When one door closes, another opens. That's certainly the case now for Kris Wessel. While his first restaurant Red Light Little River closed last week, this week holds promise as his new South Beach restaurant Florida Cookery is now soft open at The James Royal Palm hotel.
As the name indicates, Wessel has brought his Florida roots with him in opening his first hotel restaurant and carried it throughout. The design, done by Lauren Rotter, is approachable and artistic in its clean lines and simplicity, with a fifties feel to it.
His South Florida family heritage comes through in the menu, which he goes to great lengths to serve local, fresh, and unpretentious food. Come for breakfast or brunch and have the Manzana Banana French Toast with rum-tinged maple syrup. Stay for lunch and start off with the Conch Chowder & Fritter Dipper made with a recipe from 1948, then try the trio of Oxtail, Oyster & Alligator Empanadas and finish it with the Hot-Healthy-Miami Housewife Salad. Make a reservation for dinner to try Wessel's Sticky Guanabana Glazed Ribs or Cast Iron Seared Sunshine State Frog Legs and end on a sweet note with Grandma Esther's Mango, Key lime or Florida Strawberry Pie. It's about time someone around here really honed in on Floridian fare. Looks like Red Light fans won't have to mourn its loss entirely as Florida Cookery is quite the step up for Wessel and his signature cuisine.
[Photo Credit: Adeline Ramos]