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Monday, July 2, 2012

The Playground in Santa Ana, CA

The Playground was a restaurant that I've been waiting to try... for oh so long.  I'm a huge fan of The Lime Truck (winners of season 2 of The Great Food Truck Challenge on Food Network) and when Daniel told me a while ago that they were planning to open a B&M restaurant... I was stoked.

Then the restaurant opened... no chance to go...

And finally, an opportunity arose.

I don't know if there is a specialty of The Playground.  Much like The Lime Truck, Chef Jason and co. continuously update their menu based upon what was locally and seasonally available  Thanks to Melissa's Produce, these guys are able to create amazing menus that are always fun and that always pack a punch of flavor with it.

We went June 29th, just a couple days before the stupid foie gras ban in California.  And we pigged out on foie gras.

My personal favorite was the foie gras PB&J...  Yes.  Peanut butter and jelly spread over foie gras over a small piece of toast.

What looks like a muddled mess is actually a work of art to your palate.  That classic combination of foie gras' rich nature and sweet is given a small twist as the jelly sweetens your mouth and the peanut butter almost seems to coat your mouth and adhere the rich foie to it, giving you just another fleeting moment of happiness as you bite into that foie.

These guys like to keep stuff simple as well.  Here, we have nigiri.  And no, that is not raw fish on the rice, it's a slice of foie gras, nicely carmalized.  My party preferred this over the foie gras PB & J... and who can blame them?  The rich fat of the foie oozes down into the rice, flavoring the rice with its richness along with the subtle sweetness of the mirin in the rice.  Oh man.

Foie gras with oxtail and fries.  This was my least favorite of the three that I'm displaying here.  It was just a tad bit too salty and overwhelming for me.  Though it was still good, it didn't have that graceful balance that the two prior dishes had.  Maybe it was also because I had it last and I was already pretty damned stuffed.

Of course foie isn't all they have.  Their homemade fries with garlic aioli was I think the most perfect fries I have ever had in my life.  So crispy.  The aioli went so well with it.  A must try.

Other dishes to note were the steak that they offered.  I believe it was a wagyu ribeye.  Very well cooked.  The meat was deliciously tender and we had some chimichurri from another dish that we included with the steak... so good.

Another great part of this night's feast was the pork chop shown above.  Though it's a huge roast, the brine was able to penetrate the meat and even the very middle of the roast had a perfect hint of maple.  Nicely tender and priced at only $25 for that huge roast.

I can go on and on about each dish that we had.  But you know what?  It might not even be there when you decide to try this place out!  So head over to The Playground right now to see what they have available for you to try.  Every dish is a guaranteed treat for you.

My girlfriend and I paid $160 post tax tip for all the foie, food and alcohol we could stuff into our stomachs. You will surely spend less since the foie dishes are gone (damn hippies in California).  Hell, that $25 pork chop roast will fill up two people quite nicely.

The Playground
220 East 4th Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 560-4444