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Escargot

The restaurants listed here are the finalists for Best French in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants.

Please vote for your favorite French restaurant by clicking the circle next to its name and then the VOTE button at the bottom of the poll.

Note: Even if you voted in the nominating phase, you must vote again for a finalist — no votes were carried over from the preliminary poll.

After you place your vote, leave a comment explaining why you voted the way you did. Be sure to mention the name of the restaurant in your comment or we won’t know which restaurant you’re referring to. We may use your comment when we announce the winners.

Voting will continue through March 13 and the winners will be announced on March 14.

 

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Frontera interior

I was surprised when I was told that Frontera Cocina, the Disney Springs restaurant from chef Rick Bayless was celebrating its third year.

I was even more surprised that the man who told me was Bayless himself.

It seemed like no more than a year ago that Bayless, the well-known Chicago based chef and restaurateur, was on hand to open the Disney Springs venue. I figured that would be the last we’d see of him in Central Florida. Certain celebrity chefs are known for putting their names on restaurants and then practically forgetting where they are.

But Bayless, I’m told, is at Frontera Cocina at least once a quarter, usually to help roll out a seasonal menu. That was why he was there talking to me last month as part of a media preview of the winter menu.

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Normans Entrance

The James Beard Foundation on Wednesday announced the semifinalists for its 2019 chef and restaurant awards. After a complete snub in 2018, Central Florida is represented in four categories, though not for Best Chef in the South region.

Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton is nominated for Outstanding Restaurant, a category the encompasses the nation.

Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is on the list for Outstanding Service award.

Rabii Saber of the Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World Resort is nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef.

And James and Julie Petrakis are co-nominees as Outstanding Restaurateur, a new category for them. They had previously been nominated — again as a team — in the Best Chef South category.

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Sus Hi bowl

Something’s getting lost in the translation. Or at least in the expansion.

When I first reviewed Sus Hi, in July of 2012, it was a nascent fast-fooder on Alafaya Trail near UCF, attempting to do for sushi what Moe’s did for Tex-Mex. It had an exuberant staff that called out “Welcome, Ninja” to each new guest, and they seemed excited about their food and genuinely happy to be serving it.

Now called Sus Hi Eatstation, it has four locations and another opening soon. One of the newer locations is in the Millenia area, and I stopped in there not long ago to see how the concept has fared over the past seven years.

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Chickasaw Trail Cocktail

The folks at Highball & Harvest are serious about their cocktails. After all, highball is part of its name (although it’s a winking reference to a train reference).

In this episode of On the House, bartender Noelle Benlolo demonstrates the restaurant’s Chickasaw Trails cocktail. Its named for the Chickasaw plum that grows in the northern part of the state, and plum syrup is part of the recipe.

Watch the video, then highball it over to the bar and give it a try.