Red Light, Yellow Light
Proceed with caution.
We waited a while to go to Red Light in MiMo, giving the restaurant a
chance to get their act together. I was optimistic for a new spot, but
the meal was more miss than hit. After finding no parking at the hotel,
I dropped off the crew and parked on 77th, passing the transvestite
hookers and sketchy locals on the way in. I tried to get a reservation all
day, but my three calls and e-mail went unreturned (bad sign). We had
little problem getting a table at 8:00 for four outside near the river.
The seating outside was interesting and the locals on the bridge and
at Black Gold were enough to keep us entertained. At one point, a
security guard from Black Gold was yelling at a vagrant to not throw trash
into the river and we thought there might be gun play. No such luck
On to the food. We tried the BBQ shrimp, the other shrimp dish with the
fried green tomoato, the snapper, the ribs and the rabbit. We also
ordered a side of rice of the day and mac and cheese. Of these dishes, the
only standouts were the shrimp dishes, but neither were served with
the shell or head on which I prefer. The portions were very small
(4shrimp for the half order and 8 for the full) and the shrimp themselves were
two bite shrimp. The sauces stood out and we ordered two more portions
of bread to dip in the sauce. The rabbit was overcooked and a bit of a
mess. The snapper was good, but again a very small portion (think one
filet of a small yellowtail). The ribs were just plain bad. Chewy and
grisely, not tender at all. Some of the ribs had almost no meat on them.
Two of the three who ordered the lemon cocktail thought it was too
tart to finish and the wine selection was limited and uninspired. Nothing
was a "homerun" or a "wow" dish and we found some of the food to be
good, but not great. The rice, mac and cheese, ribs and rabbit were not
The service was very poor. They forgot our mac and cheese although we
asked for it twice. We ended up having it for desert. It was not very
good at all and we left most of it on the table. We asked three times for
more bread and eventually it came at about the time we were finishing
our meals. Didn't wait for desert and went on my sketchy walk to my car
down 77th street. When I returned with the car, the security guy gave
me a bunch of grief for waiting in the hotel parking lot to pick up my
wife and friends. I thought it would have been nice for him to offer to
walk me to my car or at least stand gaurd while I walked down the
block, but instead got attitude about not being able to park in an empty
spot for 5 minutes to wait for my party.
All in all, it was a bad experience. Nothing stood out from our meal
and unless things change drastically, I doubt we will return with so many
other options in the area.
I had a similar experience, although no hookers or yelling from the strip club. We started with pulled pork sandwiches; which had a strange heat, almost tasted like they used cayenne for heat and nothing else. It was served with two ribs, which had about a teaspoon of sauce, way too much smoke taste, and were very tough. The braised rabbit leg was one the driest peices of meat i've ever had, which is remarkable since it was sitting in a pool of sauce. BBQ shrimp had a nice flavor, however the sauce was gritty and the shrimp were of poor quality - almost like frozer black tiger shrimp. The mac and cheese was overcooked, and greasy. All the dishes lacked salt, and were garnished with curly parsley. We also had "ginger" iced tea, which had no trace of ginger in it, and the tea was weak. There were also three cooks in the kitchen, for about 8 diners, and it took an unusually long amount of time to get our food.
I would not go back, however the space was nice, and has a lot of potential.
"If these are things that are going to bother you - don't go!" Maybe these are things that the restaurant could rectify? Like having valet parking. Or having their own security guard. They can certainly rectify the shoddy service, no? As far as the food, maybe the quail's on the menu, maybe it isn't. Maybe the burger's Kobe, maybe it isn't. I can only eat so much shrimp. And with Pacific Time doing a shrimp dish for $7, there are now cheap choices, as I like to call them.
re: Miami Danny
re: Miami Danny
LOL No it's quite a different scene now, although still colorful. They have valet parking or you can just park across Biscayne at the Auto Parts place. There are families and couples-the other night I saw at least one state's attorney and a prominent food critic. Two words-spiny lobster!
re: Miami Danny
I've been taking my family there regularly since they opened nearly 1 1/2 years ago and don't really understand what all the fuss has been about as far as the "scene."
To my eyes, Biscayne Boulevard is no more or less dodgy than it was a year ago. There's still the occasional trickle of vagrants and hookers along the Boulevard depending on when you're there. They have had valet parking for nearly a year. The club next door has gone through several incarnations since it was "Black Gold," and is now apparently a combination sports bar/titty bar under the Club Madonna banner (how's that for multiple "concepts", Burger & Beer Joint?). I don't see much cross-over business.
I certainly don't feel that the restaurant itself is in any way unsafe; and if I'm walking to my car across the street I have my head on a swivel - just like I do in the Design District or even South Beach if it's late.
Having said that, the menu certainly has expanded a bit from the opening days (though not dramatically), Kris has gotten more help in the kitchen, he's gotten some FOH help as well, the wine list is a bit longer and has some nice options, the food quality is more consistent, and the wait time for the food is generally improved (though can still be pretty variable). The a/c still struggles in the summer.
Despite some warts, it remains one of our regular rotation places. Great food, friendly people, reasonable prices.
Actually I believe the Boulevard is much safer than a year ago, and the motel itself is certainly less seedy (although some seeds do remain). The 'Boulevard' club is back to being a strip club for the moment, with lovely half-naked hostesses sitting outside to the delight of passing motorists. But they don't appear to be too busy. The gas station across the street, ground zero for skells, is under construction and will have better lighting-perfect for when you need to buy a pack of cigarettes but don't want to get shivved. With Anise going strong, there is more of a police patrol presence on these blocks as well. Agree there should be fewer hookers. Does a lap dance count as a concept?
Also, try the chocolate cake.
We go to Red Light regularly; there is no better bargain to be had in south Florida. The food is exceptional and the cost is downright reasonable. Bring your own wine, or drink one of the good beers from the bar, and you can't go wrong.
You can always park on the side street just south of Motel Blu; it's safe and legal.
Kris is a treasure; help him succeed.
I have generally gone earlier rather than later (by MD's characterization I'm potentially elderly AND with children) and so haven't had to deal with parking or "local character" issues. As for parking, there are spaces alongside the hotel on 77th Street and also on the other side of 77th street, and given the limited seating in the restaurant I can't believe all of this gets filled up, though I could be wrong. I thought they also had a valet out front now, but again could be wrong. But to follow up further on the tranny hooker / sketchy local issue - the place is called "Red Light" for a reason. It's in an area historically notorious for streetwalkers which has been cleaned up to a large degree but not completely. It's next to a strip club called "Black Gold." It is still an area where I have my head on a swivel as I'm walking back to my car. If these are things that are going to bother you - don't go!
As for the service - they've been open long enough now that they should be doing better. If the downstairs outdoor area has now been opened, that may be what's now thrown them out of whack, as they seemed to be improving in each of our more recent experiences.
As for what really matters - the food - I've actually had a few things there that to my taste were "wow" dishes: the bbq shrimp; the burger; the quail come to mind. I would put any of those dishes up against any similar dish in town and think they'd compare favorably. I've had a number of others that have been good enough to order again - the shrimp w/ preserved lemon and fried green tomatoes, the salad w/ grapefruit, goat cheese and "biting greens", the eggs w/ morbier, the oyster pie, the ribs (though I also wish these were more tender and less chewy), the mango sorbet (indeed just about any of the homemade ice creams). There have been a number of others that I've not been wowed by as well.
No doubt their wine selection is quite short but at least they're decent wines, though I usually bring my own (and they've never even charged corkage).
For me, to be able to get 2-3 of these dishes for about $20-30 and bring my own wine is still a great deal and a great meal. It's too bad others have not had as satisfying experiences.
The parking on 77th is posted as no parking and a tow away zone on the South side. I'm not sure about the North side. The lot at the hotel was full so we had to park down the street. It was funny when I pulled up and thought there was a valet. As my friend said, "I don't think he's a valet guy, but I'm sure he would take your car!" I think the place would be better served with a bigger parking lot/valet. I also think that they should have taken the location of the Indian place on the East side of Biscayne as it is also on the river and has a bigger lot. I'm fine eating at good restaurants in bad neighborhoods and do so all of time. I just think you shouldn't feel unsafe walking to or from your car.
As for the food, I really didn't think it was a great deal, given the small portions. $18 for 8 medium shrimp in some worstechire and butter? I can do Michaels for the same amount that we spent and the experience is night and day. Maybe we didn't order right as they didn't have the quail on the menu and I didn't feel like a burger for dinner, but the only standout of the night was the sauce on the BBQ shrimp. The shrimp themselves were not up to SoFla standards. What's the deal with no head or shell? I would think any chef knows that's where all the flavor is. Like the poster below, I thought they might have been frozen.
Maybe we hit Red Light on an off night, but I thought they would do better since they had been open for a while. Keep posting pros and cons of this place and if they become consistant and get a valet, maybe I will go back for a try. I'll have a hard time convincing my wife.