October 7, 2015

What will be on Florida's tables in 2015?
by Restaurant Editor Chris Sherman

The first taste of the new year may well be a small plate of thinly sliced octopus with slivers of jalapeno and tangerine.

Next could be a monster tomahawk ribeye or a butter-poached lobster. More likely however, it will be more small plates, lamb meatballs and polenta, artichoke/fennel hash, lobster sliders, gator hushpuppies, warm olives and almonds.

Call them 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.”

In some restaurants, the entire fare is small plates, or as one menu has it, small and “slightly larger.” In that case not a big plate, but a $16 bowl of house-made pasta with pancetta, arugula, Crotone cheese and lemon parsley breadcrumbs.

If food plates are smaller, some prices can get larger. More fine restaurants offer tasting menus at $100 and up, and trendy cocktails will take most of a $20 bill.

Large or small, the plates increasingly hold corn, greens and eggs from Florida’s growing farm-to-table purveyors — with more local catch like rock shrimp and hometown craft beers, too.

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Florida Trend restaurant editor Chris Sherman stuck his finger into Key lime pie 20 years ago. He has eaten his way up down and across Florida, tucking into grits, datil peppers, and medianoche sandwiches as well as the dishes of our grandest chefs, young and old. Florida sets a big and constantly changing table, so when you find a great new restaurant or have a grand meal, let Florida Trend know. Ditto for those dinners that don't match the hype. He can't be everywhere... although he'd like to be.

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