The Food Issue: The CL stars guide

Jon Palmer Claridge’s best-reviewed restaurants from 2012-2014, from 3.5 stars on up.

click to enlarge Elevage in Tampa, one of JPC's 4.5-star restaurants. - Chip Weiner
Chip Weiner
Elevage in Tampa, one of JPC's 4.5-star restaurants.

Each week I hope to capture the dining experience, both good and bad, using Goethe’s three questions: What were they trying to do? How well did they do it? And finally, was it worth doing?

The answers to these questions translate into my five-star system as follows:

1 = Poor
2 = Fair
3 = Good
4 = Excellent
5 = World Class

While Tampa Bay currently has no world-class restaurants, there’s one in Orlando (Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort), and there’s a five-star-worthy chocolatier in Belleair Bluffs.

And as the CL Stars Guide list demonstrates, we’ve got plenty of terrific food.

This list shows restaurants that I rated at 3.5 stars or more from mid-June, 2012, when I began reviewing for CL, to the first week in June, 2014. Any restaurant getting three stars or above is one where you can confidently spend your money. But for the purposes of this guide, we made 3.5 stars the cutoff point, indicating restaurants going the extra mile to be more than just good — good-plus, if you will.

So check the list, read the CL reviews online and see what you think. Flaws that bother me might not be a big deal to you, while tastes I swoon over might leave you cold. This guide may confirm your opinion of your own favorite places, or lead you to places you’ve never tried.

In any case, get out of the house to try something new. A world of exciting flavors awaits you.

Note: I’ve yet to dine at a few restaurants that, by reputation, are likely to have made this list if I had. So, Mise en Place, Restaurant BT, Pellagia Trattoria, Yummy House and others: I look forward to making your acquaintance.