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'Florida Trend' bestows 2008 Golden Spoon Awards on top restaurants

Florida Trend has published its annual list of Golden Spoon Awards, restaurant honors based on assessments of exceptional food, service and decor. A statewide business magazine, Florida Trend is owned by Times Publishing Co., which also publishes the St. Petersburg Times.

For 34 years, Fort Lauderdale resident Robert W. Tolf combed the state in search of Spoon-worthy restaurants. This year, the job was assumed by former Times restaurant critic Chris Sherman, who added more than a dozen Golden Spoons to the list of award winners. Among them are two new Hall of Fame winners, California Grill in Orlando and Matthew's at San Marco in Jacksonville.

For diners in the Tampa Bay area, Sherman's nearly 20 years of eating and critiquing in the area is sure to shed light on this part of the state. For now, local Golden Spoon winners include Cafe Ponte in Clearwater, the Maritana Grille at the Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach, and Pelagia Trattoria, Restaurant BT and SideBern's, all in Tampa. The local Hall of Famers lineup is Bern's Steak House, Columbia Restaurant and Mise en Place, all in Tampa.

Sherman's list of the 20 best new restaurants lavished some welcome attention on Pinellas and Hillsborough counties' newcomers, naming the Venue in St. Petersburg and Grille One Sixteen and Smoke Barbecue, both in Tampa. Still, Sherman's favorite find this year requires a road trip: A Winter Park gastropub called the Ravenous Pig picked up this year's top new restaurant award. For the full list and reviews, go to www.floridatrend.com.

Laura Reiley can be reached at lreiley@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2293. Her blog, the Mouth of Tampa Bay, is at www.blogs. tampabay.com/dining.

'Florida Trend' bestows 2008 Golden Spoon Awards on top restaurants 12/02/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 3:30am]
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