In the heart of Downtown Santa Ana resides The Playground Restaurant. Jason Quinn is the Owner & Chef, however the best part is Jason has no formal culinary training or background. He went from having to survive in college to falling in love with food when he was at The University of Santa Barbara. From there Jason joined The Lime Truck, won The Food Truck Race on The Food Network. With the money he won, he put it towards opening The Playground along with investors. The good and bad of The Playground is they’re constantly updating their menu and dishes every day. One day you can have some amazing asparagus, and the next day it’s gone. Their menu is curated around seasonal items when they are at their peak. Tonight we started off with their Brussel Sprouts Caesar, which was their rendition on a Caesar salad. The brussels sprouts were flash fried, topped with jalapenos, radish, Cotija Cheese, and a Cornbread Crumble. The textures were perfect as the cornbread gave each bite an additional crisp, the jalapeno added a nice kick to the tangy creamy Caesar sauce as the radish helped refreshed the dish. The next dish we went with was the kingdom Cheddar & Chive Spread. On a plate came potato croquettes with a caramelized onions, beneath a cheddar and chive spread. This was delicious, I loved the caramelized onions in this dish as the chives gave it a beautiful bite. Jason’s wife Hillary, is known for making the best hand made pastas from scratch so tonight they offered a Ricotta Cavatelli which we had to go with. This was served with a short rib ragu, a potato and cheese creamy sauce, and caramelized onions. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, the sauce was not overwhelming, and the braised short rib was cooked perfectly and so tender. I would always highly suggest a pasta dish here as once again it’s made from scratch, most places nowadays don’t do that and it’s such a difference. Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken, perfectly fried, crisp, and juicy piece of chicken. This dish comes with two small thighs and two drumsticks. It’s you’re not into a tangy sauce, then please don’t order this dish, however for me, I absolutely love the tanginess, sweetness, spices, it’s a great chicken wing but strong due to the vinegar base. The last entrée we went with was their signature Maple Glazed Pork Chop, which has been on their menu consistently since day one. This is a quadruple cut pork chop, so it’s absolutely ginormous! Sous vide, and finished off in a pan with butter, salt, and maple. The sear and finish on the crust is beautiful, the porkchop itself is extremely juicy and cooked absolutely perfect. I would highly suggest this dish, reminds me of a Christmas Ham done absolutely right. Last but not least we went with their Crème fraiche Panna Cotta Tart. Since we had a few rich dishes, we went with a lighter dish to finish everything off. The crust on the panna cotta was light and airey, the panna cotta itself was so smooth. This was topped with a berry compote. The only thing for me was the dish needed a bit more sweetness to it since berries aren’t in season, they aren’t at their max flavor or ripeness. Overall we had a wonderful experience and most definitely will be back soon. Let me know if you give Playground a try!
Restaurant – Playground
Location – 220 East 4th Street #102, Santa Ana, CA 92701
Contact – 714.560.4444
Cuisine – American New, Tapas, Fusion