Six South Walton restaurants have been awarded Florida Trend's prestigious annual Golden Spoon awards. They are Vin'tij, Fleming's, Bud & Alley's, Fish Out of Water, Restaurant Fire, and Grayton Bar & Grill.



Every year, Florida Trend highlights the top restaurants throughout the state with the awards. This year, South Walton restaurants had more recipients on the list than any other area in the Panhandle. Across the county line in Destin, Cuvee Bistro also was recognized.



The awards date back 40 years, although they have evolved, Florida Trend restaurant editor Chris Sherman told The Sun.



"They are editorial decisions not based on advertising," he said.



The Golden Spoon is represented by between 50 and 100 of the best restaurants in the state.



"These are generally more expensive restaurants but need not be white tablecloth," said Sherman. "The chief criteria are food related, imaginative and changing menus, carefully sourced ingredients, and the chefs are as important as the maitre d's. Good service, fair value and decor are expected. Most restaurants require three years to show the staying power we require."



Vin'tij in Miramar Beach, Fish Out of Water at WaterColor, and Restaurant Fire at Gulf Place are designated Golden Spoon recipients. Fleming's Steakhouse at Grand Boulevard received their award for Best Brand. Bud & Alley's at Seaside is a Hall of Famer. And Grayton Bar & Grill was one of only 22 restaurants in the state winning the award for Best New restaurant. 



In 15 years of operation, this is the eighth Golden Spoon for Vin'tij. Partner and Manager Todd Reber and Chef John Jacob opened Vinítij in 1998. Reber attributes the restaurant's success to Chef John and the consistent good quality food.



Debbie Earles, co-owner of Grayton Bar & Grill, said they are honored to win their award in the restaurant's first year of operation and attributes the success to good food and hard work by the restaurant's team.



This year, less than 100 restaurants received Golden Spoons; only 15 were recognized as Best Brands, and only 31 are in the Hall of Fame.



Best Brands are multi-unit operators that put good food first, much like the Golden Spoons, said Sherman.



Hall of Fame restaurants are chosen from repeat winners of Golden Spoons, and Best New restaurants are less than two years old, again food forward.



"They demonstrate new and bright ideas in the dining scene," he said.