This 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, the Golden Spoons are a valuable consumer tool. Because Florida restaurants seldom feature heavily in national evaluations such as Zagat, the James Beard Awards and the Michelin Guide (almost all of the Michelin-rated restaurants in the United States are in New York), the Golden Spoon, celebrating its 41st anniversary this year, provides a unique opportunity to assess Florida's dining scene as a whole and to compare one region with another.
So, how'd the Tampa Bay area do?
We rocked it.
Hillsborough County nabbed three spots for best new restaurant: Rooster and the Till, Roux and Ulele, all in Tampa. Pinellas County had Castile in St. Pete Beach and Annata in St. Petersburg. By way of comparison, Orlando had only two notable newcomers and Sarasota had none.
According to Chris Sherman, Florida Trend's restaurant editor and former food critic at the Tampa Bay Times, the unifying theme this year was small plates, whether they're called "starters, apps, bar food, antipasti, mezze, sushi, antojitos or tapas, small plates now often outnumber and outdo traditional entrees 30 years after Americans were introduced to 'the little dishes of Spain.' "
That holds true for many of our area's new winners, good news for diners who like to graze. Sherman also noted that this year more restaurants are using Florida ingredients, a trend that is sure to continue with a raft of Tampa Bay newcomers poised to open in December.
Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley.