Flying Fish halibut

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2019 Best Seafood Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants.

Listed below are the initial nominees. During the nomination phase, you may select up to three restaurants. The top vote getters will advance to the finals. To place a vote, check the box next to the restaurant’s name then click the VOTE button below the poll.

If you would like to nominate a restaurant that is not already on the list, you may write in the name. Please note: The Foodster Awards are open to independent restaurants only, defined as those having three or fewer locations. Write-in candidates from chains with more than three locations will be deleted. Also, before submitting a write-in candidate, verify that the restaurant is not already listed. Duplicate nominations will be deleted along with any accumulated votes.

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Finally, after you place your vote, leave a comment below telling us who you voted for and why you think it makes the best sushi in Central Florida. (We can't see who you vote for, so be sure to mention the name of the restaurant in your comment.)

Nominations will be accepted through Aug. 8. Finalists will be published Aug. 8.


First Watch dining

Until last week, I couldn’t tell you the last time I was in a First Watch, but I could tell you the first time.

That was in 1988, in Phoenix, and my erstwhile colleagues at the newspaper I had recently been laid off from wanted to take me out to a goodbye lunch before I headed to Orlando and a new job. One of my friends suggested we go to a place that had opened near the newspaper’s offices. It was new to town, open only for breakfast and lunch and was called First Watch.

Inasmuch as that was 31 years ago, I can’t remember a whole lot about the experience. But I can tell you a lot about the brunch I had recently at the First Watch in the Waterford Lakes area. I was invited to join FW’s regional marketing manager to see what’s new at First Watch, both in the restaurant’s ambiance and its menu. And to try something unique to this Central Florida location: alcohol.

The Waterford Lakes location is among the first to experiment with adding a bar, something you might not expect in a restaurant that’s open only until 2:30 p.m. daily. But when you consider the popularity of brunch cocktails — and this location’s proximity to UCF — it makes sense.

And you should know that this is not a name-your-drink bar; there isn’t even a bartender. Instead, First Watch features an array of premixed cocktails made with juices juiced in house daily.



Vineyard France

This is the second in a series of columns by wine expert Brittney Coutts.

What is Terroir? It’s a simple yet so complex and so controversial idea. To understand the basics of it, you have to think all the way back to freshman year Biology class, and try to remember learning about Phenotype and Genotype.

The genotype is the genetic characteristics that the plant or animal carries from its parents responsible for one particular trait. Phenotype is all of the other observable characteristics, which are affected by both environment and those genetic characteristics.
According to Webster, the exact definition of terroir (pronounced Ter-Waar) is the completely natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate. The characteristic taste and flavor imparted to a wine by the environment in which it is produced. So again, affecting the phenotype of the plant. Honestly, this is where it gets controversial. Why? Well, many wine scholars believe this theory of terroir to be true, but as much as they want to shun the non-believers, they make some pretty solid arguments.

Before we get into their arguments let's breakdown what Terroir is as a whole. Terroir is four main components that interact with each other to create a sense of place.


Lac Viet exterior

The readers of Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide have voted Lac Viet Bistro the Best Vietnamese in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants. Second place went to Viet-Nomz and Pho Vinh was third.

Lac Viet opened in 2005 in the Mills 50 district (before it was known as the Mills 50 district). Longtime area residents will remember that Lac Viet took over the space that for many years had been home to La Normandie.


We've had a flurry of Foodster Award presentations lately. Here are some of the people who accepted their plaques. They represent the best in their categories. And remember, Foodster Awards are for Independent Restaurants -- those with three or fewer locations -- so be sure to support your local restaurateurs.

Greek Corner Stylianos Xanthoudakis

Stylianos Xanthoudakis of Greek Corner accepted the Platinum Foodster for Best Greek