As The Playground's Owner & Executive Chef, Jason Quinn puts it, the vision for his menu was simple: "New American small plates. Ingredient-driven. Technique-driven. One great burger, epic chicken wings, delicious pork belly, awesome vegetable preparations, sous-vide hanger steak, interesting flavor combinations." And, together with his team of insanely-talented, young chefs (Brad Radack, Frank Deloach, Karl Pfleider and April Ventura), this vision has quickly become a mind-blowing, delicious reality.
And, food is only part of the story at The Playground. Beer-lovers, brace yourselves. With the help of Jarred Dooley, one of approximately 200 Certified Cicerones (a.k.a., Master Beer Sommeliers), The Playground boasts a world-class craft beer list with 15 rotating beers on tap and a 60+ bottle list -- needless to say, there's a little bit of something for everyone. And, in the spirit equality, all draft beers are $5, all the time. They simply come in 15, 11 or 8-ounce pours, depending on cost and alcohol content - but, no matter what, are always 5 bucks. Gotta love that!
|A mind-boggling craft beer list consisting of 15 rotating beers on-tap and 60+ bottled beers|
On Tuesday, November 15th The Playground opened their doors to family & friends for an evening of menu tasting and celebration, and I was there to capture some behind-the-scenes action both on the dining room floor and inside the kitchen. Below, feast your eyes on a small visual taste of what The Playground menu has to offer. Then, be sure to come out & 'play' next time you're in Santa Ana - I promise, even if you don't live locally, it's worth the trip!... Hope to see you all there soon!
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|Left: Pre-opening, the staff of The Playground samples the menu; Right: Jason Quinn describes the menu to staff|
|Shishito Peppers and Edamame; As the Soy-Sambai sauce reaches caramelization|
|Shishito Peppers and Edamame served in a Soy-Sambai Caramel|
|A colorful assortment of house-made pickles|
|Kurobuta Pork Belly Individual Piadina sandwich with Charred Scallion Crema and Salsa Tigre|
|Left: Jason Quinn expediting with Brad Radak in the Kitchen; Right: Karl Pfleider & Brad Radack workin' their magic|
|Hand-cut fries served atop Green Tabasco Aioli, sprinkled with.... BACON FAT POWDER. Yesssss.|
|Left: Brad Radack, Karl Pfleider & Frank Deloach; Right: Brad Radack|
|Prime 6-Ounce Hangar Steak with creamed spinach and garlic chips - This steak is cooked a perfect medium-rare and is so tender, it melts in your mouth like butta'|
|One of the coolest, most interactive items on the menu, "Our Bread, Your Butter" - just shake the mason jar and the marbles inside turn the cream into fresh, salty, perfectly-handmade butter after 40 seconds of shaking|
|Left: Frank Deloach; Right: Jason Quinn expedites|
|Karl Pfleider & Frank Deloach, kickin' a** & takin' names|
|Handmade Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi in Mushroom Ragu (yep - even the Ricotta is made in-house!)|
|Frank Deloach & Brad Radack, turnin' up the heat in The Playground kitchen|
|Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto di Parma and a whole-grain mustard vinaigrette|
|Left: Jason Quinn; Right: Karl Pfleider|
|PEI Mussels with white wine, crema, perfectly-caramelized onions and plenty of thick toast for dipping|
|Left: April Ventura; Right: Brad Radack|
|Desserts by Black Market Bakery. Left: Thanksgiving Woopie Pie; Right: Farmers Daughter Pudding|