The goods: Kris Wessel helms Florida Cookery, a contemporary nod to local cooking at The James Royal Palm hotel.
Ambience: The mod, Mad Men-esque dining room is outfitted with white leather booths, gray ocean murals and tables tiled with patchwork wood.
The grub: Hyper-regional cooking with Caribbean, Latin and Southern influences. Wessel sources from local farms and fisheries to create a menu that pays homage to Florida’s food heritage. Prices are in keeping with the upscale hotel: Starters $9-$14, mains in the $30s.
Start with homemade roti bread and curry dipping sauce, then move onto lemon chicken soup, grapefruit-guajillo ceviche or guava-duck confit with egg, cheese and rosemary toast. Red Light’s “Biscayne Blvd shrimp” is on the menu, as are salads like “Latina Caught the Gringo’s Eye” with grilled squab breast, foie gras and endive and “CSA Box” salad with seasonal produce from Homestead’s Sons and Daughters Farm. Mains include veal vaca frita, pecan-dusted grouper with grit cakes and Suwannee River Ranch grilled wild boar chops with sapodilla jam, ajo cassava and spinach.
Desserts include house-made sour orange sorbet, coconut-lime gelato and Puerto Rican pineapple rum cake.
Verdict: A daring menu of hyper-local eats in a mod, breezy setting.