The Who: Argentine-born, French-trained chef Alan Hughes has returned to the Buena Vista neighborhood with The Embassy, a 40-seat bistro serving eclectic European food. Hughes is known for his pioneering One Ninety restaurant, which opened in 2001 a few blocks away, and enjoyed a three-year run.
Occupying the former Blue Piano space with a limited kitchen (convection oven, fryer and miniscule flat top), Hughes churns out dinner and brunch in a space that exudes bohemian charm, from chalkboard walls listing the ever-changing menu to shelves lined with his own line of jams, pickles and jellies. There’s live music nightly, including jazz, experimental electronic and blues; oftentimes the chef, who is also a recording artist, joins in to jam. Located just up the street from the ever-gentrifying Design District, this spot attracts neighbors looking for an unpretentious atmosphere with pedigreed cooking.
The Scene: Wine lovers, scruffy artists and Buena Vista locals dining on duck confit salad with apricots, pistachio and frisee, hefty portions of sunflower seed-crusted salmon on a bed of bok choy or coffee-glazed braised short rib with mushroom ragout. Prices are in keeping with the neighborhood vibe, with small plates ranging $6 to $12 and mains priced from $12 to $18. Beer is available on tap, including a keg of Hughes’ home brew. Desserts ($6) include Greek yogurt panna cotta with rhubarb sauce and mousse chocolate cake.
Tuesday night the place is packed for the weekly family-style special that feeds four people for $50. The current menu is roasted triggerfish with chermoula, served with a vegetable tagine, couscous and red onion and orange salad.
The Bottom Line: Come for the $50 family dinner, and stay for the funky live music and well-priced wine.