By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
Though only two other tables were occupied, Wessel and a staffer spent the entire course of our lunch in the dining room while conveying orders via cell phone set on speakerphone. He discussed an upcoming party — coincidentally being thrown by Schrager. Garbage cans had to be set up, paper menus must be cleaned, and copious beer glasses would be required. Wessel's voice was hurried and tense. The conversation continued for about a half-hour. Everyone in the room could hear it.
Wessel hung up and disappeared. A few minutes later, he resurfaced. He directed an employee who was lugging a six-foot-tall potted kumquat tree across the dining room and onto the restaurant's patio. They soon accommodated the plant outside in a corner. Once it was in place, the lines on Wessel's face softened. He took a step back. With his arms crossed, he peered at the greenery and smiled.
1545 Collins Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Region: South Beach
Florida Cookery, James Royal Palm Hotel, 1545 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-276-0333; florida-cookery.com. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday through Sunday 8 a.m. to midnight.
Oxtail, oyster, and alligator empanadas $14
Kris' Biscayne Boulevard shrimp $10
Sticky guanabana-glazed ribs $19
Fluger Family Traps spiny lobster $34
Puerto Rican pineapple rum cake $9
Miami's beloved Little River chef will eventually find enough kumquat shrubs for his new beach locale. Till then, expect more of the frazzled service. And while Florida Cookery grows into its big, swanky SoBe setting, you can always just hope for some delicious, free lobster.