Make us your home page
Instagram

Dulcet, Noble Crust, Haven win Golden Spoons, but who got left off?

Last week, Florida Trend's annual Golden Spoon awards were announced, honoring Florida's best restaurants.

Although Florida Trend (its parent company also owns the Tampa Bay Times) serves the state's business community, for consumers, the Golden Spoons are a valuable barometer of just how our restaurants stack up against those in other regions around the state. And how did we do? It's complicated.

In its 42nd year, the Golden Spoons are decided by Chris Sherman, Florida Trend's restaurant editor and former food critic at the Times. Sherman singled out a number of our newcomers for awards this year: Dulcet in New Port Richey (a city that gets precious few props for its dining scene); Bern's new sibling Haven in Tampa; and Noble Crust and the Mill in St. Petersburg, the latter awarded the Robert W. Tolf Award for Best New Restaurant, named for the former Florida Trend restaurant editor. The brainchild of chef Ted Dorsey, the Mill was singled out for its "cider mussels, Southern-fried frog legs, wild game, foie gras and sweetbreads, rustic tarts and Taleggio-feta grilled cheese."

Avid diners will be confused, however, that hot restaurants such as Rooster and the Till, Roux and Ulele in Tampa, Castile in St. Pete Beach and Annata in St. Petersburg, which all received awards for New Restaurants last year, didn't make this year's list.

Sherman explained: "Basically, the new restaurants — places in business no more than two years — are the ones with the most exciting ideas going on. But they have to survive and be consistent, so after about three years is when they are eligible" for a regular Golden Spoon award.

That said, another popular restaurant seems notably missing: Greg and Michelle Baker's the Refinery in Seminole Heights.

"I think there is great stuff in Seminole Heights, and Greg has been a leader in that group," he said. "But I have not been as excited as other people about the Refinery."

When asked about current Florida restaurant trends, Sherman noted that "the trends are the same as last year, only a lot more of them: more gastropubs, barbecue, bakeries and burgers, regional Italian, small plates, 'street food,' craft beer, craft cocktails. Food trucks are settling down in fixed locations, and some of their ethnic specialties are now fair game on other menus like sticky buns, Korean barbecue, shawarma and falafel."

He was quick to point out other things that seemed red hot in 2015.

• The many new craft distilleries in Florida.

• Bacon a dozen ways, from octopus to duck and lamb, with house-cured, dried and smoked meat and fish for charcuterie. See: the Mill, Haven and Rooster and the Till.

• More pickles (hooray!).

• Steak and meat-centric menus are back, not that they ever went away. It's one place where high prices are an attraction. And butchers are getting their due. See: Jimmy P's in Naples.

• Cider and mead are on the rise.

• There's much more outdoor dining. "St. Petersburg's Beach Drive and Central Avenue have as many outdoor tables as Ocean Drive in Miami."

And according to him, among the most exciting developments are the odd fusions coming from ethnic chefs, "especially Asian and Latin like Finka Table and Tap in Miami (Cuban and Korean) or Noble Crust's crazy combination of Italian and Southern comforts."

So, what would he like to see less of on Florida tables? Fewer $14 cocktails, fewer salmon and tilapia dishes as the daily catch, and — here's a biggie — enough with the kale.

"I'm tired of kale salad and suspect everyone else is."

Even after a little grousing, the Florida Trend restaurant editor is bullish about the future.

"The whole industry is exploding. We're stunned by what's going on in St. Pete and Tampa. But that's true all over the state. And most of what is happening is in places that seat less than 100 people and with entrée prices under $20. It's a boom time."

Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.

The 2015 Golden Spoon awards

Here's how Tampa Bay area restaurants fared:

Clearwater: Cafe Ponte (Hall of Fame) and Rusty's Bistro

Clearwater Beach: Bob Heilman's Beachcomber (Hall of Fame) and Caretta on the Gulf

Dade City: Pearl in the Grove

Indian Shores: Salt Rock Grill

New Port Richey: Dulcet (new)

St. Pete Beach: Maritana Grille (Hall of Fame) (Castile fell off the list)

St. Petersburg: Marchand's Bar & Grill (Hall of Fame), the Mill (new), Noble Crust (new), Parkshore Grill and Z Grille (Annata fell off the list)

Tampa: Bern's Steak House (Hall of Fame), Columbia Restaurant (Hall of Fame), Edison, Haven (new), Mise en Place (Hall of Fame), Pane Rustica, Pelagia Trattoria, (Rooster and the Till, Roux and Ulele fell off the list)

Dulcet, Noble Crust, Haven win Golden Spoons, but who got left off? 12/02/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 2, 2015 9:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Fast-paced 'Seven Brides' is pure entertainment at Show Palace

    Stage

    Try not to blink if you go see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, playing through Nov. 12 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson. If you close your eyes even for a second, you may miss something terrific in this fast-paced, lively and delightfully entertaining show.

    "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" opens Oct. 14 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson. [The LightBox]
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 17

    Events

    Insane Clown Posse: The hip-hop duo is known for their supernatural and horror themed lyrics. 6 p.m., State Theatre, 687 Central Avenue North, St. Petersburg. $25. (727) 895-3045.

    The Insane Clown Posse attends the 2003 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena December 10, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 14th annual ceremony airs live tonight on FOX 8:00-10:00 PM ET Live/PT. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)
  3. Restaurant review: Noble Crust's second location is a boon to booming Wesley Chapel

    Food & Dining

    WESLEY CHAPEL

    Wesley Chapel is said to be one of the fastest growing areas in the country, due to the perfect cocktail of available and affordable land, broad but upwardly mobile demographics and easy access to other parts of Tampa Bay. And while malls and brick-and-mortar retail centers have taken a big hit in …

    The pizzas could use some refining at this location. Crusts struggled to stay crisp under toppings that were too heavy.
  4. This recipe for Meatless Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash is perfect for Meatless Monday

    Cooking

    This meal is so healthy, I am not even sure how it's so delicious. It's a perfect plate for Meatless Monday: filling yet fun, with "meatballs" made out of crushed nuts and strands of spaghetti squash. The whole thing freezes surprisingly well, too, just note that the squash will be a little watery upon defrost.

    Meatless Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash. Photos by Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor.
  5. Reviews: Beck's 'Colors,' St. Vincent's 'Masseduction' thrive in vibrant, alternative pop worlds

    Music & Concerts

    Flash back, if you will, to Aug. 25, 2015, and one of the more unusual stops on Taylor Swift's 1989 Tour. That night in Los Angeles, Swift brought out guests St. Vincent and Beck to perform the latter's single Dreams.

    St. Vincent attends the Special Escape Room Experience created by Spotify for St Vincent and their biggest fans to celebrate forthcoming album "Masseduction" on Oct. 4 in New York City.  (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Spotify)