Summer is rolling right along and I have two new places to share with you. One in the OC while the other in LA only 35 minutes from home sans traffic. However, today lets drool over The Playground DTSA, (DTSA stands for Down Town Santa Ana). We’ll save the new Los Angeles hot spot for next week.
The first thing to get off my chest; The Playground DTSA, where have you been all my life? I knew of Chef Jason in his early Lime Truck days. They won the Great American Food Truck Race on Food Network. Terrific stuff. Jason, after winning, deciding on setting up shop next door to the crazy talents of Memphis and Lola Gaspar. His presences has elevated the Santa Ana Artist District to new foodie heights. The OC appreciates all of you. We really do.
The Playground DTSA, it is an un-amusing place, relaxed and open. The decor is casual with caulk board walls sharing drink specials and Playground DTSA rules/phrases. Phrases such as “If you want your meat well done, bring your own” and “You, me, and all of our friends” are scrawled along the bar wall. Salt, Pepper and familiar condiments cannot be found on the tables and there are no modifications or substitutes to menu items. The dishes are seasoned the way Jason Quinn wishes you to experience them. Wait, don’t get all scared now, this is a good thing. His palette is spot on.
From The Playground DTSA website:
…our core values: Fresh, exciting ingredients prepared with skill, passion and love, a constantly changing menu, and the stubborn belief that each dish is an integrated composition that we will not alter.
If this makes you question making a reservation here, the word to repeat is:
You will not be disappointed.
Here is a glimpse at a sampling of dishes I’ve indulged in. Some more than once or twice, okay maybe thrice.
Black Mission Fig Sticky Toffee Pudding –
It’s a Sugar. Caramel. Butter. Cream. Salt. Word to your mother.
To obsess a little bit more, the hot cake fresh out of the oven comes sitting in a bath of hot butterscotch sauce, with a generous pile of slightly salted whipped cream, which gets melted by the butterscotch lava with each bite. You guessed it, I call it my “If I Die Tomorrow What Would I Eat Dish”.
A few more here…
Fried Chicken Sandwich with slaw. Amazing.
Pan Roasted Corn, Tare Glaze, Crispy Chicken Skin, Scallion. I’ve been known to order three or more for my table.
Then I must mention….
Pan Roasted Carrots, Prickly Ash, Hoisin Caramel – it would make any non-vegetable eater change their ways.
Cauliflower nachos with an almost licked clean bowl , couldn’t get an iPhone pic fast enough. This by far is my 6 six year olds favorite. Must confess we have ordered two of these dishes for her palette to consume. All to herself. Yeah and it’s cauliflower.
Finally, an off menu item you need to know about. Their signature cheeseburger cooked perfectly, medium rare and juicy. For this quality of 80/20, premium for sure, it could be eaten served rare. Chef Jason’s got this. Remember those words TRUST.
Want to know how this burger comes together? I’ve studied. Take the penultimate ground meat combo, cook it on a grill, flip to add a few slabs of butter, then add a maple bourbon caramelized onion compote. Almost done, but wait, add a little Gruyere and Fontina cheese. Steam it all together under a hood until the melty happens. Then place that meat/onion/cheese combo on a dreamy bun toasted on the grill prior with a parmesan aioli to make the bread crispy. Of course slathered with a little mayo/mustard so the burger doesn’t get soggy once it lands. Oh can’t forget the helping of shredded lettuce before it crosses over the kitchen/front room boundaries.
You must go.
220 East 4th Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Tuesday and Wednesday:
5:00 to Close.
Thursday: 5:00 to 12:00 (Kitchen closes at 11:00)
Friday and Saturday:
5:00 to 1:00. (Kitchen closes at 12:00)
11:00 to 3:00PM.
5:00 to 9:00PM. (Reservations only)
Phone: (714) 560-4444
Can’t wait to see at the Playground DTSA. I’ll share my Black Mission Fig Sticky Toffee Pudding with you.