Being an artist generally implies the pursuit of personal vision over commercial viability; if the latter comes at all, it does so serendipitously. Yet chefs who see themselves as artists rarely take this tack: An empty restaurant costs a whole lot more than an unsold canvas.
So when a chef/owner describes his or her modest establishment as an expression of personality, the unspoken presumption is that this individual ideal is naturally compromised by and calibrated to the tastes of potential customers.
Micah Edelstein makes no such concessions. Nemesis Urban Bistro is what she wants her restaurant to be -- take it or leave it. She lets guests know this sentiment via stenciled lettering on the front door: "Those lacking imagination and a sense of humor are not welcome at Nemesis. Please return from whence you came, and do not darken our door again!"
It's a twist on the traditional "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" signage. But don't let the warning put you off. I didn't, and Edelstein had made it clear that the disclaimer was aimed at people like me. The fiery former Top Chef contestant had taken issue with a blog post I'd written in which Nemesis topped my list of Miami's six worst restaurant names. Her response: "It is evident from your words that you would have to stop at the threshold. Please don't bother to come here, as you are not welcome at my table with an attitude such as this."
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A restaurateur telling a reviewer to stay away is quirky, all right. Doing so is indicative of a confident, independent person -- even if it might also suggest thin skin and a lack of regard for commercial viability. More pertinent, because this was a first for me, I wasn't sure how to handle the review etiquette. So I waited until the restaurant had been open a year before paying a visit.
I'm glad I ignored the warning, because Nemesis dizzies with its spins on convention. If you choose to accept Edelstein's challenge and enter her restaurant, you will be greeted by visible confirmation of the creative and eclectic sensibility at work.