You have to admit, it’s an attention-getter. Not every day do you encounter what appears to be a mango wearing sunglasses enjoying a cup of java while swinging in a hammock suspended between two palm trees on an island that’s a fried egg — sunny side up. No, you are not seeing things. Meet “Toasty,” Sarasota’s brand character in the genre of the Pillsbury Dough Boy or the Jolly Green Giant.
Toasty is the creation of Kimberly Duffy and Sandi Wagner, owners of the Toasted Mango Café, a breakfast-and-lunch spot that opened two months ago in the small strip center on North Tamiami Trail at Fifth Street in the space formerly occupied (twice, in fact) by Etrusco. The duo discovered the space was for rent while commuting to their former jobs at the Blue Dolphin Café on St. Armands Circle. Its availability inspired them to start their own venture.
Duffy and Wagner have conceived pretty much every aspect of their new spot. The name is intended to convey “tropical” and “breakfast.” They dreamed up Toasty while walking the Ringling Bridge one day and got Sarasota artist Michael Blunt to draw him. They designed the interiors themselves, as well, and persuaded friend and customer Mary Lou Johnson to display her artful photographs.
The owners identify themselves on their shared business card as “proprietors/servers,” which says a lot. Two people on one card communicates “team” as much as cost conscious. And they are clearly placing a great deal of emphasis on service. The two “40-somethings” (how they describe themselves) have been serving customers in restaurants for 25 years. They feel it’s important for customers to know they are present as owners, and Wagner says it’s also important “to see what comes out of the kitchen and what comes in the door.”
What comes out of the kitchen is a nice selection of daytime favorites, several featuring the eponymous fruit. Breakfast options include a waffle topped with chopped mango and mango butter, mango muffins and a breakfast banana split. At lunch, there is gazpacho and a roasted turkey mango wrap, among other options. They expect their signature dish to be the Toasted Mango Blackened Chicken Salad, which includes fresh mango. There is even a three-bean mango salad. The kitchen is the domain of Carlos Moran, and the owners recruit their kids to help out on weekends.
Of course, there are abundant non-mango options as well. One friend deemed the blueberry pancakes “awesome.” And tourist friends who had eggs for breakfast there last week said everything was exceptionally fresh and delicious.
The café is sunny and bright, like the food. It serves breakfast and lunch all day, every day. There is an outside full-service patio for doggie dining. The lot in front is small, but there is plenty of parking on both sides of Fifth Street. You could say the whole experience is sunny side up.
BREAKFAST BANANA SPLIT ‘TOASTED MANGO’
Start to finish: 5 minutes
1 medium-size banana
1/2 cup strawberry low-fat yogurt (or any flavor you prefer)
1/4 cup crunchy granola or one crumbled granola bar (any flavor)
1/4 cup fresh chopped mango or pineapple
1/8 cup fresh blueberries
4 large strawberries
In a banana “boat” or a kitchen bowl, slice the banana in half the long way and place on either side of the bowl. Put yogurt in the middle, top with granola, add mango or pineapple on top, then add the blueberries on top of that. Remove the strawberry stem, slice in half and arrange at either end.
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