The Playground Restaurant will be like no other dining experience you’ve ever had.  This is the place where creativity is supreme, it birthed from The Lime Truck, they do it their way–which is fine by us, and a new menu everyday.

The name Playground tells it all.  This restaurant is the place where you can play in the sand with a plate of great food.  Heard tel, the owner didn’t even go to culinary school.  Rumor is, that’s the way he likes it.  He doesn’t want school to demand in him a certain way to cook.  No rules with food here.  Just a place to play with food combinations.  And don’t worry, if something sounds weird–it’ll probably be your favorite dish.  So, leave your picky palates at the door, as a free spirit of “trying new things” is at the heart of this place.

Also, don’t try and ask for substitutions.  If you’re one of those people that are hard to please……you know, completely spoiled type, and it shows in your everyday dealings; then this isn’t the place for you.  They even set the expectations with their waiters and on their website.  They warn, “We have also noted that there are a number of people who do not like to be told how their food is going to come…….At the Playground, you have to submit to our whim.”  We love this about the Playground.  Set it straight up front–and send the whiners home.

My first time here, Jenny and our friend Shelby, took the rains and ordered item after item.  I was nervous for many of the dishes, as I didn’t understand many of the combinations.  However, they came out with nice presentation and they tasted even better.

Reservations are recommended, however if you show up at open-5pm-you’re likely to get in as we did.

 The dining area promotes the creative open feel the restaurant targets.

This wall is one massive chalkboard, and that’s one nice countertop.

Yet again, another sign that the Playground does things their way.  It’s presented in a fun-kind of–I better go along with it so I don’t miss the party–way.  Quote, “If you want your meat well done, feel free to bring your own!”  Do you see it?

 If you’re in business–looking to please some clients–call the restaurant and ask them about 2.0.

Fried Cauliflower spicy Thai chile vinegar crunches, ginger and mint

I want to warn you again, just because we have a wonderful looking picture of their food, it doesn’t mean it will be on the menu once you show up.  By all accounts, they have a new menu everyday.  If they have this Fried Cauliflower–order it!

Fried Brussels Sprouts, torn baked potato, honey mustard vin

Couldn’t get enough of this dish.  Kept alternating cauliflower and brussels bites.

 Gonestraw farms custards duck egg, buckwheat, puffed grains, house bacon, whipped maple

This creative dish gets mixed up with the egg and is like eating breakfast for dinner.  We love the puffed grains in it.

Kurobuta belly steam bun, guacamole, radish

If this I-don’t-know-how-to-explain-it item is on the menu, please order it!

The Playground Burger

FINALLY!….the one item that is available at all times, however is NOT on the menu.

This is an awesome wagyu mixed with it’s own blend of premium beef cuts on a brioche bun.  One of the top burgers we’ve had.

Smoked nicotine chicken pot pie, celery root, Tokyo turnip, carrots, fingerling potato

 The crust and that most tasteful middle were perfect for each other.

Granny smith apple hand pie

This dessert was most pleasant.  Ask for a double scoop of ice cream to bring this dish from greatness to perfection.  I’m actually curious if they’ll say NO.

CONCLUSION:  A MUST go to restaurant for free spirited foodies.  No food prudes should come.  No pre-madonnas (ok, ok prima donna) should attend–yes, that means you Yasiel Puig.  Just come, let one in your party take the ordering reigns, and enjoy the creative concoctions.

LOCATION:
The Playground (their website here)
220 East 4th Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 560-4444

HOURS:
Tues to Thurs:  5 – 10pm
Fri & Sat:  5 – 12am
Sunday:  11a – 3p,  5 – 9p (reservation only)

OUR BILL: $90 (2 people, post tip, no alcohol, and stuffed)

-Cullen