If location is the key to success in the resto biz, Bridgette Pinder has it made. With a primo spot at the nation's financial crossroads, her city-sanctioned sidewalk food cart at King and Bay must be raking in the bucks.
"Not really," laughs the enterprising Pinder. "Everybody stays underground in the food courts."
Those who do venture outside the PATH discover the best meal deal in the downtown core, Pinder's $5 jerk chicken wrap. As you'd guess from a name like Caribfusion, the former Fred Victor Mission chef's spin on island cooking is a contemporary one. Instead of industrial-strength, her chicken is gently jerked boneless breast. Wraps are whole wheat pitas. They're dressed with two salads - crisp romaine, carrot and purple cabbage as well as ripe mango and red bell pepper strips in a sweet-heat Thai vinaigrette - and two sauces, one tangy barbecue, the other lethally hot.
Compact curried chicken dal poori rotis are available daily, curried beef Tuesday and Wednesday. Friday means oxtail with rice, pigeon peas and mango salad (all $7 tax-inclusive). Skewers of grilled pineapple go for a toonie.
Pinder started A La Cart last summer at St. Clair and Yonge before winning the coveted Bay Street spot. Is the program working?
"I'm glad there's diversity on the streets of Toronto, but there needs to be way more," says Pinder. "The city hasn't given us the exposure we're due. You go to Dundas Square and there's a permanent building selling hot dogs, but where's A La Cart?"