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Hot pocket.

Bless the little pocket restaurant that provides inexpensive breakfast and lunch solutions and does it fast enough so we can get back to work on time. These tiny treasures represent the best response to the fast food franchises that have all but ruined the way Americans enjoy (or don't enjoy) everyday no-frills foods.


My new favorite pocket eatery is Carr's Corner Cafe, an unassuming white-lattice corner fixture on the North Trail that caters primarily to the Ringling Museum neighborhood. It seats about 35 inside and a few more outside.

The food is simple and good, and word-of-mouth advertising among the regulars so effective that downtowners are zipping up the Trail to see what the buzz is about. It's about home cooking and considerate treatment.

The chef/owner is Sharon Carr, a North Trail native. Her mother, Juanita Sasser Carr, and maternal grandmother, Mildred Sasser, have owned (and periodically leased out) the cafe property for 40 years. Sharon lives two doors down from the business in a dwelling her mother resided in as a young girl. On the paternal side of the family, Sharon's grandfather, Charles Carr, ran the Ringling Hotel (the now demolished El Vernona that's part of the Ritz-Carlton property); and her dad, Thomas Carr, was in charge of the Viking Room at the old Azure Tide on Lido Beach.

"Grandmother Sasser taught me to cook," says Sharon, "and I've collected recipes over the years with the idea of having my own place. Probably our two most popular dishes are my South of the Border salad ($7.95) and the tofu wrap ($6.95). The chicken salad ($6.95) is a big hit, too. I learned to make it at age 12 from a cook at the Azure Tide, and it has a secret ingredient that I'll never divulge. Our Italian split pea soup is a customer's recipe, and my butternut squash bisque is a recipe I got from my aunt, Kathy."

The Bay Haven burger on a wholewheat bun is Sharon's tribute to the local elementary school where her parents met in second grade. The cafe is additionally locally famous for Sharon's quiches and her Reuben sandwiches. She pickles the corned beef herself.

The cafe's key lime pie recipe belongs to Juanita; it's been in the family for a half century. Sharon is the cook and 75-year-old Juanita is the baker for her daughter's establishment. Some years back, Juanita used to bake for Charlie Carr at his Sherwood Inn, a Robin--Hood--themed restaurant that once stood where the park across from the Sarasota Opera House is now.

At Carr's Corner Cafe, the conversation runs to local history and current events as well as up-to-the-minute food news, because Sharon Carr loves to scour the weekly Farmer's Market for enticing, fresh and intriguing ingredients. Some of her regulars eat both breakfast and lunch at Carr's every day, and they like to be surprised a couple times a week.


3025 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota


Breakfast and lunch: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.

Credit cards Parking in lot

Wheelchair accessible
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Title Annotation:food & wine
Author:Fottler, Marsha
Publication:Sarasota Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 2004
Previous Article:Ask Marsha.
Next Article:Chef central: Morel's Fredy Mayer and the perfect chicken recipe.

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