DBA is no longer in contention for the worst restaurant in Fort Lauderdale award. Now Closed.
Open over a year now, DBA Cafe opened touting their NYC Chef, Steve Zobel; who could never get anyone to go to his previous gig at East Side Brasserie in the Atlantic Hotel. I went for lunch and had a bad sandwich; I didn't care for the decor. Zobel has since left the building and they no longer serve lunch. But they do serve brunch, and on my cheat day I figured I'd go and have some steak and eggs.
The place was about 1/4 full; They have a sign that tells you to wait to be seated, but there's no hostess. After a few minutes a dude comes over and tells me to sit anywhere.
Same old deal here with the bare wood tables with nothing on them; no setups, no sweeteners, no salt or pepper. A guy comes over and tells me the specials without the prices; mahi, wow, that's pretty special. I ask for coffee and look to make sure the menu is the same as they have on their website.
After a couple of minutes the dude comes back to tell me that they're making a fresh pot of coffee. I order the skirt steak and eggs; medium rare and over easy. He tells me that they don't have any beans; ok, I figure they'll give me some home fries or something else.
Ten minutes and no coffee. Nothing like sitting at an empty table at brunch with no coffee. Finally it comes up. No spoon; no sweeteners. The dude makes another trip. I ask for a napkin. Another trip and I have what I need.
DBA Cafe Coffee
Lousy coffee. Restaurant coffee always tastes lousy to me. I make it very strong at home.
This place is really a bar; a small room with more people sitting at the bar than at tables. And it's very loud. They do play good music: White Stripes, Gorillaz, Green Day. When I saw a runner carrying my food, you can imagine the horror.
DBA Cafe Brunch Skirt Steak
One burned egg cooked hard, about 5oz of steak over a mound of lumpy rice. And uncooked garbanzo beans? How did they fit in.>
I had a butter knife and no salt or pepper. Two more things to ask for.
I guess they were out of chimichurri sauce also; the steak had a little green stuff on it, but I expected a big steak and a big puddle of the sauce. The beans were cold, which added another dimension to the dish. No bread. Why is this $16? This is a joke. And with just 1 egg too. What does an egg cost, 14 cents?
DBA Cafe Brunch Skirt Steak
I couldn't eat the beans; my coffee cup was empty and there was no offer of a refill. I got my check and couldn't get out of there fast enough. What a disaster.
The truth is that this place has no flow at all to it; if you told me that they opened last week I'd fully believe it. There's a supermarket next door; what's the excuse for not having black beans? Were they hoping that nobody ordered it? This place isn't a restaurant; it's a storefront that serves food. No wonder the Floridian and Blondies crowd raves about it.
You shouldn't leave brunch hungry. This is the worst place I've been to in a long time.
The dba Cafe is an odd name for a restaurant; and the DBA Cafe is indeed an odd place.
They had a menu outside; there was a dude smoking right next to it so I held my breath while reading the printed page. My first impression was that the menu was weak; grilled cheese, BLT, schnitzel sandwiches. The dreaded "Market" fish at "Market Price" . Not the "Europeon Cuisine" I was hoping for. I almost didn't go in. But then a guy welcomed me and I figured I'd see what they had.
This place has transformed from the dumpy Asahi City 23 to the slick but short-lived Cafe Jamm to a rough urban look with exposed brick and bare wood. The place looks bigger that it did before, but it looks more like a bar than anything else.
DBA Cafe Interior
I like the bricks and the wood carving/sculpture, but I didn't like the bare wooden tables. There's something unsanitary about unfinished soft wood to me; you can't clean food stains from bare wood, which is one of the reasons we have stuff like formica and polyurethane.
In the afternoon the sun beats into the windows; they'll need shades or curtains at some point.
I ordered iced tea, and they had 'Pomegranate' iced tea; something fancy for the sake of being fancy. I also know that the ripped rag napkins are the latest "in" thing, but I don't like them.
DBA Cafe Pomegranate Iced Tea
The tea was ok, but i'd rather have freshly made Lipton, frankly.> I asked my server, who also was probably an owner or a manager, about the de jour and he told me about a root vegetable soup, an omelet and that the fish was tuna. He didn't tell me the price of the tuna, so I didn't consider it; and "root vegetables" is too vague to gain my interest. On the menu, all of the recipes had something I didn't like; 7 grain bread, arugula on the BLT, cranberry compote on the Schnitzel. So I went with the tomato and Mozzarella sandwich. Sandwiches come with french fries, I asked if I could get spinach and they were happy to comply.
They have wireless, but I got a Cisco splash screen requesting a password, so I switched to 3G. Music was low enough so I couldn't figure out what it was. One thing that I didn't like was I felt like they were watching me; the server guy was omnipresent. While waiting, I noticed a black board between where I was sitting and the bar which showed specials for the day. Great. It would have been good to be told about those, because they sounded better than the sandwich I settled for.
The sandwich came out with a good sized plate of spinach which was nicely sauteed with garlic and onions. It was a tad salty, but not too bad.
DBA Cafe Sauteed Spinach
I liked the spinach.
The sandwich really wasn't very good. They claim that the mozzarella was "house made"; if so they should consider buying some at Whole Foods next door. It was dry and didn't have any of the milky goodness of good mozzarella. The tomato was mushy; the way tomatoes get when you keep them in the refrigerator. There were some nice big basil leaves, but not much dressing. They called the bread "garlic" bread, but there was no garlicky taste at all. The sandwich sounded like it would be bursting with flavor, and it really had almost none at all. Completely uninspiring.
DBA Cafe Tomato Mozzarella Sandwich
There was also something black on the mozzarella; I pointed it out and they tried to convince me that they "char" the bread, but I wasn't sold, as there weren't any other char marks anywhere. I opted for safety and cut the piece off.
One suggestion I would give them is if they're going to give a menu on a crumpled piece of paper, why not print some out each morning with the specials and prices?
The chef here previously worked at the East End Brasserie; I don't usually talk about chefs until they've done something that impresses me. While the menu for dinner looks better than lunch, I could have made a better sandwich with scraps from my fridge. So I can't get excited about giving it another try anytime soon.