Cana Latin Kitchen features tapas, extensive drink menu

To some people, adding a restaurant to a recession is the perfect recipe for failure.

But to Cory Harwell, a guy who believes in selling when other people are buying and vice versa, it makes sense.

“Some friends said I was out of my mind,” says the owner of Cana Latin Kitchen and Bar. “To me, this is the best time” to start something new.

Harwell opened Cana three months ago in Town Square for dinner service. Business has been so good, he is already planning afternoon hours.

Cana is Harwell’s first restaurant, but it isn’t his first experience with the food business. He quit his job as food and beverage manager at New York-New York in 2008, with the plan to open not only a Latin-inspired spot but one based on his love of sugar cane libations.

Translated, Cana is the Spanish word for sugar cane, he says.

“The name stems from my love of sugar cane-based spirits and my love of the regions that have them,” he explains.

Cachaca, the national spirit of Brazil, is included on the menu as are the Colombian liquor aguardeiente and rum-based drinks. Cocktails have their own section on the menu.

The food also is Latin-inpired, with a menu consisting of 30 items representing countries such as Peru and Colombia. Everything is served tapas-style, or, as Harwell puts it, for nibbling and sharing.

Ceviche is another mainstay on the menu; Harwell serves several versions of it.

The restaurant, which seats 130, has a casual, open atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating available. Reservations are not required, but are recommended for large parties.

Specialties: Classic ceviche with halibut and habanero, $11; crispy shrimp with panca sauce, $13; duck and fig empanadas, $12

Small bites or bocadillos: Truffle chips with garlic, parmesan and parsley, $6; gazpacho, $6; habanero macaroni and cheese, $8; lamb chops, $15; Cuban slider, $11; chicken skewers, $8

Cocktails: Hemingway, with Bacardi Light Rum, grapefruit and cherry, $9; Ultimate Caipirinha, with leblon cashaca, Velvet Falernum, sugarcane and lime, $9

Dessert: Churros, $7; bread pudding, $8; Chocolate Kiss with mixed berry coulis, $9

Information: 722-6060

By SONYA PADGETT

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