Restaurateur/chef Rod Bowers 's obsession with movie great Orson Welles continues with the imminent opening of Citizen . Located in the long-gone Riverside Café on Queen East at Broadview, the east side's newest eatery is scheduled to open mid-June. That's an awfully quick turnaround. Could a certain TV restaurant makeover team be involved?
"Where did you hear that?" asks a clearly startled Bowers (of Queen West's hugely popular Rosebud ), who adds that he's been sworn to secrecy as part of the deal.
To quote Van Halen's David Lee Roth, it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure that one out, especially since a crew of carpenters in black T-shirts emblazoned "Restaurant Makeover" and the show's chef, Lynn Crawford , have recently been spotted on the sidewalk in front of the shuttered resto.
"I worked with Lynn at the Four Seasons for a year and a half. We hang out, we're buddies," says Bowers, explaining the coincidence.
We've also heard that Citizen - not to be confused with nearby Comrade - will be Italian.
"Italian with an Asian influence. It's not really that big a departure," says Bowers, also noting that he's hired Klaus Rorick , his former sous at Mistura, to head the kitchen. And if two restaurants aren't enough on his plate, Bowers has also gone and gotten himself engaged.
"Sometimes you just have to go for it."
Not to be outdone, Dhaba (309 King West, at John, 416-740-6622) has also undergone the Restaurant Makeover treatment. Although there certainly wasn't anything wrong with owner/chef P.K. Singh Ahluwalia 's incendiary north Indian card, the second-storey room was desperately in need of an upgrade.
Approached by the producers to appear on the highly rated Food Network reality show, Ahluwalia was surprised to find that the designer assigned to make over his Subcontinental boîte was Brenda Bent , the talented wife of one Susur Lee.
"After NOW discovered me out in Etobicoke, Susur and Brenda used to bring their family all the time," says Ahluwalia. "At our first meeting, I jokingly suggested to Brenda that we get Susur in to help. A couple of days later, the producers told me that Susur had come on board. I was in shock but also hugely flattered. He's one of the best chefs in the world!"
Did the legendary perfectionist make any culinary changes?
"None at all," says the ever-affable Ahluwalia. "But he did plate things differently. He likes to pile things up."
Watch for the Citizen and Dhaba episodes to air this fall.
Changes at Karuchie
When we first visited Chris Thorn 's Karuchie (924 College, at Dovercourt, 416-850-1729) in early April, our computerized bill was numbered #134, meaning that in the two months it had been open, the west-side bistro had only been averaging three tables a night.
Since then, Thorn's received across-the-board raves - the first in NOW, of course - and his previously near-empty resto is booked to capacity. Sadly, since then, both his personable manager, Michelle Dellaire , and his talented sous and pastry chef, Shelby Brown , have jumped ship, apparently over money. Despite the loss, my spies tell me a recent dinner there was just as impressive as before.
"You just do the best you can," sighs Thorn, who not unexpectedly has been deluged with resumés.