Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Spark Restaurant Lounge in Provo, UT

HEADS UP: You will want to scroll down through this post. Big time gift card voucher from Spark Restaurant Lounge. Print and use!

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from the owner of Spark Restaurant Lounge, Blake Ballard. Basically it said, "Let me feed you and some other cool Utah Valley bloggers and I'll show you how great my restaurant is and then please tell everyone you know about it." I had been to Spark before, but this time it was to be wined and dined and I am not going to turn that down.

I was asked to invite a guest, so with me I toted Ashley of Bird on the Lawn and Ashley Thalman Photography. At the restaurant, we were seated with Carina from Jet Set, the ever-funny Lisa Clark from the Thrillionaires and the Rookie Cookie-proclaimed Utah Valley ice cream whisperer, Lindsay Johnson of Cafe Johnsonia and her honey, Fred. I am so glad I was seated at the cool table. Great company to accompany great food.

The first course was a shrimp roll platter. They were divine. Probably my favorite thing of the whole night. Shrimp, jicama, cilantro, rice, tomato jalapeno salsa and guajillo paste. Such a great starter. It gave me a good idea of how the rest of the evening would go. Next came the meat and cheese platter. I thrilled Ashley and Carina with my disdain for cheese. More for them! Although I didn't partake, I can really appreciate that the chef chose mostly local cheeses. Next up was the BLT salad. What makes a BLT great? The tomato of course. And the tomato did not disappoint. In fact, one thing I noticed through out the night was that the produce was perfect and fresh.

Pan-roasted filet mignon with potato gallete, roquefort,
red wine demi-glaze and sauteed spinach
photo by Ashley Thalman Photography

After the BLT salad came the pan-roasted filet mignon with potato gallete and sauteed spinach. And bravo to Chef Romero for cooking all of the steaks to a perfect medium rare. Medium rare is the way a steak should be. One qualm with the dish, not enough of the demi-glaze!!! I need a little jug of that.

Basil crusted wild Alaskan halibut, Parmesan gnocchi,
heirloom toatomes, sweet peas with tomato consumme
photo by Ashley Thalman Photography

After the beef came the seafood. Wild Alaskan halibut with an awesome basil crust. I don't think I remember anything else about the dish besides the fish and the Parmesan gnocchi. It was exceptional. Everyone at the table kept talking about it. The gnocchi were delicious as is, but then they were sauted and had a crisp crust. Oy vey. I was thinking those gnocchi would be great in place of popcorn at the movies. I would happily pop those in my mouth one after another.

By the time I was done with the fish, I was spent. Thanks heavens for the intermezzo. But it wasn't long enough. Next came the passion fruit sorbet as a palate cleaner. The sorbet was the perfect amount of sweet and tart. I bent over to Lindsay and said, "You have got to figure this out!"

Vanilla panna cotta with kiwi pearls
photo by Ashley Thalman Photography

The evening was rounded out with two superb, well-thought out desserts. Banana strudel with house-made mango ice cream, strawberry coulis with a mango coconut foam. Tropical dessert paradise. And to leave us with a good taste in our mouths as we left, we ended with vanilla panna cotta with kiwi tapioca on top. Such a nice way to end the meal.

Kiwi martini
photo by Ashley Thalman Photography

Besides all of the delicious food, we had unlimited drinks from their non-alcoholic mocktail bar. And let me say, if they were alcoholic drinks we all would have been so sloshed. Out of all of the drinks I had, my favorite was the kiwi martini.

Chef Lauro Romero
photo by Ashley Thalman Photography

What is my analysis of the whole event? It went flawlessly. Each dish was consistently good. The ingredients used were the best available. In my opinion, I think Spark is way ahead of the game, maybe too ahead. I am not sure that Provo, Utah is quite there in terms of appreciating the chef's ideas and use of perfect ingredients. There are too many area restaurants that don't take pride in what they are putting on their plates. Spark does. I hope that the area catches up in terms of their expectations of their dining experience. I would love to see what Chef Romero has planned for the future.

On my drive home, I kept moaning about how full I was. But then I got home and crawled into bed and had dreams of shrimp rolls and panna cotta. And it was a delicious dream. Thank you Spark for having all of us bloggers there. It was such a treat and I will be back again soon.

If you haven't been to Spark, now is your chance. Below is a voucher of sorts. Dine at Spark Restaurant Lounge between the 8 and 11 of June. Bring the voucher and you will get a $25 gift card to use after June 12th. Spark expects June 8-11 the be hoppin', so be sure to call for a reservation (801-701-6780). As a note, I would advise you that this isn't a family restaurant. You will find a more mature crowd and no children. So make your visit a date with you and your honey.

Click on the voucher and then click print.


Anne said...

I've read oh so many posts about the blogger evening at Spark, but your review makes me want to by a ticket to Utah just so I can try it out! Yum!!

meg said...

Or ya'll could come to Sparks and I'll see if I can dig up a popsicle or some hummus. Spark. Sparks. Practically the same.

Ashley Thalman said...

I'll be your date ANYTIME! Oh and Meg, Whit and I agree that Sparks is even better because of your company.

Ingrid said...

Hey, I voted for you. You are also nominated for best eye candy blog, I voted for you. When do I get paid? Ha-ha! Good luck!

Btw, personally I think you could also be a contender for funniest blog too, but it's kinda at the expense of your boys. I read your post about the $7 pool and poor Jack face planting!

PheMom said...

I got to see Lindsey and meet Carina but I was so sad I didn't get to meet you! I was sitting at a table just across from you all with Quinn (Limelight Food) and her hubby, plus my sis-in-law. If I was more brave I should have just got up and gone around and introduced myself. I am glad you had a great time though! We loved it too!

Erin said...

I'm so jealous! I wish I lived closer to Provo! (This restaurant is relatively new, I am guessing? I lived in Orem two years ago and had never heard of it.)

R Schiffman (Brownbag) said...

Isn't it really being popped and dined since they won't serve wine? That certainly makes it a non-starter for me and those I know that like fine dining. OTOH, now that the chefs that cooked at the French Laundry, Gary Danko and Fifth Floor have moved on to create Forage and leave the former Bambara chef behind, I can eat the food that gave Spark such a buzz -- and drink wine with it. All the best to Spark, but it now has a harder row to hoe with Communal opening nearby.