A warm Glow

Restaurant nearly perfect says reviewer

I don’t think I’ve ever found myself in this situation, but this month’s review might be boring.

Dinner at Glow is pretty nearly perfect. We have the server every restaurant owner dreams about — friendly, full of ideas, knowledgeable — and the meal every customer craves.

At the outset, our waiter explains Glow’s ethos: healthy, fresh food in a menu designed by Rose Reisman.

And with his approval, we begin with glasses of Valpolicella Ripasso from the Cantine Delibori vineyards ($10.50).

It’s a lovely, “big” wine with a beautiful, full bouquet. But it’s the serving of it that’s fun. From the wine bottle, the waiter ceremoniously decants 5 ounces into a small flask. He then pours it into Reidel O glasses — their new stemless line.

Nothing like making a ceremony of a small thing.

While we await our starters, we enjoy the next ceremony. We’re presented with a delightful little construction of toasted multigrain raisin baguette slices and grilled pita wedges along with a tray of three small toppings: sundried tomato hummus, a spinach mousse and caramelized onion cream. Swearing I won’t eat more than one and spoil my dinner, I manage to make inroads into all three.
My guest orders an appetizer of three different satays with a pair of dipping sauces ($16). Three skewers — calamari and shrimp, beef, and chicken — are accompanied by sauces: a dark soya-based style sauce and a ground peanut paste. These suit the flavours perfectly. My guest comments on how beautifully each one is grilled. “Even the calamari isn’t overdone.”

My own choice: a warm wild mushroom salad on a bed of baby arugula topped with generous shavings of excellent parmesan ($12). I find big shiitake heads and small flutes of oyster mushrooms, all in a light balsamic dressing designed not to overpower the delicate taste. The waiter suggests extra plates so we can share our appetizers.

My guest’s main course, Thai seafood stew, proves to be a large bowl of rice noodles topped with a gorgeous red curry swimming with shrimp, scallops, calamari and mussels ($19).

“Every time I dig into the bottom of the bowl (and it’s a large bowl), I come up with some more seafood,” he says.

My Asian black cod has been steamed in a black bean sauce and topped with curls of pickled ginger ($28). It comes atop a mound of stir-fried Asian vegetables (boy choy, tiny enoki mushrooms and onions) and Aztec rice — a wonderful red rice cooked to creaminess in rich broth. The cod is cooked to a turn; fat, delicate flakes of fish fall off my fork. The flavours harmonize beautifully with the little bit of zing from the pickled ginger adding a fresh note every so often.

We’re full but when the waiter brings eight pretty miniature desserts in shot glasses ($3 each), we relent. It’s tapas-style dessert and impossible to resist, so we opt to try two little tasters apiece. After all, our waiter points out, these are just 120 to 160 calories each. I choose key lime pie and the waiter’s second favourite (he’s very helpful indeed) — caramel crunch cheesecake. My guest selects three chocolate (white, dark and milk) mousse and traditional New York cheesecake spread with a berry glaze. A tiny spoon accompanies these. I find them very sweet, though each is truly just three bites — just enough to sweeten the palate and leave a last happy taste in the mouth.

We both request decaf coffee ($3 each). A really good and — hooray! — really hot brew arrives with little jugs of both cream and milk.

There’s only one wrong note when it comes to food. There is a cheese plate but when I ask what the cheeses are, I’m told the usual “sharp cheddar, brie, camembert, and I think, a blue.” When are restaurants going to realize that knowledge about the cheese plate is as important as knowledge about the dessert selections (which our waiter rattled off with ease)?

Glow is a real find. Its name refers to the glow of good health, but the interior exudes a warm glow of coloured lighting hidden behind a remarkable series of swooping wave panels on the ceiling. And I love the bright green art glass installation by Dale Chihuly. But can anyone tell me why this lovely, upscale restaurant finds it necessary to have a TV screen in the bar area? From my comfortable leather bound booth, I see it flickering just within my line of sight — Monday Night Football, the perfect accompaniment to a fine dinner.

Nonetheless, this is a beautiful spot in an area that is rapidly gaining a name for fantastic restaurants.

Glow, 7 Marie Labatte Rd. (in The Shops at Don Mills). 416-384-1133. Great online reservation system at www.glowfreshgrill.ca.

About this article:

By: Liz Campbell
Posted: Jan 24 2011 12:25 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto