Situated in the southwest corner of the Valley is strangely incongruent new restaurant the Sparklings. It’s becoming a locals’ favorite, but unless you frequent the Windmill and Rainbow area, you’re probably unaware.
The self-proclaimed “barstaurant” is housed in a typical office/retail center and looks suspiciously similar to the adjacent Lodge at Shelbourne. But a cleanly designed space awaits within, where chandeliers abound (inspiring the name, apparently) and the seating area is lined with China cabinets filled with bric-a-brac (like dining at Grandma’s house if she were an old-timey movie starlet). With a soundtrack to match the surroundings—a haunting, strings-only rendition of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” segues to Sinatra—the Sparklings offers a rather unique experience.
The menu is interesting, too, and decidedly affordable, though it can be a bit confusing. Take the bacon and date-wrapped meatball ($7), which is not a single meatball but rather a quartet. Each is sandwiched inside a sliced date and lashed together with a bacon weave that overwhelms the fruit. While its sweet undertones poke through, I found myself asking where the date actually was. Though accompanying marinara is merely passable, you can hardly go wrong with the trio of smoke, sweet and meat.
Equally confusing is a dish of diver scallops that arrives with unannounced scallop-shaped arancini. The menu description is completely silent on these hidden gems, unfortunate since, as good as the mollusks are in their bright citric buerre blanc, the arancini are even better.
The crispy gnocchi ($7.50) are, thankfully, described accurately, a combination of Italian sausage, peas and candied walnuts in a well-balanced pesto with a flurry of textures and flavors. And while I’d prefer more prominent lobster flavor, the langosta bruschetta ($6) offers up appetizing bites with a mild cream cheese-and-crustacean spread on toast points.
Entrée-wise, spaghetti with mushroom and bacon cream sauce ($11) is exactly what you’d expect, underlying smokiness interwoven with thick creaminess that’s even better as leftovers. Less successful is the under-seasoned rice au gratin with chicken ($11). Bland chicken cubes are strewn throughout, and even a generous helping of cheese can’t save the dish, which is in desperate need of salt and pepper with some shredded, seasoned chicken. Now that would be a good dish.
The Sparklings is a little quirky but certainly worth a visit. Check out the bar during the extended daily happy hour (30 percent off drinks from 5-10 p.m.), grab a casual bite and bask in the brightness.
The Sparklings 8310 S. Rainbow Blvd. #10, 702-293-5003. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 a.m.