Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Cross the Border for Canta Rana

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Cross the Border for Canta Rana

Article excerpt

For a long time Fruitville Road marked the northern border of downtown dining in Sarasota, but in the last five years restaurants have begun to cross that line. The latest is Canta Rana, a new Peruvian restaurant that has opened on the corner of Fruitville and Osprey Avenue, next to The Breakfast House.With its engaging looks, wide-ranging menu and very reasonable prices, Canta Rana gives folks another good reason to cross the border.This area, called Gillespie Village, has been undergoing gradual gentrification, and Canta Rana has settled into an attractively restored cottage. On the Osprey side a large shell-covered lot provides parking, and a ramp smelling of fresh wood runs up the side of the building and turns to the front entrance. A sign with a depiction of a jolly green frog in full-throated action reminds us that Canta Rana means "singing frog." Inside, the arrangement balances a stylish modernity with comfort. New, light-colored hardwood floors give a sleek look, one emphasized by the color scheme, which consists of main walls painted a deep red with accent walls painted green and black. Black tablecloths complete the sophisticated look.Adding to Sarasota's already rich selection of Peruvian cooking, Canta Rana describes itself as Peruvian fusion cooking, and lives up to that billing with its many dishes building on the cuisines of other lands.Diners can find such examples as the Chinese-inspired Arroz Chaufa ($11.99 - $13.99), better known as fried rice; a variation on Puerto Rican mofongo, Mofongo con Camarones al Aijillo ($14.99), which mixes shrimp and garlic into mashed plantains; a Paella Canta Rana ($28.99 for two), based on the famous Spanish dish; and, most intriguing to me, a dramatic twist on an Italian classic, Lasagna de Quinoa ($14.99), with the Peruvian grain standing in for the traditional noodle.As inviting as some of these fusion blends sounded, we decided to stick largely with Peruvian dishes. For appetizers, that brought us to an Ocopo ($6.99) and a Tamalito Verde ($5.99). The ocopo is a potato dish bathed in a vivid green sauce whose prime ingredient is huacatay, known as black mint. …

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