Re: Embankment, esplanade, quay or...
Esplandade is a fine word, but it's not very common in the US.
To tell you the truth, I myself did not know it was associated with a shoreline. That is why you probably encountered a pause.
Are you referring to what was built up to keep the water in place? Then it's leveled off so you can walk or bike along it? I'm trying to remember what it's called in New Orleans - I've walked along it myself.
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.