Like Burger Shoppe's Saeed Mohammed and Mustafa Yusuf, nearly all restaurateurs dream of pulling a Wolfgang Puck and franchising: today Roncesvalles, tomorrow the world! Booming breakfast bistro Boom Breakfast has taken its first step towards global domination with the launch of its first uptown outlet. Located on the Corso Italia (1036 St. Clair West, at Glenholme, 416-657-3447), the new room is a virtual carbon copy of the downtown hot spot.
"We'll keep opening them until we get it right," laughs owner Tony Cappellano.
Not only has Ginger (695 Yonge, at Charles, 416-966-2424) held its own at Yonge and Bloor against heavy-hitters Green Mango and Spring Rolls, spawning two thriving offshoots (Ginger 2, 403 Yonge, at Gerrard, 416-263-9999, Ginger 3, 546 Church, at Wellesley, 416-413-1053), but the family-run chain has expanded again.
Ginger 4 (252 Carlton, at Parliament, 416-923-7979) is already the biggest thing to hit Cabbagetown since sandblasting. The corner location in the heart of the historic nabe will become even more popular once summer comes and the inexpensive Vietnamese eatery's wall of glass opens to the street.
Over in the Annex, Ginger 5 (521 Bloor West, at Brunswick, 416-536-3131) goes head-to-head with Sushi 0n Bloor for the hungry student dollar.
Where some succeed, others fail. A year ago, acclaimed sushi-meister Mitsuhiro Kaji of Kaji Sushi (860 the Queensway, at Plastics, 416-252-2166) announced he was planning a number of mid-priced Japanese restaurants across the GTA.
His first joint venture, Scarborough's Le Café Michi (1802 Pharmacy, at Sheppard, 416-490-9688) garnered raves last spring and made NOW's year-end best o' resto list. Sadly, his plan to bring raw fish to the masses has proven less than fruitful, and Kaji has announced he is severing ties with the suburban seafood eatery to concentrate on his lakeshore outpost. Le Café Michi continues under the capable knife of new chef Toshi.
We scratched our heads last summer when Avtar Singh - the owner of Gandhi, Toronto's favourite roti resto - followed up his long-running Queen and Bathurst spot with Mother India (1456 Queen West, at Lansdowne, 416-588-4634), a South Asian sit-down restaurant that served everything but roti, on the same block as Bacchus and Ali's, two of the top contenders for the roti crown.
Not even a between-gigs Greg Couillard helping out in the kitchen could get this moribund spot off the ground. We predicted Mother would be dead by New Year's, but she didn't even hang in that long. Since then, Singh's had a rethink, and Mother has returned with an almost identical menu to Gandhi's, complete with roti.
I tried out both his famous butter chicken ($11.49) and mixed veggie roti ($6.95) the other day and can report they're just as terrific as the originals, nicely spiced and not mostly potato like elsewhere.
As a nod to sophistication, he's also bought a Buddha Bar CD and added a dimmer to the lighting system so that you can't make out much of the now-dark room's still fugly furniture and dollar-store tat. Smart move.