Richard Harris Takes the Reins as d.b.a./Cafe's Executive Chef

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One of Fort Lauderdale's most beloved restaurants has some big news to announce: d.b.a./Cafe , New Times' 2013 pick for "Best New Restaurant in Broward County," has welcomed a new executive chef.

Richard Harris, the brother of local celebrity chef Chris Miracolo, has taken the reins at the laid-back eatery, bringing with him a new style of cuisine, weekly specials, and monthly events -- including a Cigar City dinner next week.

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Harris, a restaurant industry veteran, has been working under his highly regarded brother for much of the past decade; his was most recently sous chef at S3 on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

About a month ago, he was offered the chance to helm his own kitchen at the neighborhood bistro.

Since it is a chef-driven eatery, Harris has already forged his stamp on the menu. The strongly French-influenced fare from original head chef Steven Zobel has morphed toward a global eclectic bent.

"Basically, I like to come in and go, 'What do I want to make today?'" says Harris. "I like to have a little bit of everything on the menu."

Expect to see items like burrata salad with heirloom tomatoes, torn basil leaves, pickled red onion, olive oil, and sea salt with grilled garlic ciabatta bread. Scallops dusted with fennel pollen, served over a mix house greens, orange supremes, and cherry tomatoes tossed with a fennel pear vinaigrette topped with crisp prosciutto are a another recent edition. The latest pork belly incarnation was served over braised red cabbage and thin-sliced watermelon with a sweet and sour glaze.

Currently, he is smoking his bacon on the premises, but would like to foray into house-cured charcuterie in the coming months.

When asked to sum up his overarching concept of cuisine, Harris asserts the closest description would be contemporary American, but he prefers to abstain from labels.

"I like to vary it up with style," says Harris. "I think it shows diversity with the chef and teaches how to cross-utilize components."

In addition to several daily specials and a new Taco Tuesday special ($5 mix and match tacos with a changing array of fillings), the menu now changes every week, as opposed to every month when the restaurant first started.

He's also brought on a new sous chef, Evan Carter, who most recently served as sous chef at Big City Tavern and executive chef at Voodka beforehand.

Together the team have composed a menu for next week's commemorative Cigar City dinner. In conjunction with d.b.a. owner Tom Moynihan and head server Olivier Robert, the Five Beers for Five Years dinner pairs five special release brews with unique dishes.

The first course matches a tangerine weisse and a creamy brie fondu with apple cider chutney, sabayon poached apricots, crispy prosciutto crostini, and citrus watercress salad. The margharita gose is paired with pina colada bay scallop ceviche, chili lime salted yuca chips, and honey citrus picked fresno chilis. Third is the Zealand Double IPA alongside chili braised pork butt croquettes with jalapeno and tomato salsa over greens with a tzatziki dressing. American Barley Wine is being served with beer and Chianti braised veal cheeks, brown butter, honey-coriander heirloom carrots, and seasonal greens. It culminates with an Imperial Cream Porter and honey-pancetta gelato with candied house bacon and a smoked peach and beet compote.

The cost to attend is $65.

The Cigar City dinner is the first of many. The team plans to host themed dinners monthly, with options ranging from beer-centric to wine and vintners to, even pick up where Bash American Bistro left off, with beer versus wine. (Robert can be credited for turning the now defunct Sunrise eatery into the craft beer haven it once was.)

See also: Bash American Bistro Shutters Its Doors

As for Harris, he's enthusiastic about his new post and jump up to executive chef.

"I'm humbled and excited," says Harris. "It kind of felt like the 8 Mile moment. It's great here; I can walk in and do whatever comes to mind."

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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