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BEHIND THE SCENES / ORANGE COUNTY

Thank 'Cue, Dad

June 19, 1997

It was Father's Day, and at Habana Restaurant in Costa Mesa--inside the Lab, the hub for Gen Xers--a few hundred people of all ages turned up to salute dear old Dad.

The eatery's chefs got everybody within range into a barbecue mood by dragging 6-foot grills out to the patio, lighting up mesquite wood and shamelessly fanning the smoke into the outdoor mall.

It worked, says maitre d' Brian Dobbin. What the walk-ins found on the grill were 2-pound lobsters and 10-ounce steaks. And for more traditional dads, there was something very familiar.

"Good old macaroni and cheese--in fact, three cheeses from one of the chef's mom's recipes," Dobbin says.

Then there was dessert--Cafe Cubana, a chocolate cup stuffed with flourless chocolate brownies and a chocolate ganache filling and topped with a cappuccino chocolate mousse.

But the best thing, says Dobbin, was that Dad had all these good eats without having to stoke the coals or clean up afterward.

"Everyone does something special for Mother's Day," he says. "But Dad's kind of relegated to flipping the burgers on his day. It was nice for [fathers] to sit with their families rather than rushing around."

Dobbin was also pleasantly surprised by the folks who turned up.

"We didn't know who would come, but it was a mix. Some groups were two and three generations strong--from babies to grandpas . . . Everybody loves barbecue."

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