Spark Restaurant Lounge – Provo

Ultimately, I owe this review to Sposita; a few years back she  came out to visit us.  While here, she took Roni to Spark (or SP^RK if you go by the sign).  I was intrigued  by Roni’s description of the atmosphere, food and general vibe of the restaurant.  A trendy place?  that serves non-alcoholic mixed drinks? in Provo?

I knew we just had to go.  Last year, we purchased a gift card for Spark during their black friday special; all gift cards were 50% off.  This week we were able to use up the last of that gift card, and it was worth it.

In general, Spark is the kind of place you might expect to find in a larger city.  The inside is dark, with modern art on the walls, and lights hanging down at varying heights from the tall ceiling.  You almost suspect that the place doubles as a moody hangout for overwrought hipsters after a long day of reading Nietzsche and comparing ironic mustache tattoos.  But oddly enough, the decor seems to work with the restaurant as a whole.

Spark uses quality ingredients in its food and drinks.  This was especially evident in the dessert we ordered.  If you do go to spark, I recommend you splurge and get the amano chocolate mousse.  The mousse is made from locally produced chocolate and is smooth and rich.  Nicely complementing the richness of the chocolate was the homemade hazelnut ice-cream; it was wonderful and creamy.  Also included was a bruleed grapefruit.  This was perhaps the most surprising part of the dessert.  I would never have paired grapefruit with hazelnut ice cream or chocolate mouse, but all of the components worked together in harmony to please your palate.

Presentation is king at Spark.  If you want large portions of messy food slopped down on your plate (i’m looking at you Texas Roadhouse), then this is not the pace for you.  Each dish I’ve had has been thoughtfully presented with neatness and precision.  Don’t expect needless amounts of parsley on you dish here (I’m looking at you IHOP), everything on the plate is meant to contribute to the flavor of the dish.  My most recent dish serves to illustrate this point.  I ordered the  flat iron steak, with cranberry sauce, microgreens and potato croquette.  While each individual item was tasty in its own right, it was the combination of all the elements on the plate that really made the dish supreme.  The steak was tender and seasoned well, while the microgreens added a mild nuttiness which help to counterbalance the tartness of the cranberry sauce.  The croquette helped to add in some textural variety to the dish.  That being said, if you run out of one of the elements, the others may seem a bit bland.  While the croquette interesting with the steak and other sides, when it was alone, it was a bit bland.

The serving size is not going to be the same as if you went Cheesecake Factory.  Don’t expect to leave Spark on a gurney while you desperately try to use that belt-hole-punching attachment on your swiss army knife.  The servings are reasonable, and are designed for you to enjoy more than a single course.  If you’re not sure you want to drop $10-$15 a course quite yet, then I highly recommend the lunch special.  The special changes several time throughout the week (and is announced daily on twitter and facebook), but always includes three courses for $10.  The first course is a soup or salad, followed by an entrée and dessert.  Wait for a trio that sounds interesting and try spark.

Finally, a word on the drinks.  Sparks has non-alcoholic mixed drinks, but again, don’t expect mega-smoothies or chocolate shakes here.  The flavors are thoughtful and intriguing.  My personal favorite is the mango mojito, which has mango puree, mint and lime.  Roni usually favors the berry martini or kiwi martini to quench her thirst.  No free refills here, so sip your drink, don’t gulp it down!  With multiple courses, you may want to leave the kids at home for both financial and managerial reasons.  I’ve seen people bring younger kids, but it usually does not end well.  We’ve been known to bring an infant who can sleep through the meal, and that seems to work just fine.

Food Quality: 4
Taste: 4.5
Portion Size: 4
Service: 3.5
Overall Experience: 4
price (per course): $8-18

tl;dr:  Give it a try for some creative and flavorful food that is expertly presented.

Spark Restaurant Lounge
86 N University Ave
Provo, UT 84601

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