Tuesday 15 January 2008

Soyka's Trendy, Bustling Atmosphere Showcases Classy Mix of Old and New

Soyka Restaurant Cafe and Bar
5556 NE 4th Ct
Miami, FL USA 33137

Where is it?

Quite a trek from the entrance, since the place (a converted railway station that's now a bustling, hip eatery just north of Miami's downtown area) is literally huge. To get to the bathrooms, head down the left side of the place (leaving from the hostess stand) until you reach the back of the dining room. There, you'll find an open kitchen line. Turn 90 degrees (so you're facing the back corner (the exact opposite corner from where you entered), and head that way. Once you're there, enter a little hallway just past that corner, turn left, and go down about 100 feet. The bathrooms are on the left, in a little enclave that also holds an ATM. It's dark back there, so use the illuminated ATM screen as a destination marker.

What's it like?

This trendy Miami hot spot used to be a railway station, and the decor here doesn't forget that past. There's an old train station clock against one wall, a slick concrete floor that evokes a late-Industrial Age vibe, and plenty of brass, bronze and pewter lighting fixtures and decorations. Because it inhabits such a large, open space, the dining room is very noisy -- clearly it's a place to mingle and be seen -- and there's an emphasis on cocktails here (the martini menu is huge). The dining menu, in turn, contains many Jewish comfort foods, like matzoh ball soup, liver pate and more. A clever, ironic touch, I thought, especially since you expect such a place to serve trendier fare.

The toilets extend the dining room's motif. This is a dark place, with a two-sink vanity to one side (and an ornately framed mirror hanging above them), two classic urinals (stretching to the floor and without dividers or auto-flush features), and two stalls, one to each side, both behind dark beige stalls that mingle well with the rust-colored tiles on the floor and the deep gray floor tiles. It's a clean place (impressive, considering the place was humming during my visit) and cave-like, because of the lighting and location. It's anything but private-feeling, though. I didn't have much solitude here, and as a result I often felt hurried and even a little disjointed.

Marks out of 10:

7. Great decor, but the busy atmosphere knocks it down a notch. Sometimes, you just want a little peace.

Comments to the Management:

Since the place thrives on its hustle and bustle atmosphere, I would suggest changing the bathrooms so they better prepare people for this. Increase the lighting some so the environment doesn't seem so cave-like. Also, consider piping in some house music -- perhaps at a volume that's a little higher than standard conversation level -- to evoke the spirit of the dining room more here.

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