The Year in Lists: 5 new joints that totally killed it in 2014

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click to enlarge Quail and sweet potato waffles. - Chip Weiner
Chip Weiner
Quail and sweet potato waffles.

As determined by this year’s four-stars-and-up reviews by CL Restaurant Critic Jon Palmer Claridge.

Roux


When it comes to Creole gumbo, “the proof, as they say, is in the ‘roux,’” opined Claridge. “And Roux’s roux rocks.” He also cheered the tasty Abita-battered alligator bites in a spicy cayenne rémoulade, and the wood-grilled trout meunière with flavorful maque choux.

Ulele

click to enlarge Candied duck bacon-maple fried ice cream. - Chip Weiner
Chip Weiner
Candied duck bacon-maple fried ice cream.

Local and fresh ingredients daily. Our critic went for the cast-iron seared lobster cake accompanied by a yummy cucumber-ginger salad; the juicy, 8-ounce flank steak with Florida avocado “Jimmychurri” sauce; and, of course, the house-made ice cream.

Villa Bellini Restaurant & Lounge

click to enlarge Mussels with white wine, cherry tomatoes and more. - Chip Weiner
Chip Weiner
Mussels with white wine, cherry tomatoes and more.
It’s all good — everything from the Italian-inspired grouper fillet sautéed in white wine and extra virgin olive oil to the seasonal vegetables plated alongside the entrées. Claridge and company swooned over the moist limoncello cake and luscious tiramisu.

Bizou Brasserie

click to enlarge Steak frites with garlic-parsley butter and mixed greens. - Chip Weiner
Chip Weiner
Steak frites with garlic-parsley butter and mixed greens.

Jazzed about the eats à la Paris, our taster of all foods enjoyed herb-garlic butter-coated escargot, hanger steak with frites and pan-seared duck breast.

Castile

click to enlarge The lobster appetizer with giant grilled croutons. - Chip Weiner
Chip Weiner
The lobster appetizer with giant grilled croutons.
Contemporary Mediterranean-influenced dishes at the new Hotel Zamora restaurant scored with JPC: the Maine lobster ajillo, the 8-ounce El Gigante Albondiga lamb-and-beef meatball and the black grouper cheek nuggets. He also deemed pimentón (Spanish cuisine’s beloved smoked paprika) the new black. 

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