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Dining scene: From Irish-inspired to cheesy

What's happening in food and dining around South Florida.

Dubliner Irish Pub

210 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale, 954-523-1213,

After eight years of bringing live music and plenty of Guinness to Mizner Park in Boca Raton, Dubliner's owners are launching the same concept this month in the old Himmarshee Bar & Grille, which briefly evolved as PL8 Kitchen.

"We really focus on using the best available Irish-inspired ingredients," says co-owner Scott Frielich. "We wanted to shed the image of Irish pub fare and really show our guests that they can get a five-star meal in a casual pub atmosphere. Our executive chef Greg Schiff has worked closely with managing partner Sean McGrade, using many of McGrade's grandmother's Belfast recipes."

Signatures include curried beef soup ($5), fondue blended with Harp lager ($12.50), Irish lamb burger ($11.50), Irish salmon and trout ($14-$18), flat bread of the day from the wood-burning oven (prices vary) and Guinness McMac and cheese ($6, appetizer; $10 entree).

The theme extends to the decor of reclaimed wood, quotes from famous Dubliners, a wall of international whiskeys, murals of famous Irish writers, and an upstairs Irish library with books and board games. Seating on the sidewalk and second-floor balcony is available.

The Dubliner serves lunch and dinner daily. The kitchen stays open until 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday and until 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. Entertainment will feature live rock, Irish or folk music five nights a week, plus trivia nights and occasional comedy or karaoke.


235 Commercial Blvd., #105, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, 954-533-2580,

Anthony Sindaco, chef and partner at the 30-seat contemporary seafood restaurant, has debuted an Italian cafe-style lunch from noon to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Until now, it was a dinner-only operation

"Most everything I cook Italian is from my memories and cooking with my grandmother, Ara," Sindaco says. "I spent a lot of time with Ara making fresh pasta, marinara, meatballs, Bolognese, artichokes and everything Italian. . . . But what I loved the most were her meatballs. Sunday morning before church, her whole house smelled like Sunday sauce."

So, pork-and-beef meatballs grace the menu as an appetizer ($6) and with spaghetti ($11). And beef Bolognese is there too, along with other pastas such as lasagna della casa and linguine with red or white clam sauce (all $11). Soup or salad accompany main plates, including sandwiches such as seared mahi ($15) and panini of the day ($10). Daily specials, such as New England lobster roll and crab-cake sandwich, offer surprises.

Karma Sushi Steakbar

346 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, 561-361-3999,

This edgy spot with plush booths and a dramatic LED wall in the core of Mizner Park has made a host of changes after only four months of opening.

At the forefront: sushi.

"We have had to hire three additional sushi chefs to keep up with the demand," says co-owner Ruti Bell. "Many of our customers are ordering a sushi roll or two as appetizers and then a full steak dinner. They seem to love the combination."

Leading the team is head sushi chef Sebastian Rojas, who hails from Chile. He has quadrupled the sushi selections and added sashimi. The rear bar was converted to an 11-seat sushi counter along with four mini booths to watch him work.

Standouts are the two-in-one Karma dream roll with shrimp tempura, tuna, veggies and cream cheese with one half topped with salmon, wasabi cream and spicy mayo and the other half crowned with tuna, kimchi, sesame seeds and scallions ($19). The riceless underwater roll is also inventive with square-shaped rice papers cradling spicy tuna, lump crab, kimchi, truffle oil and pomegranate reduction ($16).

But sushi is not the only new component to the consistently executed lineup. Fettuccine lemon chicken and steak house salad (both $18) are favorites among the nearly dozen new choices. The miso-maple glaze on the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with gorgonzola ($9) lends extra depth compared to most renditions.

New promotions are In the Biz on Mondays; free cocktail and valet parking with dinner purchase Tuesdays; free valet parking and half-off sushi rolls, cocktails and bottles for ladies Wednesdays; free sushi samples from 7 to 8 p.m. and half-off cocktails all night Thursdays, both at the bar; and free house sake with sushi purchase from 6 to 8 p.m. Sundays.

Cheesecake Factory

Multiple locations,

This uber-popular chain recently rolled out its latest biannual changes on its global menu.

The Cajun burger and Mexican City chicken may be gone, but now you can try Parmesan polenta fries, crispy on the outside and creamy inside ($5.95) or warm asparagus salad with roasted tomatoes and pine nuts, topped with a sunny-side up egg ($6.95).

"One of the dishes that I am particularly proud of is our new chile roja beef," says Bob Okura, vice president of culinary development and corporate executive chef. "It is a classic Latin dish filled with deliciously rich, spicy flavors. It requires a very long and delicate cooking process."

This dish is simmered with peppers and onions and served with cilantro rice, black beans and corn tortillas ($16.95).

Low-calorie Skinnylicious additions are beef soft tacos with escabeche vegetable salad ($12.95) and pasta ragu ($10.95). Chicken and biscuits have returned with sweeter biscuits and a richer sauce of pan gravy ($16.50). You also may find Thai-glaze salmon in a tamarind coconut cashew sauce ($19.95) among the daily fish specials.

Take a last sip with dulce de leche hot chocolate ($4.95).

Email news to or send to John Tanasychuk, Sun Sentinel, 500 E. Broward Blvd., Suite 900, 9th floor, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33394.

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