Glow burns bright after fire

[attach]942[/attach]Rose Reisman is eating my appetizer.

She’s asked our server for a spoon and she’s going for it, dipping it right in to my Toasted Pumpkin with Chicken and Mango Salsa soup.

But Rose isn’t being saucy (or soupy for that matter): for the record she asked me if she could try some. Heck, if Rose wanted to snatch up that bowl and down the whole thing I’d let her. I am, after all, getting a free lunch as I help her celebrate the reopening of her latest project, Glow Fresh Grill & Wine Bar, at the Shops at Don Mills. And I’m having a great time chatting and noshing with one of Toronto’s pre-eminent wellness experts.

It’s a couple days before Halloween and the resto’s been open just 10 days. It does seem odd celebrating the rebirth of Glow given that it officially opened in July. But alas, the dining spot was literally set a-glow by a blaze caused by a heater only a few days after the summer launch. It’s undergone extensive renovations due to the smoke damage, and now it’s risen from the ashes, so to speak.

Rose approves of the soup but sends back my Tomato and Asparagus Stack salad, as it’s missing the balsamic drip over top.
I appreciate that nod to perfectionism.

The hardest thing about the fire, Rose tells me as we munch away, was losing the momentum that was building before it happened. They were serving 400 people a day and there were the usual kinks as the resto found its feet, she says. Just as they were groovin’, disaster struck.

No glitches during our two-hour lunch, I’m happy to report, save for the missing balsamic. While I dig into my newly dripped tomato and asparagus stack, which is layered like a sandwich with grilled red onion, goat cheese and toasted pine nuts, Rose sinks in to an Ahi Tuna Avocado and Mango salad and tells me about her partnership with Peter Higley, owner of Glow.

They met five years ago when she produced a healthy menu for the Pickle Barrel Restaurants, which Higley runs. Rose did such a great job, she developed and tested menu options for Glow, also consulting on other elements such as décor.

Rose describes the food at Glow as healthy and balanced. In case you’re wondering, the restaurant’s handle refers in part to the healthy glow you get when you’re eating right.

My thighs like the fact that there’s no cream or butter in my soup. Two percent evaporated milk, and one cup of Yukon Gold potatoes for every cup of stock, are some of Rose’s secrets for achieving a creamy yet low-fat consistency.

The resto is probably one of the few in North America that doesn’t have a deep fryer, she tells me. One customer, who brought in two rather corpulent children and demanded French fries, Rose recalls, actually walked out because the coveted frites could not be had.

That experience was shocking, she says, but we learn from our server that the lady came back. Maybe the baked fries got to her.

Rose is a busy gal. In between running her catering and personal chef businesses, the kitchen for which is around the corner, Rose also pens a column for various publications.

She’s just finishing the edits on her 19th cookbook, does work with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, and is lining up a new radio gig.

All that and she still finds time to dine at Glow a few times a week to offer feedback to the staff on an ongoing basis.

Sure hope to have this much pluck in my 50s.

As we plow our way through several Mini Indulgences desserts — essentially dessert shooters filled with delectable low fat concoctions like rocky road cheesecake and three-layered chocolate mousse, I stare dreamily at the cloud-like installations hovering over the dining area, which feature softly illuminated icicle-like lights.

Meanwhile, the ceiling changes colour from a luminescent pink to green, reflecting off the beautiful green glass sculpture garden called Mille Fiori (a thousand flowers) by world-renowned studio glass artist, Dale Chihuly — which thankfully was saved from melting in the fire by one thick brick wall.

The place really does glow as I bask in the afterglow of my yummy and completely satisfying lunch.

Must bring the man back so we can nosh and nibble as we watch people skating on the soon-to-be-built rink outside.

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