Let's just start by stating the obvious: It's hot and steamy in Miami this time of year. Too hot for tucking into a steakhouse meal of beefy pleasures with buttery sides. This is the time for dining on something lighter. The conundrum is, of course, to find something that's still big on flavor. Even though the temperature and humidity is raging, the last thing I want is some nondescript salad.
On a recent visit to Lincoln Road to pick up a backordered bookshelf, I saw a blackboard sign outside Oolite Restaurant & Bar, which invited passersby to enjoy "In Rightful Hands Wessel's BBQ Shrimp." Between the great suggestion and the fact that the restaurant offered shelter from the blistering sun, I stepped in.
See also: Kris Wessel to Open New Bar A.I.R. (Artist in Residence)
That BBQ shrimp ($14) had traveled with Kris Wessel like a well-loved companion, accompanying the chef on his journeys, starting at Red Light Little River and winding up here. The shrimp are cooked perfectly, with a satisfying snap to the bite and the sauce has a tingle that tickles the lips, rather than numbs them.
Here's the secret, however. Wessel, a native Floridian who also spent some formative years in New Orleans, cooks for this latitude. His dishes, created with local ingredients like mango, lime, coconut, and local seafood, are handled with a light touch. Even fried items like tostones ($8) and fried green tomato arepas ($9) are made deftly.