Playground is Fucking Fantastic -Disagree? I’ll Punch You

Playground-Santa-Ana

So this is the part where I begin by rambling on about some non sequitur and try to connect it to the review at hand. Not this time. This one is all about the food. It deserves all the space I can spare.

A group of us showed up for brunch Sunday morning at The Playground, ordered and shared countless dishes, and enjoyed the hell out of it all. Dishes we ordered: Almond Sticky Bun, French Toast, Pork Belly Fries, Hang-over Fried Rice, Jidori Poussin Sandwich, Steak Tartare Benedicty Thing, Wagyu Tri-Tip & Eggs, and the Smoked Salmon & Trout Omelette.

To paraphrase a friend’s reaction, the Almond Sticky Bun was “like Cinnabon on crack” — light and covered with chunks of almonds rather than slices, making for a crunchier, more enjoyable texture. The French Toast was pretty much bruleed; hearty slices of eggy bread, caramelized on both sides and slathered in syrup. I honestly expected some fashion of braised pork belly OVER French fries, but instead the Pork Belly Fries were literally fries made of pork belly.

Fries…made of pork belly.

Topped with a perfect over-easy egg and pickle aioli. Dreams on a plate.

Sure to cure whatever ails you, the Hangover Fried Rice has something for everyone: chorizo, scallops, eggs, and sausage tossed together in a beautiful mélange, though the rice was somewhat dry.

Do you enjoy the occasional chicken McSandwich or McNugget? Well it’s not even within the same species compared to the Jidori chicken in the Poussin Sandwich at Playground, considering how juicy and flavorful it is on its own. But when you add a buttermilk breading, fried egg, thick cheddar, buttery brioche bun, and gravy? You’ll burn the next McDonalds you see to the ground.

The omelette was an omelette, nothing I haven’t seen before. The Steak Tartare Benedicty Thing was exactly that: thick-cut bread topped with angus tartare, cheddar, two expertly poached eggs, and a creamy chipotle-hollandaise sauce I would love to have on tap in my kitchen. My favorite thing was probably the Wagyu Tri-Tip, which was covered in the delicious chimichurri, but more importantly, one of the best-cooked pieces of meat I have ever had in my life. I mean it.

The Playground is the creation of Jason Quinn, former head chef for the Lime Truck. Full disclosure mode: Jason is a friend, but if anything, it makes me more keen on judging him. Luckily I don’t have to, because he and his crew are currently some of the most talented chefs in Southern California. I truly cannot recommend a better restaurant in Orange County at the moment, especially if your ideal meal consists of good conversation, good food, and good conversation about good food.

P.S. Their burger is always available, even if it’s not on the menu.

Mile-High Club     First-Class     Business     Economy

Check ’em out at:

220 East 4th Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701
714-560-4444
www.playgrounddtsa.com

Photography by Eunice Lee