I came back to the Playground for a redemption dinner because from what I can gather, Jason Quinn is someone that you cannot help but admire because his passion for food shows in his dishes. He is willing to take a chance to try out new things & push the limit in experimenting on new dishes to see what works & what doesn’t work.

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This was the menu of what we had for this dinner because the menu changes every night.

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Brussels Sprouts Caesar (Jalapeno Dressing, Cotija, Radish, Cilantro, Tortilla) : 5 stars

This is one the best dishes that I had for this evening. The flavors from each of the ingredients of this dish perfectly balanced this dish out.

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Avocado, Cara Cara Orange, Beets, Radish, Red Fresno, Chile Bruto: 3.5 stars

A good refreshing healthy starter dish that’s refreshing enough to get you up & ready for the next upcoming dishes.

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Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken: 4.5 stars

Very moist, not overpowering with vinegar, good combo of honey & vinegar. This was not as crispy as I would have liked but the meat just melted off the bones. No wonder this is one of the signature dishes here at Playground. 

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Charred Satsuki Rice & Alaskan Halibut Cheeks (Edamame, Shishitos, Crispy Shallots, Grated Daikon Marinated in Soy Misoyaki Sauce, Nori, Lime): 4.5 stars

This dish came with thin nori wraps which was a great way to roll up the halibut. The halibut had a slight citrus taste but was extremely fresh & tender. The delicate soy misoyaki sauce misoyaki sauce tied this elegant, yet delicious dish together. 

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Dragon Roasted Asparagus (Lemon, Garlic, Chile, Black Rice): 3.5 stars

A healthy vegan dish that people will enjoy, this was a bit on the salty side but the black rice balanced this dish out.

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Hillarys Papparadelle (Dungess crab, melted leeks, Burrata, Lemon, Chive): 3 stars

This was one of the weaker dishes because the pasta could have been cut up into pieces or this would have made a good ravioli dish. The sauce was a bit on the bland side but the pieces of dungess crab was nicely portioned.

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 The Labor of Love That Is The Italian Springtime (Artichokesm Confit in Calabrian, Chile Oil, Peas, Fava Beans, Pickled Baby Fennel, Goat Cheese, Pine Nuts, Lemon): 3 stars

This was a good spring time themed dish that was light, healthy & refreshing but I think it was just missing something to tie all of these flavors in. 

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Manila Clams Cooked in Dashi: 4.5 stars

The clams were very fresh & tender in this dish. The dashi, creme fraiche and garlic enhanced the clams’ natural taste & smooth texture.  

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Wolf of the Sea Crudo (Cucumber Soda, Kumquat, Jicama, Sweet Onion, Pickled Chile, Cilantro): 4.5 stars

This was a very light and refreshing with a citrusy delicate finish to this dish which reminded me of fresh sashimi that you would order as an Omakase dish which means, essentially, “chef’s choice.” The light citrusy sauce tied this whole dish together. 

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Markee G’s Pork Cheek Barbacoa Tostada Plate (Mezcal Roasted Pineapple, Black Beans, Pickled Red Onion, Queso Freso, Cilantro): 4.5 stars

This was extremely tender & yummy because the pineapple balanced out the hearty flavors of the pork cheek. 

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Maple Glazed Pork Chop: 5 stars

The sauce is a bit salty on the outside of this pork chop but on the inside, the meat was extremely tender. Brussels sprouts would have been a good side dish. The meat by the bone is a bit saltier than by the outside but this was still an amazing dish overall. 

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Bruleed Ojai Pixie Tangerine (Hazelnut cake, Aerated Hazelnut Milk, Orange Sorbet): 2 stars

This was one of the weaker desserts which we felt that the flavors were on the bland side & the hazelnut cake wasn’t represented much here in this dish. 

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Grape & Meyer Lemon Sorbet: 3.5 stars

A very light, citrusy and refreshing sorbet that will help you cleanse your palate after a hearty meal. 

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Carmelized Sweet Potato Pie (Sage Meringue, Granola, Milk & Honey Sherbet): 2 stars

We felt that the sweet potato in this pie was too light & the sherbets tasted like air & did not add any flavor to the pie either. 

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Black Mission Fig Sticky Toffee Pudding: 4.5 stars

I think that Jason read my last review regarding this dessert being too sweet & overwhelming; so this time around I was extremely surprised at the transformation of this dish! This bread pudding was not overly sweet at all but instead, very well balanced & delicious. 

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 Yuzu Cake: 4.5 stars

This yuzu cake has made a complete turn around since the last time that I was here, now it’s very light & refreshing. The flavors here were very well balanced. 

5 stars

Overall, this was a 5 stars experience & a 180 degree change from the 1st experience that I had here. It seemed to me that Jason had made a lot of adjustments to the dishes which I had tried the 1st time. It’s good to know when a restaurant owner/ chef listens to what the customers’ think/ feel about the dishes.

4cbGX4dcgPlayground

220 E 4th St

Santa Ana, CA 92701

(714) 560-4444

http://playgrounddtsa.com/

Playground on Urbanspoon

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