Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dining Quality on Rise but .

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dining Quality on Rise but .

Article excerpt

I'm not trying to start anything. I'm just pointing it out because it struck me as odd.

You see, Florida Trend magazine just came out with its 32nd annual Golden Spoon Awards where it designates the state's 20 best restaurants as well as the 20 best new restaurants and the top 200 in the state.

Let me repeat, I'm not trying to stir up trouble, but this St. Petersburg-based magazine failed to recognize any Northeast Florida restaurants among its 20 best. To be fair, it cited Matthew's at San Marco among the 20 best new restaurants.

Oh, restaurants from Orlando, Palm Beach, Tampa, Coral Gables, Miami and even Pensacola are on the Golden Spoon list, but not one Jacksonville bistro garnered a nod.

I've never been one to embrace this civic pride notion of Florida's First Coast, but it did bother me a tad that no restaurant from Amelia Island to St. Augustine was ranked as good as those from the southern part of the state.

I'm no restaurant critic; believe me I wouldn't take the job unless ordered at gunpoint. I'm not up for all the cloak-and-dagger activity necessary to keep the restaurant critic's identity a secret.

But I needed to know what we lacked in this area. So, I called Robert W. Tolf, restaurant editor for Florida Trend, whose job is to eat his way around the state to compile this list.

When judging a restaurant, Tolf said he looks to see what it is intending to do, and then judges how well they are doing it.

"I've been doing this for 25 years. At one time I was told to go to this one restaurant in Northeast Florida because it was the only place in town where all the silverware matched. You are obviously a long way from that," he said.

For years, Jacksonville's restaurant growth was stunted by the community's appreciation for private club dining, he explained. …

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