let’s get to that meat.

I tried the 1-pound cut of prime rib ($15.95), but there are half- and 2-pound options, depending on your appetite. I ordered medium rare, and while I probably got a cut that was closer to medium, the meat was tender and juicy. There was a large lobe of fat at the tail. I’m glad it was there during the roasting process, because that’s a source of juiciness, but it has served its purpose by the time the meat is on the plate. The proprietary spice rub added good seasoning to the bites that included it, but because the rub is only on the outer edge of each slice of roast, a lot of the meat seemed underseasoned.

Harold Seltzer is carrying on his grandfather's legacy

Harold Seltzer is carrying on his grandfather’s legacy in St. Petersburg and Port Richey, pleasing a dedicated clientele.

That problem could be addressed with the addition of horseradish sauce, and Seltzer’s offers a regular and a creamy. The regular provided a nice pungent hit. Any horseradish that might have been in the creamy version got lost.

So, is it the "best prime rib"? I want restaurants to be proud of their product, so I appreciate expressions of confidence like that. But ultimately, those are personal decisions and don’t really tell anyone anything. I think if the declaration was that the prime rib was a great value, I wouldn’t take issue. It was a good chunk of meat, well prepared, and the price included bread, a salad and a side. At $15.95, that’s a good value.

We had similar reactions to the filet (6 ounces for $14.95; 9 ounces for $19.95) and the ribeye (14 ounces for $18.95; 18 ounces for $19.95). Pork chops ($14.95) were well grilled, keeping thin-cut chops juicy. The surprise hit was a blackened mahimahi ($14.95). The 8-ounce fillet was a beautiful piece of fish, simply seasoned with a subtle lemon-butter sauce.

Subtlety played no role in the appetizers we tried. That was a good thing in the classic shrimp cocktail ($7.95) and its spicy house-made cocktail sauce, and the coconut shrimp ($7.95) with its orange marmalade-based sauce that gets much more interesting with the addition of hot mustard. Conversely, the fried onion blossom ($6.95) could have used a little subtlety. Aggressive seasoning made it hard to get too deep into it.

The wine list stays with the theme of simple and affordable. Only one bottle of bubbly stretches beyond $30. Service was very friendly but sometimes required some reminding.

Harold Seltzer worked for months to be able to bring back the business that originally bore his grandfather’s name, and is still working to get back in other markets. He says he did it to be there for employees he thought were unceremoniously let go by previous management and to fill a niche with a dedicated customer base.

"Every night, I’m in the dining room and people tell me how glad they are we’re back. It gets emotional. They remember birthday parties here, or this was their dad’s favorite place, or they were engaged here. It has been a little overwhelming."

By Jim Webster, Times Food Critic | Read the Article | from: St. Petersburg Times

Seltzer’s steakhouse back in business, but Sam’s not around

October 20th, 2010

Harold Seltzer to reopen two Seltzer’s Steakhouses with his name on them

October 20th, 2010

The founder of Sam Seltzer’s Steakhouse in the Tampa Bay area is resurrecting two of them under a slightly different name next week.

And he is offering to make amends with customers stiffed by gift cards made worthless by the chain’s abrupt closing on May 17.

Harold Seltzer, a 53-year-old restaurateur who sold his interest in the chain of six stores in 2004, had to bite his lip a lot about his creation’s fate.

“It has been incredibly painful watching a company that carries my family name skid downhill under other owners for years, then be dragged through the mud” in such an unceremonious end, he said.

Management left 300 people jobless, then unplugged the phones, leaving thousands of customers clamoring for their gift card money.

“I started working on how to pull all this off right after the closing, partly because my heart went out to all those employees, many of whom I hired years ago,” Seltzer said.

Previously named for Harold’s grandfather Sam, a Montreal butcher who never owned a restaurant, the new version will be called Harold Seltzer’s Steakhouse. The menu will feature most of the same moderately priced dishes and aged USDA choice Angus beef the chain served when Harold Seltzer was in charge.

The St. Petersburg store at 3500 Tyrone Blvd. reopens Oct. 27, the one in Gulf View Square mall in Port Richey will reopen on Oct. 28.

To make up for an estimated $262,000 worth of outstanding gift cards previous owners were not around to honor, Seltzer will offer one free prime rib dinner for each card presented.

The limit is one card per table per night. No one knows how many cards are out there, much less who holds them. “It’s not my debt,” said Seltzer, who figures he’s giving away 10,000 meals if the average card balance was $25. “But I am trying hard to make it right.”

Seltzer resigned as Sam Seltzer’s president in 2002, then sold his interest after an ugly dispute in 2004, turning over his stake to a group led by his cousin Michael. Michael Seltzer ceded control to lenders after an ill-fated expansion drive in 2009. The company grew to 11 stores, then had to close all five of the new ones scattered from Orlando to Fort Myers.

Each of the remaining six stores — all but one leased — was incorporated separately so each is being liquidated in its own bankruptcy case. A mortgage holder has a secured lien against the Clearwater store.

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy of the parent company, Sam Seltzer’s of America, was dismissed after a plan to reorganize its finances fell apart, leading to the store closings this spring.

A “poor man’s bankruptcy case” done under state law was filed in Hillsborough County Circuit Court in September to split up the remaining assets among creditors.

Secured creditors claim to be owed $2 million while unsecured creditors, including gift card holders, are owed $1.8 million. Assets are estimated at $53,000.

“Gift card holders are far down the priority list of creditors with claims,” said Suzy Tate, a Tampa lawyer handling the case before Circuit Judge Martha Cook.

Gift card holders who want to attempt getting a refund can mail claims to an accountant helping manage the wind down. The address is Larry Hyman, P.O. Box 18625, Tampa, FL 33679.

Mark Albright can be reached at or (727) 893-8252.

Seltzer’s Steakhouse owner opens new restaurants

October 20th, 2010

Bay News 9

Seltzer’s Steakhouse owner opens new restaurants

Bay Area, The founder of Sam Seltzer’s Steakhouse is opening two new restaurants.

Harold Seltzer is opening the restaurants, according to Bay News 9’s Partner newspaper the St. Petersburg Times. The new restaurants will open in locations that used to house Sam Seltzer’s restaurants.

The chain’s six locations in the Bay area closed in May. The chain had restaurants in Port Richey, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Fort Myers and Sarasota.

Two locations, in St. Petersburg and Port Richey, will reopen next week under the name ‘Harold Seltzer’.

The St. Petersburg store at 3500 Tryone Blvd. reopens Oct. 27 the one in Gulf View Square mall in Port Richey will reopen on Oct. 28.

According to Seltzer, anyone who has a gift card will be given a 1-pound prime rib diner with all the fixings for each gift card (approximately a $16 value).

Read the Article