Friday, April 29, 2016

Playground - Santa Ana

The first time I reviewed Playground in Downtown Santa Ana was when it opened more than four years ago. Since that time it has become a darling of the OC food scene because of good ol' fashioned word-of-mouth, the string of TV shows that the chef and owner, Jason Quinn, has been in...and, oh yeah, that one time when he told an unkind Yelp reviewer to "burn in hell".

That one incident probably cinched his acclaim as news outlets picked up on the story. As with most things this day and age, you don't get anywhere if you don't court controversy.

But if his restaurant is anything, it's something that's almost impossible to review. Because it updates the menu daily, any dish that any reviewer might rave or rant about one night might not be there the next.

So I'll tell you about the dishes I had last week, even though if you're reading this later than the last week of April 2016, you aren't likely to see any of the stuff I had.

There was the incredibly tender and crispy Spanish octopus with perfectly fried potatoes plated using negative space. And a melting hunk of Kurobuta pork belly tucked in a steam bun with guacamole. And a Gibraltar-sized boulder of pork chop that had our entire table contemplating how best to extricate the last of the meat from the bone.

There was the stir-fried udon dish that came with a raw egg yolk on top to mix into it. And the eight-piece order of the Memphis-style Uncle Lou's fried chicken I'm going to talk about next week in OC Weekly.

Then there was the Brussels sprouts we ordered to offset the meat dishes, which turned out to be as rich as any of them.

And then there was dessert: an awesome sticky toffee pudding with salted whipped cream, and the drink special of the night called "Purple Rain," which they offered to honor Prince who died earlier that same day.

So even if you're reading this in the distant future, go anyway, because Playground is like a box of chocolates, and you know what they say about that...

220 E 4th St #102
Santa Ana, CA 92701

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