Monday, September 5, 2011

sparkroot lunch

This is a shot of my recent lunch at Sparkroot Coffee Bar + Fare ( As I mentioned in earlier posts, the first two times I went to Sparkroot, I was almost overwhelmed by all the "eye candy" in the two-story space that overlooks Congress and Fifth. From the view East, I see the Rialto Theatre and cars pass by with regularity in the a.m. and early afternoon. That location and view give Sparkroot a sense of being in energetic movement and the decor of Sparkroot enhances the feeling.

A bicycle hangs by the South facing door; a mural of a motorcylist is on the East wall. Retro touches include a "jukebox", a waste can with a vintage sign that says "THINK", a bamboo tree growing from the first floor with natural rocks encircling its base, 1950s circa college chairs (I think my College of Education at the UA still has some scattered around in Research Assistants' offices) set by narrow wooden name just a few of the objects du jour that pop open my eyes as much as the Blue Bottle coffee may do. Even the unisex restrooms have photos or 33 rpm records as eyespots while you take a break from the luscious teas (I had both lemon souffle and mint, served in mason jars) or coffee. Sparkroot is a name the owner, Ari, made up and by the counter, in the floor, are roasted and unroasted coffee beans under glass along with an "aerial shot" of coffee bubbling in an oversized coffee cup. I felt like I wanted to tap dance on the glass just to see if the coffee beans moved, but I didn't give it a try.

The menu is still a work in progress and it's fun to watch the cook at the counter prepare meals which I would describe as artisan and artful. My breakfast trip was light with granola with walnuts and pecans. The lunch pressed sandwich which you see in the photo is of fresh bread (from The Bake House), spinach, chevre cheese and artichokes. The bread was crunchy but smooth in texture and the overall taste of the elements were light to taste but filling. My husband, who took the photo, also had a pressed sandwich with welsh chedder and English cucumber. He described it to me as "chewy and full-bodied." A pickle comes as garnish with the sandwiches.

The eating atmosphere is pleasant and not rushed. Having sat both upstairs and downstairs, I would recommend either for conversation and/or people watching--but upstairs I definitely got more of the sense of the urban traffic outside. At night, with the lights from cars and the streets, I would expect the scene to be urban cool--but I haven't tried it yet at night so I will let you know when I do. My husband, who works in the safety field, answered my question about the exposed beams: "they have foam sprayed fire proofing", he told me. A good thing to know if you are worried about safety but to a person such as I am who is more interested in visual design than safety, the gray foam made an interesting textural contrast with the airplane propeller-like fan that shines as it spins from the high ceiling.

Each time I go in (and I will again, as they expand their menu to include, I hope, a morning frittata), I find something new to both eat, drink and/or look at--so Sparkroot works for me as a place to both "spark" my day (or night, for the evening guests) and "root" myself in the downtown Tucson scene.

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