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Get Yer Dada Out

Bulbous black ants -- each a foot long -- appear to crawl across the light gray walls in the corners of the room, which is also graced by several Daliesque paintings. In fact the painted insects, a favorite of the Spanish surrealist, could have marched off a Dali canvas and into the side parlor here at Dada, the arty new coffeehouse/lounge/restaurant in Delray Beach.

Housed in the 1924 Tarrimore House, a quaint, light green bungalow, Dada takes its name from the European "anti-art" movement spawned when a handful of painters and poets fled to Switzerland during World War I. There they gathered at the Cabaret Voltaire, a "literary nightclub" that is the inspiration for Delray's Dada.

"It's a little bit more of a beatnik coffeehouse. No loud music. No dancing," says co-owner Rodney Mayo. "We'll have art showings, acoustic bands, poetry readings, maybe a mystery night. It's just a gathering place."

Mayo opened Dada last weekend with partner and chef Scott Frielich, who serves up an appropriately disparate menu that features fondue, seafood, steaks, gourmet pizza, frittatas, unique salads, and decadent homemade desserts.

Dadaists were more into making nihilistic statements than creating art in a specific style, but Dadaist thought gave rise to surrealism, upon which the new Delray spot draws heavily for its décor. There are the Dali-like ants and several psychedelic paintings. Art Deco and pop art influences are also evident, including a black, kidney-shape couch with a backrest that resembles a suitcase handle and "futuristic" lamps and light fixtures from the '50s and '60s.

A corner bar in the main room is topped with brushed stainless steel, and glass shelves full of liquor bottles occupy a large picture window. Throughout the space -- and on the brick patio out front -- square bistro tables are topped with slate, allowing patrons to doodle with colored chalk. A true Dadaist might make a nihilistic statement and draw nothing, of course, but where's the fun in that?

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John Ferri

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