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Best Fine Dining — 2017 Winner Announced

Written By Scott Joseph On August 31, 2017

Victoria & Albert’s has been voted Best Fine Dining in Scott Joseph’s Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants. Bull & Bear at the Waldorf Astoria was your second favorite and Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton was third.

Good choices, all. Each could be considered the epitome of fine dining, with luxurious tablecloths, a relaxed atmosphere, slow pace, impeccable service and, of course, exquisite food.

You’re not the only ones that think V&A is tops. Tripadvisor included it on its Top 10 Fine Dining list last year, second only to Alinea in Chicago, and ahead of such iconic fine diners as Per Se, Bouley, Daniel and the French Laundry (as, in my opinion from having dined at those, it should be). Under the direction of executive chef Scott Hunnel, Victoria & Albert’s has earned enough AAA Five Diamond awards to open a jewelry store and enough stars from Forbes and Mobil for its own galaxy. Israel Perez is the gracious general manager and sommelier who leads the well-trained staff. (Hunnel is shown in center above with cooking staff in a photo from Walt Disney World.)

The Bull & Bear at Orlando’s Waldorf Astoria is an offshoot of the original in New York. They are the only two B&B’s, so it qualified as an independent restaurant for our purposes. (Foodster Awards are open to restaurants with three or fewer locations.) Chef de cuisine Richard Brown takes the Orlando menu beyond the steakhouse mien of the Manhattan original. General manager Rafael Frederick leads the dining room staff.

Norman’s is well suited to occupy a room at the Ritz-Carlton. Executive chef Andres Mendoza heads up the kitchen, turning out Norman Van Aken’s iconic and trailblazing cuisine. Yusuf Yildiz has been the congenial manager and sommelier for much of the restaurant’s 14 years. (And congratulations to Van Aken and team on the recent anniversary.)

There are fewer fine dining restaurants these days, not only here but also in places like New York and Chicago. Like so many other things in culture, the definition of fine dining and special occasion restaurants is being rewritten by a younger crowd.

But one hopes there will always be restaurants like these for the times when we feel like being extravagant.



The restaurants listed here have been nominated for Best Fine Dining.

So what constitutes fine dining? It’s a higher level of fod quality along with an elevated style of service. Tablecloths are usually employed, and quiet conversation is possible. Good wines are available, often with a sommelier to make recommendations. You know a fine dining restaurant when you’re eating in one!

These nominees fit the bill. 

Voting is open through Oct. 4. The winner will be announced in the Oct. 5 edition of the e-letter.

Place your vote by clicking the box next to your choice and then clicking the Vote button. Only one vote per person is allowed — if you’ve already voted, the Vote button will not appear.

You may write in the name of a restaurant that you’d like to nominate. But remember: The Foodster Awards are exclusively for independent businesses, defined as having three or fewer locations — no chains. Any write-in nominees that don’t meet that definition will be removed from the list. Also, do not write in the name of a restaurant that is already named in the list — by doing so you may actually reduce the number of votes that restaurant might receive because only the votes on the first listing will be counted.

After voting, leave a comment below telling us who you voted for and why. We may use your comment if your favorite is the winner. (Be sure to put the name of the restaurant in your comment or we won’t know which one you’re referring to.)

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We hope you find our reviews and news articles useful and entertaining. It has always been our goal to assist you in making informed decisions when spending your dining dollars. If we’ve helped you in any way, please consider making a contribution to help us continue our journalism. Thank you.

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