Restaurant Requiems

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Lots of restaurant deaths to report in the Miami dining world these days. For those keeping score:

SouthWest NY didn't last a New York minute in the Dolphin Mall. Maybe it's because the menu read like a fast food Tex-Mex joint ("with French and Latin influences") -- which is not at all Southwestern cuisine. And why the hell did they add "NY" to the moniker? Made it sound like they were serving food from Poughkeepsie. Merchant's NY CIgar Bar, with same owners and location, has closed as well, a hopeful sign that perhaps Miami's cigar craze is finally snuffed out.

The second shoe has also dropped with the closing of Salero, the Spanish tapas bar located on the ground floor of the former Firehouse Four building in the Brickell area of downtown -- its formal sister Spanish eatery Mosaico, located upstairs, shuttered its doors last year. Both places started strong but then went downhill. Owner Larry Harris, founder of Pollo Tropical, will try again with a new concept. How about an affordable grilled chicken emporium?

Dennis Max will be going back to the drawing board as well after Max's Grille closed in Coral Gables. Max ruled the South Florida dining scene in the 1980s, but the times they are a-changin' -- it will be interesting to see whether his next idea for the space will reflect some newer culinary notions. Like maybe 1990s.

Restaurant Juliette, the kosher Surfside eatery, has likewise bid us adieu. In its place is The Food Gang (part market, part restaurant), which opened this past weekend. Our daily newspaper of record promises that it will be "part Provence, part Hamptons." Translation: Expensive.

Beginning with the bogus Baraboo, one dining establishment after another has failed on the breezy little boulevard off Collins Avenue known as Ocean Terrace (between 71st and 73rd streets). Latest casualty is Parioli Cafe, an Italian restaurant that was admittedly better than its predecessors, but was still overpriced and underwhelming.

All of these restaurant fatalities suggest that Miamians aren't being suckered as easily as they used to be. -Lee Klein

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