The route from downtown Miami or South Beach to Buena Vista's restaurant strip traverses the posh Design District, a neighborhood speckled with Christian Louboutin stilettos and a luxury flagship shop by Hermès. Just a few blocks north is Little Haiti, where many families eke out a living with annual incomes lower than the average price of a Birkin handbag.
Between NE 42nd and 56th streets on Second Avenue, in the heart of Buena Vista, street lamps are scarce and potholes are plenty. Dingy markets contrast with the nearby upscale stores. But on the west side of the avenue, a restaurant row has sprung up with cuisines that bounce from French to Aegean to Japanese fusion. Intimate spaces, concise menus, and unfussy environs characterize the blithe, bohemian culinary vibe. It's the kind of place to visit when reservations-required South Beach or mustache-optional Wynwood just won't suffice.
On a recent Friday at 8 p.m., the pebbled parking lot near 46th Street was occupied by four or five cars. At Lemoni Café, families chatted over casual soups and sandwiches. Buena Vista Bistro buzzed with diners munching on escargots à la provençal and grouper with beurre blanc.
But nearby at the Embassy, a self-proclaimed gastropub that opened in December 2012, the setting was quiet and still. Through the windows, blue and black Arabic-style lamps illuminated an elfin, mismatched dining room. Printed across a black chalkboard, menu listings included lamb ragout with spaetzle, duck egg with clams and chorizo, and a barbecued wild boar sandwich. Two forgotten glasses of red wine rested atop a wooden table.
I pulled on the door's handle, but it wouldn't budge. There was no handwritten notice at the entrance or explanatory message on the answering machine. The restaurant was empty. The space was inexplicably closed.
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