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2011 Silver Spoon Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FINE DINING
NEIGHBORHOOD FAVORITE
UPSCALE CASUAL
WINE LIST
BEST ETHNIC
BEST CHEF(S)
BEST DESSERTS
BEST VIEWS
BEST DÉCOR
BEST FOOD TRUCK
BEER SELECTION
BAR FOOD
MOST ROMANTIC
BEST PLACE FOR A BUSINESS MEETING
LONGTIME FAVORITES
SERVICE
BRUNCH
OUTDOOR DINING
BEST KEPT SECRET
HAPPY HOUR
BREAKFAST
BEST NEW PLACE
JUDGES’ BEST OUT-OF-TOWN

READER'S CHOICE

BREAKFAST
LATE NIGHT
WINE LIST
DESSERT
SERVICE
SERVER
CHEF
TAKE OUT
APPETIZER
COCKTAIL
BEER
DELI
PIZZA
BURGER
BUFFET
COFFEE
SUSHI
HAPPY HOUR
DATE PLACE
FAMILY PLACE
AFRICAN
AMERICAN
BBQ
BRAZILIAN
CARRIBEAN
CHINESE
CREOLE
CUBAN
FRENCH
GERMAN
GREEK
INDIAN
MIDDLE EASTERN
SEAFOOD
SOUL
STEAKHOUSE
THAI
VEGETARIAN
VIETNAMESE

MEET THE JUDGES

by Michael McLeod • photographs by Greg Johnston

We have a food truck that offers five-star cuisine, a restaurant with a view of giraffes and wildebeests, a chef with a green thumb and another who invented a whole New World. We have a dessert from another century and one that arrives in flames. We have a Manhattan steakhouse with a Disney World view. We have 200 bottles of beer on the wall. Welcome to the 2011 edition of the Silver Spoon Awards, in which our panel of foodies recognizes culinary excellence among local eateries. There’s an accompanying readers’ poll. As you’ll discover, Orlando’s dining scene boasts a broad and often surprising array of unique individuals, settings, and above all, cuisine.

FINE DINING

1. Norman’s
2. Victoria & Albert’s
3. Bull & Bear

Every dedicated foodie and restaurant reviewer in Orlando appears to be on a first-name basis with celebrity chef Norman Van Aken. Whenever they get together, it’s all “Norman this” and “Norman that.”

The familiarity reflects affection and respect for Van Aken and his namesake restaurant, NORMAN’S (normans.com) at The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando, Grande Lakes. That’s where Van Aken and his chefs continue to perfect the “New World Cuisine” he invented – dishes that blend influences from Latin America, the Caribbean and Florida. More recently, an Asian flair has been added.

“The menu items always seem to be astounding, and staff gives the utmost attention to your needs,” said one judge. “Try the Mongolian marinated and grilled veal chop.”

“Conch chowder remains tops on my list,” added another. All the judges praised the extravagant ambience, with one saying: “Maybe it’s just the dining room with the curved, off-white banquettes and its round beamed ceiling and rich drapery, but Norman’s sets a tone that says ‘special.’”

An evening at VICTORIA & ALBERT’S at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (victoria-alberts.com) is, in the understatement of one of our judges, “a big production.”
The servers dressed in late 19th century garb; the six-course, personalized menu; the Wedgwood china – and we haven’t even gotten to the pan-roasted foie gras or the grilled prime filet with celery root-potato purée yet.

At V&A, you have three choices: You can sit in the main dining room, with its doting service and live harp music; in the Queen Victoria Room, with only four tables; or, if you’re lucky enough to snag a reservation, at the chef’s table in the kitchen.

One judge’s comment, in particular, reflected the opinion of the group: “Wherever you dine, you’ll receive an exquisite multicourse meal, artfully paired with wines, upon request. The food is as fine as it gets, and cutting edge, too.”

The BULL & BEAR PRIME STEAKHOUSE (bullandbearorlando.com) earned points for everything from its lobster bisque to gourmet macaroni and cheese, not to mention the marquee entrée: the Tomahawk – an enormous, 36-ounce steak, dry-aged for 28 days.

The restaurant is on Walt Disney World grounds in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, sister to the historic art deco hotel in midtown Manhattan. Though it’s patterned after a steakhouse of the same name in the original Waldorf, the Orlando iteration of the Bull & Bear has developed its own personality.

“The restaurant has made significant changes and has become more comfortable in its role representing a legend while expressing its own individuality,” said one judge. Another simply offered this advice: “Share the Tomahawk.”

NEIGHBORHOOD FAVORITE

1. K Restaurant
2. Tap Room at Dubsdread
3. Antonio’s

Kevin Fonzo is a chef with a green thumb and a busy schedule. The workaholic force behind K RESTAURANT (kwinebar.com) in College Park donates his rare off hours to teaching local schoolchildren how to manage a kitchen garden and prepare tasty dishes from the proceeds.

As a chef, Fonzo practices what he preaches, changing his restaurant’s menu daily in order to include locally harvested vegetables – extremely local, sometimes culled from his own vegetable patch just beyond the kitchen door.

“A top-notch chef with a cozy restaurant tucked into a great neighborhood,” said one judge. Another praised Fonzo’s locavore leanings: “Love the backyard garden, providing instant, fresh ingredients.”

Even if you’re not a golfer, you can’t help but be charmed by the view of the historic, city-operated golf course from THE TAP ROOM AT DUBSDREAD (taproomatdubsdread.com). Service is excellent, as are the homemade desserts, prime-cut steaks and what one judge described as “the best burger in town for my money.” ANTONIO’S LA FIAMMA RISTORANTE (antoniosonline.com) combines classy with casual in an atmosphere that suits its Maitland location overlooking Lake Lily. Said one judge: “The chef is doing some amazing things with the food.  Try the pork tenderloin with figs (Filetto di Maiali).”

UPSCALE CASUAL

1. Ravenous Pig
2. Luma
3. Cocina 214

THE RAVENOUS PIG (theravenouspig.com) never wants for compliments from the culinary cognoscenti. “Creative fare in a comfortable atmosphere,” said one judge. “I’m never disappointed.” Added another: “Over-the-top, scratch-made food with down-to-earth service distinguishes The Pig as the place to go for fine fare without fuss.”

LUMA ON PARK (lumaonpark.com) is, as one judge put it, a place where diners “can go dressed up or dressed down, and have a few nibbles or a whole meal. Always great. You can’t help but get caught up in the energy and positive vibe that radiates throughout.”

Another gushed: “Every element of Luma dazzles, consistently, on every visit. The dining room is stunning, and abuzz while not too loud. The servers are always knowledgeable and friendly without that mechanical ‘My name is’ nonsense – and  every dish is made from scratch.”

As for COCINA 214 (cocina214.com) in Winter Park, a somewhat surprising winner given its relative newcomer status, one judge praised its authenticity and was grateful to see a Tex-Mex option added to the Park Avenue lineup.

The restaurant won points for its salsas, for its huevos rancheros with melted quesos blanco and red ranchero sauce, and for “not making apologies for being a Tex-Mex restaurant.” Along those lines, just in case you’re wondering, 214 isn’t the restaurant’s street address. It’s the area code for Dallas.

WINE LIST

1. Luma
2. Seasons 52
3. Fleming’s
LUMA ON PARK
(lumaonpark.com) impressed judges not just with its extensive, thoughtful wine list, but by the way in which its wines are incorporated into the sleek décor. “Very cool wine room in the middle of the restaurant that piques your curiosity,” said one judge.

SEASONS 52 (seasons52.com) was lauded by one judge for coupling “a fresh take on seasonal flavors with great wine.” Said another: “Their philosophy speaks volumes on a plate, in a glass and with service.”

It didn’t escape our judges’ notice that FLEMING’S PRIME STEAK HOUSE & WINE BAR (flemingsteakhouse.com) recently introduced “100 wines by the glass.” A third of those wines were selected by the restaurant’s wine manager.

One judge expressed particular appreciation for Silver Oak 2007 as his favorite red, and Mosella Rielsing as his favorite white. In partnership with Salvatore Ferragamo’s Il Borro Winery, a new private-label wine called Forty-Six Diamonds Toscana 2009 is now available at both the Winter Park and Dr. Phillips locations.

BEST ETHNIC

1.Tie: Bosphorous, Hawkers, Nile Ethiopian
We are the world, at least when we’re hungry. There’s some sort of multicultural moral in the three-way tie we wound up with in this edible Olympics category.

BOSPHOROUS RESTAURANT, on Park Avenue in Winter Park (bosphorousrestaurant.com), is “a delightful restaurant with stylized Turkish classics,” said one judge, singling out the hunkar begendi, which sounds like the name of a Star Wars alien but is in fact seasoned beef sautéed with onions and tomatoes, served with a purée of smoked eggplant.

The menu at HAWKERS STREET FARE (hawkersstreetfare.com) is patterned after the exotic foods offered by Asian street vendors. “I’ve tasted half the menu and have absolutely loved everything,” said one judge. Added another: “A friend who lived in Malaysia and Bangkok told me that the food is super authentic.”

At NILE ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT (nile07.com), I-Drive diners sop up delicious fare with a pancake-like dough called injera and eat traditional stew called wat, while the scent of freshly roasted coffee beans wafts past their tables and everybody makes corny comments like: “Wat? Wat did you say?”  

Honorable mention: PACO’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT (pacosmexican.com); WAZZABI SUSHI (wazzabisushi.com).

Luma on Park's Brandon McGlamery

BEST CHEF(S)

1. James and Julie Petrakis
2. Brandon McGlamery
3. Kevin Fonzo
 JAMES AND JULIE PETRAKIS
are the creative couple who brought perennial favorite THE RAVENOUS PIG to Orlando. “A down-to-earth, well-versed team,” lauded one judge. BRANDON MCGLAMERY is currently chief chef at LUMA ON PARK, but is also developing a new, much-anticipated Italian restaurant. KEVIN FONZO is the picture of consistency and creativity at his K RESTAURANT on Edgewater Drive in College Park.

BEST DESSERTS

1. Dessert Lady’s Carrot Cake
2. Café de France’s Tarte Tatin
3. Bull & Bear’s Flaming Crème Brûlée

It’s tough picking one delicacy over another at THE DESSERT LADY (dessertlady.com), but the carrot cake, as the initial creation that wunderkind restaurateur Patti Schmidt used to kick-start her career, is the sentimental favorite.

The Tarte Tatin at CAFÉ DE FRANCE (lecafedefrance.com) is a caramelized, upside-down tart, usually made with apples or peaches, which was created by accident at the Hotel Tatin in Lemotte-Beuvron, France in 1898.

If you like a little drama with dessert, you’ll get it as your Flaming Crème Brûlée is prepared tableside at the BULL & BEAR PRIME STEAKHOUSE (waldorfastoriaorlando.com).

Honorable mention: The sweet potato pie at NARCOOSEE’S, Grand Floridian (disneyworld.disney.go.com); the salted caramels at the BLUE BIRD BAKE SHOP (bluebirdbakeshop.com); the Pigtails at THE RAVENOUS PIG (theravenouspig.com); the chocolate soufflé at ROY’S (roysrestaurant.com); the vanilla cupcake with coconut icing at CHOCOLATE PROVOCATEUR’S (chocolateprovocateur.com).

BEST VIEWS

1.California Grill
2.Tie: Hillstone, Sanaa

At the CALIFORNIA GRILL on the 15th floor of Walt Disney World’s Contemporary Resort, you can watch the sunset and Magic Kingdom fireworks display. If it’s an earthier view you seek, indigenous African animals may meander by just outside your window as you dine at SANAA RESTAURANT at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas. (Information for both restaurants is available at disneyworld.disney.go.com.)  

For a tamer but more relaxing feast for the eyes, HILLSTONE’S panoramic vista of the sunset across Lake Killarney is a longtime Winter Park favorite (hillstone.com/hillstone). If Hillstone doesn’t sound familiar to you, that’s because it used to be Houston’s.

Honorable mention: LA HACIENDA DE SAN ANGEL in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion (disneyworld.disney.go.com); BICE RISTORANTE at Universal Orlando (universalorlando.com); GARGI’S LAKESIDE (gargislakeside.com); 310 LAKESIDE (310parksouth.net); JERNIGAN’S RESTAURANT at Amway Center (amwaycenter.com).

BEST DÉCOR

1. Luma
2. Rusty Spoon
3. Bull & Bear

Oddly enough, our judges disagreed more with each other in this category than any other. In the end, LUMA ON PARK (lumaonpark.com) won out for being “just plain pretty, with an upscale, big-city feel.”

The airy, minimalist décor of THE RUSTY SPOON (therustyspoon.com) was bright and restful to most judges, while a dissenter found it sterile. If, at the other end of that spectrum, you like a little jolt of visual testosterone with your steak, you’ll like the BULL & BEAR PRIME STEAKHOUSE (waldorfastoriaorlando.com), whose décor was described by one judge as being “extremely masculine and powerful.”

Honorable mention: RANGETSU (rangetsu.com);  CUBA LIBRE RESTAURANT & RUM BAR (cubalibrerestaurant.com); HILLSTONE (hillstone.com);  LA LUCE (laluceorlando.com); SHIN SUSHI (shinsushi.com); NORMAN’S (normans.com); WHITE WOLF CAFÉ (whitewolfcafe.com); SANAA (disneyworld.disney.go.com).

BEST FOOD TRUCK

1. Big Wheel Provisions
2. Crooked Spoon
3. Yum Yum Cupcake Truck

Chef, owner and driver Tony Adams of BIG WHEEL PROVISIONS (bigwheelprovisions.com) serves fine dishes that you wouldn’t expect to get from the side of a truck. Sautéed foie gras, anyone? Adams is best known for his charcuterie, the craft of salting, smoking and curing meat.

THE CROOKED SPOON (facebook.com/thecrookedspoon) boasts one of the best burgers in Central Florida, on wheels or off. At THE YUM YUM CUPCAKE TRUCK (theyumyumcupcake-truck.com), the little cakelets fly away as fast as that little confection-decorated truck can make them.

BEER SELECTION

1. Redlight Redlight
2. Taps Wine & Beer Eatery
3. Draft Orlando

With its two dozen drafts and a selection of 200 bottled beers, REDLIGHT REDLIGHT BEER PARLOUR (redlightredlightbeerparlour.com), an unpretentious but dead-serious local craft beer bar on Bennett Road, sloshed its way to the No. 1 spot.

TAPS WINE & BEER EATERY (facebook.com/tapswinterpark) was close behind, offering 250 varieties of beer and 100 wines. Like the others, DRAFT ORLANDO (draftorlando.com) features a dizzying and delectable array of IPAs, stouts, lagers, pilsners, ales and cider.

BAR FOOD

1. Vine’s Grill
2. Tap Room
3. Rusty Spoon

The mini Kobe cheeseburgers, artisanal cheese platters, Parmesan fries, steak kabobs, ceviche, spicy lamb meatballs, oysters and flatbread pizzas carried the day for VINES GRILL & WINE BAR (vinesgrille.com).

THE TAP ROOM AT DUBSDREAD (taproomatdubsdread.com) is no slouch with its fresh-seared tuna sashimi, buffalo shrimp, jumbo lump crab cakes, baked brie and cheese platter and Caprese salad. THE RUSTY SPOON (therustyspoon.com) boasts carpaccio, oysters, butter-poached clams, stuffed eggs charred squid steak and octopus

Honorable mention: 310 PARK SOUTH (310parksouth.net); WALL STREET CANTINA (wallstplaza.net/cantina); PRIMO (primograndelakes.com); LE ROUGE WINE BAR & TAPAS (lerougewinebar.com); ROCCO’S ITALIAN GRILLE & BAR (roccositaliangrille.com); THE RAVENOUS PIG (theravenouspig.com); JOHNNY’S FILLIN’ STATION (johnnysfillinstation.com); EDEN BAR at the Enzian (enzian.org); URBAN FLATS (urbanflats.net).

MOST ROMANTIC

1. Chez Vincent
2. Victoria & Albert’s
3.Tie: Café de France, Chatham’s Place

We have two French restaurants represented in this category, which isn’t surprising, since so many of us become easily seduced simply after hearing certain key French-restaurant words, such as “escargot” or “crème brûlée.”

An evening at subdued CHEZ VINCENT (chezvincent.com), in charming Hannibal Square, can turn romantic even if you aren’t expecting it to. And how could love not blossom at VICTORIA & ALBERT’S (victoria-alberts.com) when there are fresh flowers at every table, a harpist plays in the background and a long-stem rose is presented to every woman who walks into the place?

The intimate, Old-World feel of CHATHAM’S PLACE RESTAURANT (chathamsplace.com) is a setup for love; so is the refined, European-styled ambiance at CAFÉ DE FRANCE (lecafedefrance.com).

Honorable mention: THE VENETIAN ROOM (thevenetianroom.com); THE CHEF’S TABLE AT THE EDGEWATER HOTEL (chefstableattheedgewater.com); NORMAN’S (normans.com).

BEST PLACE FOR A BUSINESS MEETING

1. Capital Grill
2. The Boheme
3. Rocco’s

Choices in this category all depend on the kind of business you have in mind. THE CAPITAL GRILL (thecapitalgrill.com) on International Drive is, as one judge put it, “a favorite destination for a closing dinner or an out-of-town business guest.”

THE BOHEME at the Grand Bohemian (grandbohemianhotel.com/theboheme) is ideal for the downtown business crowd, particularly those who like to include jumbo lump crab cakes and fried green tomatoes in their power lunches.

In Winter Park, ROCCO’S ITALIAN GRILLE & BAR (roccositaliangrille.com) is the perfect place for after-hour get-togethers, either in the main restaurant or the bar, over “small plates” of ricotta gnocchi, fried seafood with a sun-dried tomato aioli and sausage-stuffed mushrooms.

Honorable mention: KRES CHOPHOUSE (kreschophouse.com); CITRUS RESTAURANT (citrusorlando.com); THE RAVENOUS PIG (theravenouspig.com); NAPA RESTAURANT (peobodyorlando.com/dining); SEASONS 52 (seasons52.com); DEL FRISCO’S PRIME STEAK & LOBSTER (delfriscosorlando.com); CHRISTINI’S RISTORANTE ITALIANO (christinis.com); SHULA’S 347 GRILL (donshula.com)

LONGTIME FAVORITES

1. K Restaurant
2. Coq au Vin
3. California Grill

One judge described the experience of having dinner at College Park’s K RESTAURANT (kwinebar.com) as “like going to a friend’s home for dinner – a friend who happens to be a chef.”

That same human touch factors into the staying power of LE COQ AU VIN (lecoqauvinrestaurant.com), which main-
tains its standing in this category because of a smooth transition from retiring chef Louis Perrotte to new operators Chef Reimund Pitz and his wife, Sandy.

CALIFORNIA GRILL (disneyworld.disney.go.com) is a mainstay not only because of its theme-park view but because, at least for one judge, it serves the “best sushi on Disney property, if not in Orlando.”

Honorable mention: CHATHAM’S PLACE RESTAURANT (chathamsplace.com); CAFÉ DE FRANCE (lecafedefrance.com); ANTONIO’S LA FIAMMA RISTORANTE (antoniosonline.com); THE TAP ROOM AT DUBSDREAD (taproomatdubsdread.com); DEL FRISCO’S PRIME STEAK & LOBSTER (delfriscosorlando.com); HOT OLIVES RESTAURANT (hotolives.com); THE RAVENOUS PIG (theravenouspig.com); ENZO’S ON THE LAKE (enzos.com).

Arnaud Soules, Bull & Bear

SERVICE

1. Victoria & Albert’s
2. Tie: Bull & Bear, Norman’s

Years ago the management did away with the Disneyfied conceit of naming all the servers, dressed as servants, either Victoria or Albert, but they retained the attendant skills that keep VICTORIA & ALBERT’S (victoria-alberts.com) among the finest restaurants in the southeastern United States.

The staff at the BULL & BEAR PRIME STEAKHOUSE (bullandbearorlando.com) has come a long way in learning proper serving techniques and now are worthy of being part of a Waldorf Astoria-branded property, agreed the judges. Under the direction of Yusuf Yildiz, the staff at NORMAN’S (normans.com) is part of what makes a dinner here the fine occasion that it is – consistently.

Honorable mention: THE VENETIAN ROOM (thevenetianroom.com); LUMA ON PARK (lumaonpark.com); THE RAVENOUS PIG (theravenouspig.com); CHATHAM’S PLACE RESTAURANT (chathamsplace.com); SPENCER’S FOR STEAKS & CHOPS (spencersforsteaksandchops.com); EMERIL’S  TCHOUP CHOP (emerils.com); LA COQUINA CHEF’S TABLE (grandcypress.hyatt.com); THE BOHEME (grandbohemianhotel.com/theboheme); BANANAS DINER (bananasdiner.com).

BRUNCH

1. Hue
2. Coq au Vin
3. Tie: Bananas, The Boheme, La Coquina

Who knew that eating to songs from the ‘70s could be so much fun? But it is at HUE RESTAURANT (huerestaurant.com). The disco brunch is one of the most anticipated morning meals ever.

LE COQ AU VIN (lecoqauvinrestaurant.com) is a new addition to the brunch bunch, giving fans yet another reason to visit the longtime favorite. At BANANAS DINER (bananasdiner.com), the gospel brunch is not for the faint of heart (nor the devout, for that matter). Hint: Those women flailing and wailing and lip-syncing up and down the rows of booths aren’t really women.

THE BOHEME (grandbohemianhotel.com/theboheme) brings a bit of elegance to downtown Orlando. Brunch is usually accompanied by live jazz in the rotunda. LA COQUINA CHEF’S TABLE (grandcypress.hyatt.com) is still one of the best – definitely the priciest – brunches, with food stations set up in the kitchen and dining in the über-elegant dining room that is now used only for this Sunday meal.

OUTDOOR DINING

1. Hillstone
2. Eden Bar
3. Gargi’s Lakeside

Straight from the judges:  HILLSTONE (hillstone.com/hillstone): “Love it for the lake view from the tables, drinks in the Adirondack chairs or, for the ultimate, eating a private meal on the dock.”

EDEN BAR at the Enzian (enzian.org): “It’s like dining in the middle of a garden.” And GARGI’S LAKESIDE (gargislakeside.com): “Not for everyone, but if you enjoy being lakeside and smack in the middle of the city, it’s perfect.”

Honorable mention: ORCHID THAI CUISINE (orchidparkavenue.com); LUMA ON PARK (lumaonpark.com); CITY FIRE AMERICAN OVEN & BAR (cityfirerestaurants.com); MI TOMATINA PAELLA BAR (mitomatina.com). 

BEST KEPT SECRET

1. Bar Louie
2. Café de Paris
3. City Fire

BAR LOUIE (barlouieamerica.com) will be getting more attention soon enough for its good food and drink prices. LE CAFE DE PARIS (no website) may not, but it should: This small eatery in the Dr. Phillips area has the sort of food you’d find in a corner cafe on Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

CITY FIRE AMERICAN OVEN & BAR (cityfirerestaurants.com) is bound to do well just on the nostalgia factor alone. It is a project of Manny Garcia, whose Pebbles and Harvey’s Bistro restaurants were local favorites for many years.

Honorable mention: THE TAP ROOM AT DUBSDREAD (taproomatdubsdread.com); CITYFISH RESTAURANT (cityfishorlando.com); WINTER PARK FISH COMPANY (thewinterparkfishco.com); DYLAN’S DELI (dylansdeli.net); STEFANO’S TRATTORIA (stefanos-trattoria.com); HAWKERS STREET FARE (hawkersstreetfare.com); TECHNIQUE RESTAURANT at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts (techniquerestaurant.com).

HAPPY HOUR

1. Urban Flats
2. Bar Louie
3. Tie: Eden Bar, Rusty Spoon

URBAN FLATS (urbanflats.net) is best on Wednesdays during the Wine Down Wednesday promotion, when the crowds generally spill out onto the sidewalk. BAR LOUIE (barlouieamerica.com) offers half-price appetizers and Angus beef burger for a dollar during its extended happy hours.

The al fresco EDEN BAR at the Enzian Theater (enzian.org) sports a new menu, ample bar seating and small hightops. THE RUSTY SPOON (therustyspoon.com) is a downtown newcomer that offers a pleasant space for office workers to gather at the end of the day.

Honorable mention: BLUE MARTINI LOUNGE (bluemartinilounge.com); DRAFTORLANDO (draftorlando.com); HUE RESTAURANT (huerestaurant.com).

BREAKFAST

1. Bananas
2. Shakers
3. White Wolf Café

At BANANAS DINER (bananasdiner.com) you’ll find everything from basic eggs to chicken and waffles and an array of eggs Benedicts. And you can get it at any hour, including 24 hours on weekend days.

SHAKERS AMERICAN CAFÉ (shakerscafe.com) is a little College Park eatery that has lasted so long because of its consistently good food, and it’s reassuring to know that you never have to ask for salt or pepper: The place gets its name from the collection of shakers used for decoration.

At the WHITE WOLF CAFÉ (whitewolfcafe.com), it’s the cinnamon rolls and the funky antique décor that make the place a good waker-upper.

BEST NEW PLACE

1. Hawkers
2. Rusty Spoon
3. Shipyard Emporium

At HAWKERS STREET FARE (hawkersstreetfare.com), the food is based on dishes offered in open-air markets throughout Asia. This unique conceit got points for sheer creativity from the judges.

Meanwhile, THE RUSTY SPOON (therustyspoon.com) elicited this comment: “Look out Ravenous Pig, this restaurant is consistently described as a rival.” SHIPYARD EMPORIUM (shipyardemporium.com) is a market, bakery and brew pub – a unique combination for Orlando, and likely one that will be around for some time.

Honorable mention: FINESSE RESTAURANT (finesse-therestaurant.com); NAPA RESTAURANT (peobodyorlando.com); PRICKLY PEAR (pricklypearorlando.com); PINE TWENTY 2 (pine22.com); TIBBY’S NEW ORLEANS KITCHEN (tibbysneworleanskitchen.com); DRAGONFLY SUSHI & SAKI CO. (dragonflyorlando.com).

JUDGES’ BEST OUT-OF-TOWN

OLD SPANISH SUGAR MILL (De Leon Springs): “It’s fun to be a kid again and make your own pancakes.” (planetdeland.com/sugarmill)

MON DELICE (New Smyrna Beach): “The best turkey sandwich there is and exquisite French pastries.” (mondelicebakery.net)

SATCHEL’S PIZZA (Gainesville): “Best. Pizza. Anywhere. Hands-down. Plus, it’s just about the most fun you’ll have dining out.” (satchelspizza.com)

ORSAY (Jacksonville): “Great young chef doing terrific things with local ingredients. French bistro atmosphere. So wonderful.” (restaurantorsay.com)

BISTRO AIX (Jacksonville): “Another fun chef using local products and doing a great job.” (bistrox.com)

HORSERADISH GRILL (Atlanta): “Seriously delicious southern food in a seriously gorgeous restaurant.” (horseradishgrill.com)

MURPHY’S RESTAURANT (Atlanta): “Popped in on a whim, wish I lived closer. Without a doubt, best place on a Sunday morning with the New York Times in hand.  I had the crab cake Benedict with jalapeno hollandaise. Perfect.” (murphys-atlanta-restaurant.com)

THE INN AT LITTLE WASHINGTON (Virginia): “Now that’s a seriously long drive but the best meal I’ve ever had in my life.” (theinnatlittlewashington.com)

2011 READER'S CHOICE AWARDS

Your vote counts too! Orlando Home & Leisure’s Readers’ Choice survey, sent via email, drew hundreds of enthusiastic responses. Here are your picks for your favorite dining places in the following categories:

NEW ESTABLISHMEN
1. Tie: Prickly Pear, Rusty Spoon,
Shipyard Emporium

BREAKFAST
1. First Watch (4 locations)
2. Mission Inn
3. Peach Valley Café

LATE NIGHT
1. Chef’s Table at the Edgewater Hotel
2. 310 Lakeside
3. Bananas

WINE LIST
1. Vineyard Wine Co.
2. Chef’s Table/Edgewater
3. Seasons 52 (2 locations)

DESSERT
1. Chef’s Table/Edgewater
2. Mission Inn
3. Dessert Lady

SERVICE
1. Chef’s Table/Edgewater
2. Vineyard Wine Co.
3. Mission Inn

SERVER
1. Matt Gallagher, 310 Lakeside
2. Tie: Holly Daniels, Fleming’s; Nicole Gordils, Emeril’s Tchop Chop; Jory Miller, Terra Mia; Arnaud Soules, Bull & Bear

CHEF
1. Kevin Tarter, Chef’s Table/Edgewater
2. Derek Peters, Vineyard Wine Co.
3. Scott Hunnel, Victoria & Albert’s

TAKE OUT
1. Pei Wei (3 locations)
2. Tie: China 3, Panera (21 locations)

APPETIZER
1. Artichokes or smoked salmon at Hillstone
2. Calamari at Shine
3. Tie: Firecracker shrimp at Bahama Breeze, fried goat cheese at Funky Monkey,  fried pickles at Gator’s Dockside, fried olives and calamari at La Luce, French onion soup at Sam Snead’s

COCKTAIL
1. Bloody Mary at Dexter’s (3 locations)
2. Champagne Cocktail at Christini’s
3. Tie: White Chocolate Martini at Boheme; White Linen Cocktail at Luma, 1988 Martini at Roy’s

BEER
1. World of Beer
2. Taps at Dubsdread
3. Vineyard Wine Co.

DELI
1. Too Jays (6 locations)
2. Tie: Pickles, Shakers, That Deli

PIZZA
1. Winter Garden Pizza Co.
2. Mellow Mushroom
3. Tie: Anthony’s, La Luce

BURGER
1. Five Guys (13 locations)
2. Vineyard Wine Co.
3. Hamburger Mary’s

BUFFET
1. Mission Inn
2. Dux
3. Tie: Boma, Golden Corral (9 locations)

COFFEE
1. Starbucks (multiple locations)
2. Tie: Axum Coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts (multiple locations)

SUSHI
1. Amura (3 locations)
2. Ichiban
3. Shari

HAPPY HOUR
1. Chef’s Table/Edgewater
2. Vineyard Wine Co.
3. Mission Inn

DATE PLACE
1. Chef’s Table/Edgewater
2. Vineyard Wine Co.
3. Victoria & Albert’s

FAMILY PLACE
1. Winter Garden Pizza Co.
2. Mission Inn
3. Olive Garden (28 locations)

AFRICAN
1. Boma
2. Jiko

AMERICAN
1. Seasons 52 (2 locations)
2. Tie: Chef’s Table/Edgewater, Mission Inn

BBQ
1. 4Rivers (3 locations)
2. Harry & Larry’s
3. Bubbalou’s (5 locations)

BRAZILIAN
1. Texas de Brazil
2. Nelore Churrascaria

CARRIBEAN
1. Bahama Breeze
2. Tamboras Grill
3. Tie: Guavate, Bob Marley’s, Mama Millie’s, Puerto Rico’s, Singh’s Roti

CHINESE
1. Tie: Jade Bistro, P.F. Chang’s
(2 locations)
3. Imperial Dynasty

CREOLE
1. Tie: Emeril’s, Tibby’s
3. Big Easy, King Cajun Crawfish

CUBAN
1. Black Bean Deli
2. Tie: Padrino’s, Rolando’s

FRENCH
1. Chez Vincent
2. Coq Au Vin
3. Paris Bistro

GERMAN
1. Hollerbach’s Willow Tree
2. Biergarten  at Epcot
3. Tie: Bavarian Haus, Matthew’s Steaks, Yalaha Bakery (2 locations)

GREEK
1. Athena
2. Tie: Greek Corner, Mykonos, Taverna Opa

INDIAN
1. Memories of India
2. Passage to India
3. Saffron

MIDDLE EASTERN
1.Tie: Bosphoros, Cedars
3. Tie: Anatolia, Chef Henry’s, Tony’s Deli

SEAFOOD
1. Bonefish Grill (5 locations)
2. Boston’s Fish House (2 locations)
3. Oceanaire

SOUL
1. Mama Nems’
2. Lowe’s
3. Mel’s

STEAKHOUSE
1. Bull & Bear
2. Tie: Del Frisco’s, Fleming’s, Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris (3 locations)

THAI
1. Tie: Soong Thai, Thai House
3. Thai Blossom  

VEGETARIAN
1. Infusion Tea
2. Woodlands
3. Tie: Dandelion, Ethos, Sweet Tomatoes (6 locations)

VIETNAMESE
1. Little Saigon
2. Viet Garden
3. Pho 88

MEET THE JUDGES

PAM BRANDON is a food and travel writer and publicity consultant based in Winter Park. She has written and edited several cookbooks for Disney Publishing and is managing editor of Edible Orlando magazine.

KATIE FARMAND is an Orlando food writer, stylist and recipe developer. Her writing and recipes have appeared in numerous magazines and in her blog, The Thin Chef (thethinchef.com).

RONA GINDIN has been writing about restaurants since 1982. She spent nine years as Orlando magazine’s restaurant critic, and writes for Zagat and Fodor’s as well. She hosts a restaurant show that airs on Bright House.

CHELE HIPP lives in Winter Park with her husband, Kent, and their two sons. She was born into an Italian family and grew up in Long Island. “Food was the center of our lives,” she says. “My husband says we are the only people he knows who talk about lunch while we’re eating breakfast, then talk about dinner when we’re eating lunch.”

SUSAN LOMAX is associate vice president in charge of publicity with VisitOrlando. She says one of the job’s fringe benefits is that it requires her to “eat my way around town in the name of research.”

SCOTT JOSEPH is the dean of Orlando restaurant reviewers and food critic for Orlando Home & Leisure. He spent 20-plus years as restaurant reviewer for the Orlando Sentinel. His book, Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide and his website, scottjosephorlando.com are definitive guides to the city’s restaurant scene.

SCOTT RICHARDSON was hired by SeaWorld Orlando to open its full-service restaurant, Sharks Underwater Grill, in 2001, The European-trained chef also worked as general manager of Lombard’s Seafood Grille at Universal Studios. He is an associate professor of Hospitality and Culinary Arts at Valencia College and food critic for The Park Press in Winter Park.