Himmarshee Bar & Grille

FORT LAUDERDALE: Owner Dave Nicholas with pork belly, watermelon, green apple and peanuts.
FORT LAUDERDALE: Owner Dave Nicholas with pork belly, watermelon, green apple and peanuts. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Fourteen may seem young for a facelift, but the owner of Himmarshee Bar & Grille decided the popular Fort Lauderdale restaurant needed a visual boost, so this summer he will spruce it up with new paint, furniture and fabrics. A wood-burning oven will be installed, and the small kitchen will gain “capability,” says Dave Nicholas, owner since 2005. Chef Chris Miracolo, who helped open the restaurant and returned in 2009, recently left. At the helm now is chef Phil Bryant, who has cooked with Norman Van Aken for the past five years, as Himmarshee moves to a trendier, farm-to-table concept. The menu changes often, but popular staples remain, though in slightly different form. The restaurant now gets produce from Loxahatchee’s Swank Farms.

Ambience: Open since 1997, Himmarshee has long been a hot pre- and post-show hangout for the nearby Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and with good reason. It’s an upscale culinary refuge on a street packed with party-hearty bars. With seating for 65 inside and 45 outside, it’s the kind of place you can bring the kids, the college students and grandma. (Just try to arrive before the music cranks up at the adjacent Side Bar.)

What Worked

  • The Neighborhood Salad – marinated beets, walnuts, Gorgonzola and fig vinaigrette
  • Butter leaf salad with small goat cheese croquettes, slivers of apple and roasted red peppers in a perky sour cherry and herb vinaigrette
  • Crisp, cool and light pan-seared pork belly morsels in a stack with lightly grilled watermelon
  • Butternut squash purses – fragrant of cinnamon and fashioned from house-made pasta
  • Tasty grilled chicken wings served with a guava-chile glaze, a jicama slaw and blue cheese sauce
  • A simple, well-seasoned grilled chicken served with risotto
  • Succulent and perfectly seared fennel-dusted diver scallops plated with a hearty butternut squash risotto, duck confit, sweet peas and roasted mushrooms
  • Lightly pan-seared, herb-crusted mackerel accompanied by winter bean cassoulet, poached tomatoes and arugula
  • Ultra creamy mac and cheese served with smoked gouda and bits of ham
  •  An espresso crème brülée
  • Chocolate cake
  • Nice & moist apple cake served with scrumptious cinnamon ice cream
  • A thoughtful wine list of about 100 choices, 50 of them by the glass

What Didn’t Work

  • Too-sweet and somewhat bland steak flatbread with grilled steak, chopped broccolini, caramelized onion, mushrooms, cambozola (like a mix of brie and Gorgonzola) and tomato-jalapeño relish