Gatsby's

Gatsby's (8575 SW 124th Ave., Miami; 305-412-2220) is one of the few pubs to successfully capture the air of a bygone era without kitsch overload. The upscale sports bar/restaurant's dim confines recall the plush cigar parlors and smoky speakeasies of the Twenties. Colorful paintings of jiving partiers adorn the walls, and oversize booths provide cozy seating for intimate conversation.

Of Gatsby's several alcoves, the most impressive is the classy Fitzgerald Room, decked out in old-school elegance with an intimate bar and leather couches. But that's about where the retro theme ends. There's no jazz or big-band music booming from a jukebox, no neo-flappers, and no one doing the lindy hop. On a recent Sunday night, Limp Bizkit, Nirvana, and Jimi Hendrix played in the background. Hospitality industry employees wearing kitchen garb arrived for In the Biz specials, and a horde of beer-chugging patrons shot rounds on the regulation-size pool tables.

Kendall denizens can expect to see their regular bartenders from Bougainvillea's and Sunset Tavern taking advantage of the free pool and buffet. Familiar faces were all too many. In the few hours I was there, I hid from an ex's entourage, former hookups, a friend's former hookup, high school acquaintances, and other people from my past.

At the main bar, an attentive bartender gave my date and me the rundown of tasty and not-so-tasty drinks, and finally suggested a Southern Comfort lemon cocktail. Next to us, a couple groped and licked each other while another inebriated pair approached them and asked if they could eat their leftovers. The strange antics continued with Al, who kept insisting we look at his wife's rear. "Fifteen years of marriage and four kids later! Look at that ass. She's hot," he said. His wife, who didn't look a day older than 30, smiled awkwardly and did a half-turn for our viewing pleasure.

 
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