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red light-Kris Wessel's Highly Anticipated New Spot on Biscayne

Miami Danny Jan 23, 2008 05:49 AM

I had a chance to chat informally with Owner and Chef Kris Wessel yesterday, and he told me that he hopes to open in three weeks. This is great news for the neighborhood. The New Orleans native, who moved to the area to attend FIU fifteen years ago, and never left, will be offering a mid-priced menu, no white table cloths, with an emphasis on seafood, cooking with a Florida, Caribbean leaning, and a FULL BAR. I was aghast at how beautiful the Little River looks; how clean and dynamic-I hadn't been down there in a while, but the river is now flowing in and out with the tides. He had a lot of overgrown brush cleared away that was impeding the river's flow, and trapping the garbage. There will be a beautiful outdoor, waterfront area, with a bar. The interior, which, miraculously, also has a bar, is spare, with hanging lamps, red patterned walls, and mustard colored booths. I have some photos at www.dailycocaine.blogspot.com of the chef, who seems surprisingly relaxed. I predict this place will be THE hit of 2008. You heard it here first.

  1. Frodnesor Jan 23, 2008 07:12 AM

    *I predict this place will be THE hit of 2008. You heard it here first.*

    Glad to see the change of heart from all the naysaying you were doing a couple weeks ago ->
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/473976#3289878

    Actually several of us who knew from Kris Wessel's prior restaurants have been telling folks to look forward to this opening for some time now.
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/410290
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/463500
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/47397...

    Thrilled to hear he's close to opening, thanks for the update. There was a good article - maybe in the Biscayne Times - several months ago about all the work he's done cleaning up the river behind the property.

    Who remembers when there was a sign for some dinky little Chinese restaurant hanging on the outside of that space?

    Edited to add - a link to the Biscayne Times article is included in one of the threads above (warning - huge download).

    8 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor
      lax2mia Jan 23, 2008 07:43 AM

      I just want it to open already! Michael's and Michy's are starting to get impossible to get into!

      1. re: lax2mia
        Miami Danny Jan 23, 2008 08:01 AM

        Yeah, I'm mercurial. This is going to be tougher than either so get ready to start shmoozing.

        1. re: Miami Danny
          Miami Danny Jan 23, 2008 08:25 AM

          Incidentally, on the thread Frodnesor references, I was merely asking for someone with knowledge of Wessel's food to describe dishes they had eaten. Not in some ethereal way, but the actual food descriptions. That I never got, even with all the nudging I was doing. And I AM surprised at the cleanliness of the Little River. Believe me, it was a shock.

          1. re: Miami Danny
            Frodnesor Jan 23, 2008 09:45 AM

            MD - I wish I had a better recollection of specific dishes that I ate about 5-8+ years ago.

            Here's some sites that give descriptions of some of Liaison's and Elia's dishes ->
            http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2000-08-03/dining/big-easy-flavor/full
            http://www.miaminewtimes.com/bestof/award.php?oid=15646&year=2001
            http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2003-07-31/dining/elia-take-two/full
            http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2004-02-19/dining/one-name-many-tastes/full
            http://starchefs.com/news/press_releases/html/newsdetails.php?news_id=318
            http://starchefs.com/news/press_relea...

            Having had my recollection refreshed, I do fondly recall the New Orleans style "BBQ" shrimp and the grillades and grits at Liaison. I think Liaison was possibly more representative of Wessel than Elia, where he had come in to rescue a floundering restaurant that already had the Mediterranean concept in place. I suspect Red Light is going to be yet again something different from either of these.

            1. re: Frodnesor
              karmalaw Jan 23, 2008 09:51 AM

              Liaison was totally Kris' menu and cuisine.. at Elia he had to work around the limitations set by the owner and a then existing restaurant. Red Light will be totally Kris' menu -- but, not the same menu as Liaison...for example there will be a raw bar and and outdoor barbecue/smoker area as additions to the menu items... I can hardly wait for the smoked oysters... can you?

              1. re: karmalaw
                Frodnesor Jan 24, 2008 06:34 AM

                One of my co-workers was recently in New Orleans and was raving about the barbecued oysters - to the point of saying he was going to hire an oyster shucker to come to the house and do a BBQ oyster party. In a few weeks (hopefully) that won't be necessary.

                1. re: Frodnesor
                  The Chowfather Oct 2, 2009 09:03 PM

                  I know this is an old post but noticed that Shuck N Dive (Ft Lauderdale) had barbecued oysters on the menu and recalled this post.

            2. re: Miami Danny
              Frodnesor Jan 23, 2008 10:08 AM

              BTW, the funniest part of the Biscayne Times article was this inadvertent typo in the caption under Kris' picture:

              "The best part is the river, which abounds with wildlife and waterfoul."

              Fortunately, that water's not so foul any more.

      2. lax2mia Mar 19, 2008 12:04 PM

        Q&A with the chef.

        http://blogs.menupages.com/southflori...

        1. t
          The Chowfather AKA sobe Mar 27, 2008 03:04 PM

          Opening: Red Light

          Good news: Kris Wessel has been given the go-ahead from Tallahassee and will be opening Red Light tonight at 5 p.m. No menu yet, though we'll try to have one by the weekend.

          source: menupages

          1 Reply
          1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe
            karmalaw Mar 27, 2008 03:30 PM

            It's a limited menu for the next 2 weeks -- then full menu.

          2. Frodnesor Mar 28, 2008 05:37 AM

            Did anyone go last night? When I drove by they had a sign outside that said "Bar open," and they had a good crowd inside, don't know if they were serving any food or not.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Frodnesor
              a
              allpurposedark Mar 29, 2008 08:03 AM

              We stopped in for a late night snack last night. Had the organic egg on toast along with a Landshark beer and it was delicious. The menu is about five items now but all of the options sounds good.
              I posted a pic and a longer write-up on my blog.
              http://allpurposedark.blogspot.com/20...

              1. re: karmalaw
                t
                The Chowfather AKA sobe Apr 2, 2008 06:01 PM

                Karma, MD, will you please post back when you have info regarding the full menu start date,
                Thanks

                1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe
                  karmalaw Apr 2, 2008 06:49 PM

                  Certainly.

            2. lax2mia Apr 4, 2008 12:49 PM

              Thinking of hitting this place tonight. Is parking in the motel lot?

              1 Reply
              1. re: lax2mia
                karmalaw Apr 4, 2008 03:06 PM

                For now, yes. If not, there is a lot across the street that I am told can be used.

                Full Menu is expected in 10 days.

              2. Frodnesor Apr 4, 2008 08:03 PM

                Quick first visit report ->

                I still remember this as being the place with some sign for a Chinese restaurant hanging in the window of a spot so dingy and terrifying that you probably wouldn't eat there if you'd been starving for a month. Obviously it's been cleaned up considerably, no small feat. The indoor space has a diner-style bar with about 10 stools, and then there are maybe 8-10 booths, some 2-tops, some 4-tops. It's basic, simple and uncluttered. We walked outside and downstairs to see the space by the river, which should be opened in another couple weeks, where there's a set up for a raw bar. The river actually does look reasonably clean and even scenic, another not small feat. This will definitely be a nice place to hang out.

                The menu is still short indeed - for tonight, fish chowder, snapper ceviche, BBQ shrimp, 5-hour braised rabbit (sous vide?), frog legs, chicken sandwich, oyster pie (?? I should have asked), sides of "gooey, smelly mac & cheese," yuca, callaloo, or smoked oysters, desserts of banana ice-cream or key lime pie. I might be forgetting one or two things, but not more than that. We got a couple orders of the BBQ shrimp for the kids, the chicken sandwich, the fish chowder and the frog legs, with a side of the mac & cheese.

                The BBQ shrimp are the real New Orleans deal. One day someone will explain to me how they came to be called barbecue shrimp, as they're neither grilled on a BBQ nor are they sauced with a typical BBQ sauce. Rather, the shrimp are typically sauteed and served in a pan sauce made by sauteeing the shrimp heads w/ butter, lemon, worcestershire and tabasco, and served w/ bread for dipping in the sauce. Done spot on here, great dish. The kids, particularly little Miss F, liked these much.

                The fish chowder was creamy w/ coconut milk and studded w/ chunks of corvina and fresh corn kernels. The flavor was reminiscent of a Thai tom khar gai soup, actually, but without the galangal. It actually could have used one more note, such as ginger, to pick up the flavor a little bit. A "hemp butter" drizzle was an interesting idea but I thought added more greasy texture than it contributed to flavor.

                The chicken sandwich was a French bread (store-bought, it would appear) with a slab of moist organic chicken breast, some avocado spread, some tasty pickled onions. On the side was a salad studded with lots of green olives which reminded me of muffeleta flavors. The frog legs were a generous portion, sauteed with lots of lemon and garlic, very tasty, accompanied by a bowl of chayote squash in buttermilk, the chayote raw and cubed - curious, cool and refreshing, but I wasn't entirely convinced. The mac & cheese was somewhat gooey, actually not at all stinky, and the kids (with some help from the grown-ups) wolfed it all down.

                The home-made banana ice cream was pretty good, I wasn't as enamored with the key lime pie which was very meringue-y and not tart enough for my taste.

                Prices were absurdly low for food of this quality - each of the foregoing items was priced under $10 each. The portions were not huge - the BBQ shrimp were decent appetizer portions, the frog legs a generous app or small main - but still!

                Wine choices are very limited at present (I think the whole wine inventory may have consisted of a dozen bottles - Frod Jr. generously suggested I should donate some wine), but I had a nice Albarino by the glass which went great with the dishes.

                Shows a lot of promise - good food, great prices, nice vibe.

                BTW - the hotel parking lot was full when we got there, and we parked on the curb on 77th St.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Frodnesor
                  lax2mia Apr 5, 2008 04:09 PM

                  If you and the rest of the Frods were sitting at the bar around 8:30 then we were literally inches from each other. I should've known only a true hound would take their kids to a just-opened, not-quite-sure-what-they're-serving-but-we'll-try-anything type of place.

                  Had trouble with parking also; however, there are some spots on 77th that face the back of the hotel where you're allowed to park.

                  Too bad you skipped the oyster pie. Delicious. We liked the banana ice cream, which was probably what I'd call the most adult ice cream I've ever had. Lots of banana, a little rum, and not too sweet.

                  1. re: lax2mia
                    Frodnesor Apr 5, 2008 05:49 PM

                    Yes, that was the Family Frod at the bar! Little Miss F and Frod Jr. really liked it, esp. the BBQ shrimp (which has got to stick around when Kris finalizes the menu) and the banana ice cream.

                    1. re: Frodnesor
                      lax2mia Apr 5, 2008 10:12 PM

                      I had my suspicions. Your kids were ridiculously well behaved considering the environment and the food. That's actually what my girlfriend and I noticed first. Most kids that age would probably be whining that they weren't at home having pizza in front of their Playstation. Maybe a book on "How to Raise a Chowhound" is in order?

                      Agree that the shrimp needs to stay, and I'd like to see it as a larger portion and (this might just be because of the Latin in me) with some white rice. Actually, everything we had we'd be disappointed if it were taken off the menu. Everything was that good. And the price/quality ratio is obscene.

                      1. re: lax2mia
                        Frodnesor Apr 8, 2008 08:32 AM

                        Interesting little tie-in to the "How to Raise a Chowhound" idea - blurb on NYT dining blog about Ubuntu (one of Bruni's "Top 10 Restaurants Outside of the Universe that is NYC") having a $14 kids' menu. I've been waiting for someone to come up with a "kids' tasting menu" to keep the kids occupied and entertained as the grown-ups eat.
                        http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...

                2. m
                  miaedu Apr 11, 2008 07:04 PM

                  went last saturday about 8:30PM but need to go earlier tomorrow. does anyone know what time they open?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: miaedu
                    karmalaw Apr 11, 2008 08:31 PM

                    6 p.m. tomorrow.

                  2. Frodnesor Apr 12, 2008 06:50 AM

                    Went again last night - place was populated but not fully packed at around 9pm. Menu had a salad; BBQ shrimp; pulled pork sandwich; skillet-cooked chicken breast w/ cheese, peppers, etc.; rabbit w/ marsala; frog legs (reported on last time, very similar preparation); "real" red snapper; a few veggie sides including "gunga pea rice"; kumquat sorbet & "kitchen counter chocolate cake", possibly a couple other things I'm missing.

                    We did salad, BBQ shrimp, pulled pork sandwich and snapper. Salad was nice w/ peppery greens, goat cheese, hearts of palm. BBQ shrimp I thought was even better than last time, b/c this time around they were using head-on shrimp (Mrs. F ate the shrimp, I gnawed on the heads). I didn't get a bite of the pulled pork sandwich but it hit the spot for our companion. And the snapper was also solid, nice filet w/ crisped skin plated w/ a generous bed of "April veg" and a preserved lemon brown butter (perhaps a bit too much butter, but that's hardly a strong complaint).

                    Looks like they also brought in an extra waiter to help work the tables and service was a little smoother than our visit last week. Great to see this place coming together.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Frodnesor
                      Miami Danny Apr 18, 2008 09:00 AM

                      red light has a 'special' 'green' menu for Earth Day, and Chef Kris Wessel has come up with some nice salads, including organic tomatoes; sapodilla milkshakes; a shrimp pan roast; and an organic grilled veg sandwich with optional organic chicken. I tried the spiny lobster sous vide, and the US Kobe burger, which is hereby nominated for best burger in Miami-you heard it here first. Also, the three cheese plate for $6, had a good amount of very good Loxahatchee goat, a smelly French triple cream, and a sharp Cheddar, that was served with what tasted like guava jerky. A fine meal, with a decent $32 Cotes du Rhone. To watch a video of the sous vide spiny lobster being served, please check out http://dailycocaine.blogspot.com/2008... We sat outside, on Biscayne, and it was a nice city-type dinner, with cars and some skells (just one or two, actually) rolling by. You can smoke out here, which is a good option for you smokers...

                      1. re: Miami Danny
                        m
                        mialebven Apr 19, 2008 07:01 PM

                        *GASPS* No... sapodilla milkshakes? Those are rare!

                        Sounds good. And Earth Day as in April 22nd?

                    2. m
                      mikek Apr 19, 2008 02:18 PM

                      I finally made it in and am so happy that I did. Although they were not on the menu, Chef Wessel whipped up some of the BBQ shrimp which were unreal. I lived in NO for 5 years and those were up there with Pascal's Manale, etc. The mushroom soup was delicate, light, flavorful, a truly excellent dish. There was a slight citrusy ting to it that was delicious. The cobia in cherry sauce was seasoned and cooked perfectly. The few wines they had were good (we tried 3 of the 5 reds, the bourgogne, a meritage and the cab). For dessert, the macadamia nut pie was buttery and wonderful. The chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream to accompany were great. The sour orange and honey sorbet was a phenomenal end to the meal. I cannot wait to see the whole menu and really hope they take the flavor of th econverted diner space and do some diner classics "done up".

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mikek
                        Miami Danny Apr 19, 2008 03:11 PM

                        Full menu coming in a week or two; although when I asked the chef when he would start serving the full menu, he replied, "Do I have to?" I guess it's nice not to have to worry about 35 dishes, just 8 or 10. I also asked him to please curse more, as that, according to the NY Times, is the hallmark of a great chef. He's way too relaxed back there...

                      2. Blind Mind Apr 19, 2008 10:25 PM

                        MD - Does Red Light have a good bar for solo dining? I may try to stop by on my way home from work since I work further north. Also, what are your recs on the menu?

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Blind Mind
                          Frodnesor Apr 19, 2008 10:31 PM

                          Perfect layout for solo - diner-style bar with about 8 seats. Other than what you're seeing posted here, I don't think anyone can give any recs on the "menu," since - as several posts upthread have explained - he's currently only doing about 5-6 items (plus a few sides) on the menu at a time, and changing many of them every week.

                          1. re: Frodnesor
                            Miami Danny Apr 19, 2008 11:18 PM

                            BM-Frod is correct-Menu changes-and he's only open Th, Fri, and Sat eves for now. Haven't had a bad dish yet, and have eaten here solo many times-the bartender, Julieanne, is very sweet and easy on the eyes, so yes-I recommend solo dining. You can also see the chef cooking from the bar (he's also, I've been told, easy on the eyes), and as he's pretty much 'it' in the kitchen, it's fun to see him shuffle about (and I'm usually not a big 'let's watch the chef cook' type). Crowd an odd and interesting neighborhood mix.

                            1. re: Miami Danny
                              Blind Mind Apr 21, 2008 03:09 AM

                              Nice, its on my radar and I'll probably check it out sometime soon. Thanks for the info!

                              1. re: Blind Mind
                                Miami Danny Apr 21, 2008 05:11 PM

                                Okay-if it's on the menu, try the spiny lobster sous vide-very interesting dish. Vacuum packed and cooked at 110 degrees for twenty minutes in the thermal circulator (according to the chef-Frod), Great dish...

                                1. re: Miami Danny
                                  Blind Mind Apr 21, 2008 08:13 PM

                                  Yeah, I saw the video on your blog. Looks interesting. Was the meat really tender cooking it that way? I thought someone else also mentioned an egg dish that was really good there too?

                                  1. re: Blind Mind
                                    Frodnesor Apr 21, 2008 08:42 PM

                                    BM - egg dish was mentioned upthread by allpurposedark w/ link to pix.
                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/48215...
                                    Hasn't been on the menu when I've been there.
                                    Don't miss the barbecue shrimp.

                                    MD - thanks. I've seen a 5-hour rabbit done a couple ways on the menu my couple of visits but hadn't tried it yet.

                                    1. re: Blind Mind
                                      Miami Danny Apr 21, 2008 09:28 PM

                                      It's tender and more tasty, barely breaks down at all, and retains all of its natural sweetness without getting soggy, and no shrinkage. And I think we can all agree that's a good thing. I just think it would be more elegant if it were plated in the kitchen rather than dumped into your bowl at the table. I'll let you decide...

                                      1. re: Miami Danny
                                        Frodnesor Apr 21, 2008 09:36 PM

                                        I've done butter-poached lobster at home (Maine lobster, not spiny) using the T. Keller French Laundry method and it was magnificent - for a moment, then I put it back on the heat to rewarm for serving and overcooked it. Sous vide has the promise of being able to hit that point of done-ness without going to the point that the meat tightens, b/c you can maintain at specific temperature. Pretty cool.

                          2. n
                            Nick May 23, 2008 02:57 PM

                            Just curious, what are the prices like?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Nick
                              Frodnesor May 24, 2008 09:27 AM

                              Nick - most items are available in half or full orders, with 1/2s at around $8-10 and full orders around $15-18. Most expensive item Friday night was the grouper for $20. We fed 2 adults and 3 kids everything you see in the post below for $100 before tip (brought our own wine). I think that was one salad, 4 1/2 orders (bbq shrimp, another shrimp, ribs, lobster), 2 full orders (steak, quail), 2 sides, 3 desserts.

                              1. re: Frodnesor
                                n
                                Nick May 25, 2008 06:03 AM

                                Thanks for the breakdown.

                            2. Frodnesor May 23, 2008 09:51 PM

                              Report from a visit Friday night w/ responses to some comments upthread ->

                              - It's still not quite what most folks would consider a full menu, but the menu was at least a little bit longer than I've seen previously. Probably about 10-12 or so items total to choose from (aside from vegetable sides), most available in 1/2 or full portions.

                              - Some new items on the menu I hadn't seen before, including the strawberry grouper (strawberry being a description of the fish, not of the components of the preparation) mentioned upthread, a shrimp dish w/ preserved lemon and fried green tomatoes, a quail and a minute steak.

                              - Our group had some "old favorites" and some new items - 1/2 order of bbq shrimp for Little Miss F, 1/2 order of smoked ribs for her friend, a salad of bitter greens, grapefruit, goat cheese, & almonds, the new shrimp dish, the lobster sous vide, and the quail for Mrs. F and myself, and the minute steak for Frod Jr., sides of squash & tomatoes (Little Miss F's choice!) and the rice of the day, which was a long grain rice w/ coconut and pistachios.

                              - The kitchen was a bit slow getting our dishes out, and they brought us a couple servings of the ceviche to tide us over. The flavors were pretty good, fish was a corvina, I think, not too overwhelmingly citrus-y, a whiff of some spice, corn and pumpkin seeds, but I thought the fish was left in too big pieces and it was very tough and difficult to cut.

                              - The bbq shrimp were great as usual, the ribs good as well (still more chewy than tender and plenty smoky), the salad very refreshing if you're ok with some bitter flavors (indeed the menu calls them "biting greens"). The ribs came with a fruit salad of mango and watermelon which was very assertively spiced, and which I didn't quite get.

                              - As for the new (at least for us) items: shrimp dish #2 I liked quite a bit, the shrimp were more mildly flavored than the potent bbq shrimp but still spiked with the tang of preserved lemon, and the fried green tomatoes were excellent. The lobster sous vide was a good dish, though I agree with MD - the tableside sous vide "presentation" with the snipping of the baggie with scissors and dumping into the bowl just doesn't do it for me. Interesting that while the sous vide prep does provide a more tender lobster than some other preps, it's still to me not quite as luxurious as a perfectly done butter-poached lobster (though the results are probably much more consistently duplicated). I didn't try the minute steak but Frod Jr. didn't love it, not a great piece of meat, still had a good bit of silverskin. The rice was really good - I know it sounds odd to get excited over a side dish of rice, but it was really tasty stuff.

                              - The standout dish of the night - the "Holy shit that's good" dish - was the quail. A full order brought two birds, deboned except for wings and legs, perfectly roasted, stuffed w/ cubed brioche and sauced w/ mushrooms and roasted cherries w/ a sweet reduction. Wow - this was a knockout dish. Good thing I got the full order, as the kids ate most of one bird themselves after I made the mistake of giving them a taste. For those who have seen the movie "Flirting with Disaster," think "Lonnie's Special Quail" - mind-blowingly good.

                              - Closed out the meal with mango sorbet (delicious) and a slice of chocolate bourbon cake (like a big brownie, which is not necessarily a bad thing either).

                              - We had to wait a while to get our dishes (even though we were the first, and only, folks in the place for a while) but I did not notice any tension as MD described. The bartendress (is that what you call a female bartender?) is just wonderful, and they've now got two guys waiting the tables who seem to know what they're doing. Service is certainly no worse, and is tremendously more friendly, than any number of places on South Beach. I will say this, though - it is an intimate place. Not intimate as in "romantic and cozy," but moreso that it almost feels like you're eating in someone's house. So I can easily imagine that if someone had a tiff before service started, you might get a sense of it.

                              - It's becoming increasingly clear that Kris marches to the beat of his own drummer and I suspect that as long as it will work, he'll be happy to be open only 3 nights a week and to have only 10 things on the menu. And if he somehow has the financial ability to do so, then I'm not sure why it can't work. Plenty of restaurants used to just have a fixed daily menu, and did just fine with it. Chez Panisse in Berkeley did this for decades before opening the Cafe with an a la carte menu. Now please, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Red Light is in the same league as Chez Panisse, only that the idea of a short, regularly changing menu is not completely ridiculous.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Frodnesor
                                Miami Danny May 26, 2008 11:39 AM

                                The problem with only a few menu items is that it gets boring very quickly. And you don't know if something you loved will be there next time. The BBQ Shrimp alone are not great enough for me to keep going back, especially if I know that the restaurant may run out of food, and I may not get served at all, which happened to me recently. I also don't like waiting an hour for my food, which also happened recently. I like the place, and I like much of the food, but if you have to wait so long, or it never comes at all, what's the point? And not everyone wants to go to dinner at 6PM, Frod.

                                1. re: Miami Danny
                                  Frodnesor May 26, 2008 01:59 PM

                                  MD - first, it was 6:30pm (we just missed the Early Bird Special!) and anyway, I still had to wait nearly an hour for my food too. But there were at least 4 menu items I'd never seen before (and I've gone just about once a week since they first opened), a couple of which were real stand-outs (shrimp & fried green tomatoes, quail) so I'm not of the same mind on the boredom factor (yet). Nonetheless, the place undoubtedly has its flaws and, I hear what you're saying, it's not entirely clear that they're super-motivated to fix them.

                                  1. re: Frodnesor
                                    Miami Danny May 26, 2008 05:27 PM

                                    Amen, brother. And I'm not trying to be hard on this place-I just hope that the motivation starts to kick in before the backlash. And from the lack of posts here for the last month, I can only surmise that something is afoot.

                                    1. re: Miami Danny
                                      j
                                      jessierandall Jun 14, 2008 07:25 AM

                                      Last night was my first visit to Red Light. (When we got to the restaurant, I mistakenly assumed that the women standing in front of the place in the mesh top and stilettoed boots was a valet. Time for an eye exam.)

                                      We ordered wine and Red Stripes but I will forgo descriptions. The wine list is not quite there yet.

                                      We started with the oyster pie. The table thought this dish was the hit of the night. It was perfectly spiced and the crust was delicate. Overall, delectable.

                                      We ordered both the bbq shrimp (wonderful, sweet and vinegary) as well as the shrimp with preserved lemon (also good, but somehow less memorable).

                                      We moved on to an order of steamed vegges (really, really good, don't laugh), the bbq ribs (fabulous) with a side of addictive watermelon and basil, mac n cheese (the morbier made it finger lickin'), the rice (um, a little crunchy and watery), the pulled pork and queso sandwich (others thought this was good, I thought it was meh), the fish of the day with tomato (bland, fishy, overcooked) and the tart of the day- coconut apple. (I loved the tart: it tasted like noodle kugel, Others at the table disliked it intensely.)

                                      Despite some slip-ups and misses, I loved this place. It has a charm and quirkiness that I find very appealing. The downstairs area on the river is lovely and strangely romantic. I even liked the bar that is bandaided with tin foil.

                                      I will definitely go back again. This time, however, I won't let the women in the mesh top park the car. (Kidding.)

                              2. Frodnesor Sep 12, 2008 08:09 PM

                                A few Red Light updates, both generally and from a visit this evening ->

                                - they have expanded their Thu-Sat opening times and I believe are now open 6 nights a week (closed Monday?).

                                - the outdoor area down by the Little River is now open and operating.

                                - the menu is somewhat expanded these days, though still probably a lot shorter than most other area restaurants - generally about 10 various soups, salads, apps or small dishes, and about 8 or so options for mains, and several veg side options. Menu changes very regularly though many dishes (i.e. bbq shrimp) are semi-regulars.

                                - the valet now wears a "Hi - My Name is *Valet*" sticker to helpfully identify himself as the valet, and not the neighborhood car thief. He also now charges $5 (I believe they had issues with the owner of the lot across the street they had been using).

                                - the food remains good and relatively cheap, the service remains, well, well-meaning and quirky. They've upped the staffing both for waitstaff and in the kitchen, which should help. If you're not in a rush, it'll generally all work out fine in the end.

                                I had one great new dish on a visit this evening, a sea scallop (nice scallop, perfectly cooked w/o overcooking) w/ a sauce spiked w/ sauteed leek and apple, topped with a crispy julienne of purple Peruvian potato. This one really worked. A braised rabbit was soft and tender (too often I find rabbit tough and stringy), in a braising sauce with plums and mushrooms. Frod Jr. is loving the minute steak. And we've never had an ice cream or sorbet there that we didn't like.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Frodnesor
                                  dmo305 Sep 23, 2008 08:57 AM

                                  Dropped in around midnight on Friday to grab a lite bite and a few drinks. There was a couple inside and several couples at the outside tables. We had large orders of the BBQ Shrimp and the "little river smoked" ribs, and a plum glazed roasted quail w/ pumpkin rice.

                                  The shrimp were delicious as always, only complaint is that I need like an extra loaf of bread to dip into that sauce. Tried the ribs for the first time, and they were very nice. Meat was tender and smokey. 10 ribs came in a large order running about $17. Way more than enough to share. GF got the quail and somehow i didn't even get a bite! She thought it was nice but not quite as good as one from the previous night (sardinia). I did get to try the pumpkin rice, and as far as rices go, it was really really good. big hit.

                                  I think this place is a great option for a late bite. The riverside seating is very relaxing and I could see myself enjoying plenty of cocktails out there.

                                  1. re: dmo305
                                    Frodnesor Sep 23, 2008 09:08 AM

                                    I think the rib prep has been recently changed for the better. On prior visits they have had good flavor but were pretty tough-textured, but on our last visit they were much more tender and succulent. A nice slaw of julienned apple & watermelon on the side too. I love the quail.

                                2. m
                                  mikek Sep 29, 2008 07:05 AM

                                  Made it back to Red Light for dinner last night. A couple of things before I get to the food...they will be starting lunch this week on Thur or Fri and be serving a lunch-focused menu from Tuesday-Sunday every day. Also, the back patio area looks great and it would be awesome if they got some live music down there.

                                  On to the food...whenever they have a chowder on the menu, I highly recommend ordering it. The first couple of times I got it, it was the conch chowder that blew me away. Last night it was a coconut/key lime/fish chowder. It was seasoned perfectly and all of the flavors were perfectly balanced with one another. It almost tasted like a Thai dish, and was delicious.

                                  We got an order of the ribs next. While they were not low-n-slow, they did a great job with the St Louis style - they were spicy, tender, fall off the bone and flavorful. Great dish. The apple/watermelon/cilantro accompaniment was delicious as well.

                                  My one friend ordered the "fall in florida" salad, which he seemed to enjoy, and my other friend got the bbq shrimp, which is always outstanding.

                                  One friend ordered the filet mignon dish, which I did not try, but he said was outstanding. The one next to me ordered the burger that he said was good, but not as good as those at Michael's or Clarke's. My other friend and I shared the spiny lobster with corn hash and a special veal dish with smothered peppers. The veal dish was a bit heavy, but very very good. The peppers and mushroom sauce really elevated the dish and the spiny lobster is one of the best deals in town. Nice sized portion and it was definitely the winning dish of the night.

                                  1. Frodnesor Nov 15, 2008 07:19 AM

                                    Red Light is now open for lunch Thu-Sat 12-3; will eventually be doing lunch all week long. Also doing happy hour 4-6, and eventually will be doing some bar foods during this time too. Believe you can also get some of Chef Kris' homemade ice creams at the Vagabond Market across the street Saturday and Sunday.

                                    1. The Chowfather Nov 30, 2008 05:23 AM

                                      Finally made it over to Red Light and was very impressed. Ordered BBQ shrimp, ribs, mussels and a side of mac n cheese. I'm a big New Orleans BBQ shrimp fan and these were very good BUT it was the ribs that we were fighting over. Heard from table "these are the best ribs I've ever had" They were tender and packed with flavor. Mussels were small but the broth (don't recall what it was) was full of flavor too.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: The Chowfather
                                        Frodnesor Nov 30, 2008 06:00 AM

                                        I took some friends for their first visit this weekend and they were also impressed. Funny, it was the NO BBQ shrimp that got a "best shrimp I ever had" from one of our guests. I reall enjoy the way many of the dishes change with what's seasonal - the quail usually gets paired with some fruit, but the fruit always changes depending on what's growing. I've had it with mulberry (local grown - who knew?), plum, pear, most recently persimmon (I've always wondered what to do with these) as well as different variations on the accompaniment - bread and goat cheese salad, mushrooms, potato hash, etc. It's an interesting way of keeping the menu somewhat steady while still mixing it up.

                                        The kitchen also seemed really in sync. We've had some long waits before (OK when it's just us; sometimes difficult when we've brought guests) but they were really firing on all cylinders.

                                        1. re: The Chowfather
                                          Icantread Nov 30, 2008 09:05 AM

                                          On our last visit, the shrimp and scallops won out over the ribs as well. The ribs were very good but not as standout. The scallops are a small dish, but really some of the most well executed I've eaten.

                                          1. re: The Chowfather
                                            s
                                            Sinicle Mar 17, 2009 04:15 PM

                                            First visit earlyish on Sat night and we were very impressed. Service knowledgeable and helpful. The oyster pie was outstanding as was the oyster stew (special that night). I had tilefish creole style which was excellent and mooched some very tasty dry rubbed ribs ( I like the extra pork fat on these...what is the point of ribs if not fat ). The "renowned" BBQ shrimp were good, but didn't blow me away, just had a nice sauce with heavy Worcestershire overtones. The rice pudding with fruit was very interesting, unusual and tasty. The evening was a winner.

                                          2. m
                                            mikek Nov 30, 2008 09:48 AM

                                            Has anyone been for lunch yet? Is the menu any different from their dinner offerings? I would love to see them start up a re-invented diner-style brunch on Sundays.

                                            1. dmo305 Apr 23, 2009 03:22 PM

                                              So I wrote a whole long report and lost it when my browser restarted! Long story short- this place rocks.

                                              After several more visits, this place has only been tightening up and getting better and better. The food is consistently very good and the service has improved by leaps and bounds since the early days.

                                              On our last visit, 4 of us walked in on a Sunday night after they had already started putting the kitchen away. Momentarily stunned, standing there and planning the next move, Chef Kris told us to sit down and opened the kitchen back up. After taking our seats at the bar, a app order-sized amuse of some delicious traditional style Ceviche was placed in front of each of us. We had all the usual favorites, including the Ribs (smokier than I remember and very delicious), Mussels (w/ meyer lemon and herbs I didn't even get a bite), N.O. BBQ Shrimp ('nuff said), and the Quail (with mushroom spoonbread, berries, greens, pate, and toast). We also tried the Striped Eggplant Salad which was great, my first salad at RL. Grilled cubes of eggplant tossed with arugula rubbed w/ feta. Coffee ice cream was superb as is the RL Rice Pudding (my GF all-time favorite dessert). Rice pudding is served topped with a light simple syrup spiked w/ rum, chopped fresh coconut meat, and a couple berries. This is a special rendition of arroz con leche. My two guests were raving and talking about how quickly they would return here.

                                              A couple other dishes from other meals that should be noted include a Chayote stuffed with Biscayne Bay Shrimp (chayote was melt in your mouth texture and shrimp was a generous amount), and the Seafood Gumbo w/ shrimp, crab, and various other goodies.

                                              If you are still sleeping on this place then you need to WAKE UP.

                                              1. The Chowfather Apr 23, 2009 04:55 PM

                                                Miami D and Frod both spoke highly of their burger so I gave it a shot during lunch and it did not disappoint. One of the best I've had in SFla. Great meat, perfectly seasoned, great bun, cheese, onions etc etc etc. Check it out

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: The Chowfather
                                                  s
                                                  SKhan Apr 23, 2009 06:21 PM

                                                  I most definitely agree - one of the best burgers I've ever eaten!

                                                2. Frodnesor Oct 16, 2009 06:07 PM

                                                  Reviving this thread just to mention a few new items of the menu of late.

                                                  - oxtail - had this a few weeks ago, a really nice braise with a sticky sweet glaze with just a backnote of spice, served with a great star fruit jam.

                                                  - grilled cheeses - a few different variations - one with fontina and bacon, another with lobster and tomato, and the version that just slayed me tonight, with foie gras, mushrooms, and more of that star fruit jam. Wow.

                                                  - didn't try it, but there was also a good-sounding wilted spinach salad with a poached egg and bacon and a mustard-vidalia dressing.

                                                  - also really like the smoked fish dip. And the oyster pie.

                                                  What impresses me is that the prices have still basically held pat from when this place opened about a year and a half ago. The only item on the menu over $20 is a steak, there are still plenty things you can get for under $10, and our family of four can eat a bunch of food and each of the adults can have a couple beers all for about $100.

                                                  www.foodforthoughtmiami.com

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Frodnesor
                                                    dmo305 Oct 17, 2009 11:16 PM

                                                    Had the oxtails recently they were amazing. Also had the local spiny lobster with hash and the "i miss my mexican girlfriend" chile relleno with blue crab... both excellent.

                                                    1. re: dmo305
                                                      m
                                                      miachef Oct 18, 2009 01:38 PM

                                                      I had the oxtail with figs and the "Latina caught my eye" (poblano stuffed with blue crab) last night. Both delicious though the oxtail with the figs was probably one of the best dishes I've had there. I'm determined to go back soon to try the foie gras and starfruit jam sandwich. Sounds decadent.

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