|By Jane Bartnett|
Summer days are here. The crowds are slighter and everyone seems to amble a bit more slowly. It’s the perfect time of the year to try something new.
How about checking out some cuisines that aren’t traditionally on your radar screen? Vegan, for instance. If you haven’t tried it, you may be in for a happy surprise.
Ka Papa is an elegant new up-scale eatery on the Osprey Avenue corridor near Hillside Avenue that features locally sourced, plant-based vegan dishes crafted from fresh ingredients. All Ka Papa cuisine is made without any animal products. Diners enjoy a selection of both small- and large-plate dishes as well as soups and salads. A fine selection of wines and champagnes, beers, exotic mocktails and enticing desserts are also on the menu.
Large-plate dishes such as its Saffron Risotto Stuffed Tomato begin at $21. Small-plate offerings that include Spicy Endamame begin at $8.50.
When it comes time for dessert, the Fruit Tiramisu with house-made cream, raspberries, blueberries and cookie crumble soaked in fresh orange juice is sure to tempt you.
Open for dinner on Wednesdays through Sundays, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Ka Papa is owned by the mother/daughter duo of Bella and Kim. The name Ka Papa is Hawaiian for Papa’s. The two women chose it to honor the memory of their late husband and father.
Make a reservation by phone at (941) 600-8590 or visit kapapacuisine.com. The address is 1830 South Osprey Ave.
Continuing our vegan journey on a more casual note, there’s a bright new plant-based, gluten-free vegan eatery called Palmer’s Nutritious You that opened recently in the former home of the popular TooJay’s Deli in the Crossings at Siesta Key Mall (formerly Westfield Siesta Key).
Only a few doors away from Macy’s and the Esporta Gym, smoothie and juice fans will be delighted at what’s instore here. If you’re hungry, try one of the “meal” offerings that includes a Beyond Meat Burger, spring rolls, and protein balls.
If you have a sweet tooth, Palmer’s Nutritious You offers delicious gluten-free vegan bakery items. Dine in or take your treasures home to enjoy with the whole family.
A second location is on Siesta Key at 6583 Midnight Pass Rd.
The new store is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, at 3501 S. Tamiami Tr. Visit nutritiousyou.com.
While we’re talking about mixing up your usual dining out fare, how about spicing up your day with breakfast foods — even if it is mid-afternoon? Can’t you see that big stack of pancakes calling your name? After all, it’s 7 a.m. somewhere in the world.
The Dix Coney Cafe at 6525 Superior Ave. in Gulf Gate pays tribute to breakfast food, Michigan style. To drive that message home, there’s a big sign on the front of the building that announces that breakfast is served “anytime.” Its vibe is casual, all-American food, and to be fair its owners are also big fans of lunch food, too.
Hailing from Detroit, they report “We offer delicious breakfast and lunches along with Detroit-style Coney Island hot dogs with our famous Detroit Chili.”
A limited kids menu makes this place a great spot to bring the family. Dine inside or take it home with you. The full menu is online on Instagram or call Dix Coney Cafe at (941) 927-1672.
The Dix Coney Cafe is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Meanwhile, as spring turned into summer, two well-known area restaurants announced important changes.
The landmark Bijou Cafe, opposite the Sarasota Opera House on First Street and Pineapple Avenue, came under new ownership. The folks that own the neighboring Sage Restaurant are now directing the downtown Sarasota fine-dining spot.
Sage’s owners have pledged to honor Chef Jean Pierre “J.P.” Knagg’s menu and to maintain the Bijou Cafe’s iconic appeal. Known for its unique French- and South African-inspired cuisine, charming ambiance, and beautiful courtyard dining area, Bijou Cafe is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Call: (941) 366-8111 or visit bijoucafe.net
Last month, on June 19, fans of the White Buffalo Saloon, a popular South Sarasota country dance, music and nighttime casual dining spot at 5377 McIntosh Rd., said goodbye to the place that they’ve come to gather since 2013. But, according to news reports, the goodbye will give way to a welcome hello when the owners find a new home.
Calusa Brewing, a veteran-owned, south Sarasota-based craft brewery, will take over the space.