Natural Mediterranean Cuisine
1812 S. Osprey Ave. Sarasota FL 34239  Tel: 941-954-5400   Since 1987
Fandango Cafe reopens in Southside Village
Date: December 22, 2014by: Alex Mahadevan | Digital Editor
Fandango Cafe
Fandango Cafe, which was once one of Sarasota’s hottest dance joints, has come full circle.

Owner and chef Fred Salih reopened the restaurant in Southside Village two weeks ago after spending 10 years in semi-retirement, and more than 25 years after it originally debuted in the shopping district. Fandango spent more than a decade in Siesta Key Village before moving to the other end of the island in 2000.

The restaurant attracted a crop of loyal customers, some of whom have already returned to eat at the new site.

“It’s so unbelievable that I have to stop while I’m cooking to say ‘hello’,” Salih said.

While on Siesta, Fandango became one of the most popular local jazz clubs, but he said the lure of Southside Village - and the changes he saw in Siesta Key Village - led him to his current location.

“I checked out Siesta Key, but it was saturated - there’s no place to go,” Salih said. “It was not the right place for Fandango.”

Fandango Cafe joins Sam Snead’s American Grill as another eatery reopening in Southside Village, although Sam Snead’s has only been closed since June.

“I think the path we have is a good path,” said Eddie Morton, co-owner of the nearby Morton’s Gourmet Market, in a recent interview with the Sarasota Observer. “The main thing is keeping everybody vibrant and in business.”

Salih said he is currently planning a tribute concert for local jazz pianist Kenny Drew Jr., who died Aug. 3. Drew had always played a show to open a new Fandango location, and performed a farewell concert when a site closed.

Fandango held a soft opening Dec. 12, during the Southside Village Holiday Stroll.

“When I came into that area in 1987, it was not as coordinated as it is now,” Salih said. “It’s more organized, it’s more beautified, they have more events going on and very nice people live in this neighborhood.”
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Chef Talk: Fred Salih of Fandango Café
Chef Talk: Fred Salih of Fandango Café
By Abby Weingarten , Herald-Tribune 

/ Monday, January 11, 2016

Fred Salih of Fandango Cafe. Photo by Carissa Warfield.

Fred Salih, the chef/owner of Fandango Cafe (1812 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota. 954-5400; in Sarasota's Southside Village, has a sophisticated global palate that inspires his menu. A longtime traveler and cook with an early penchant for Persian cuisine, Salih was a food connoisseur before he became a restaurateur. Today, he is lauded for everything from Indonesian and Indian dishes to Mediterranean and Caribbean specialties.

Q: How did your upbringing affect your interest in food?

A: I grew up in a Persian Jewish family. Like most Jewish moms, it was my mom's dream that I would become an engineer. So I moved to New York to study and got a degree in mechanical engineering. But, being more of an artist and people person, life behind a desk in an office was not in my heart. I also traveled around the world a bit and experienced a variety of ethnic cuisines. Each time, if I liked a dish I ordered, I would go home and try to duplicate it. Then I would go back again and again until it was perfect.

Q: How did you transition from chef to restaurateur?

A: More and more, it was becoming clear that I needed to create an eatery that offered a variety of international dishes on one menu-a casual joint with an artistic vibe and fresh, healthy food. This became a reality in 1987. I moved down to Sarasota with my mom, brother and girlfriend, and opened the first Fandango, featuring Middle Eastern Mediterranean world fusion cuisine. Needless to say, my mom, Rouhi, was the original chef, and I worked as her assistant. The second Fandango opened a couple years later in Siesta Village, and the third one was on South Siesta Key. A year ago, I opened Fandango No. 4 and dedicated it to the memory of my mom.

Q: What have been some of the highlights of your culinary career?

A: I once cooked for the lead singer of R.E.M. and the martial artist/actor Steven Seagal. Also, having live jazz as a part of my restaurant, I had the pleasure of knowing some of the most internationally famous musicians such as Manfredo Fest, Kenny Drew Jr. and George Shearing.

Q: What can new patrons expect to find on the Fandango menu?

A: The current menu features a collection of dishes Sarasota loves. I have added some new Persian dishes and updated a few old ones to meet the times. Korma Sabzi, a Persian spinach lamb stew, is a new favorite. There is also Quinoabooli (tabouli salad with quinoa) and Indonesian pasta salad (pasta rings with peanut sauce served with crispy sesame chicken), not to mention the best hummus falafel on the planet.

Q: Outside of work, how do you spend your time?

A: In bed. This is still a new restaurant, which demands all of my attention. I am proud to be a hands-on chef/owner.


? pound fresh baby spinach
? pound fresh kale leaves
1 bunch fresh parsley
2 bunches fresh scallions
12 ounces fresh dill
6 eggs
3 medium onions, diced small
2 ounces turmeric
2 ounces coriander seeds
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onions, turmeric, salt and pepper, and cook on very low heat until the onion is translucent. Put the mixture aside to cool. Rough chop the spinach, kale, parsley, dill and chives, and put them in the food processor. Add the eggs, coriander seeds and cooked onions, and fully blend. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a dish with olive oil, add the mixture, cover with aluminum foil and place it in the oven. Remove the cover once the mixture has set and is not runny in the middle. Keep checking every 5 minutes until the dish is fully cooked and the color turns dark green. Remove the dish and let it cool for 35 minutes. Serve with tzatziki sauce and pita bread.