Thursday, September 1, 2016


220 E 4th St, Ste 102
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Tel: 714.560.4444
Cuisine: American (New)
$$ ($15-$30)
Sat, 08/20/2016, 8:30pm reservation
    (4 Piglets)

Once was the Lime Truck has now been turned into a brick and mortar spot. The winners of the Great Food Truck Race Season 2 have developed something special at this Downtown Santa Ana eatery. The menu is constantly changing and geared towards providing fresh ingredients as they come. It's globally inspired and they make note of what country or person offers that inspiration for the dish. 

The interior actually is nothing special. It's simple, with yellow painted walls and a bar. They have a decent selection of beer, cocktails and wine. 

In terms of ordering, if you're into changing your dishes rather than ordering as is, this place isn't for you. You must order as is. If you're not happy with how something tastes, they'll be happy to put in something more suitable for your palate. 

The interior
PAN ROASTED CORN ($13.00-JAPAN): Smokey Chicken Tare, Scallion, Crispy Shallots. This dish was amazing and one of my favorites. It was super tasty with a hint of soy sauce mixed in with some chicken sauce as well. The crispy shallots added a great texture and crunch. It was slightly sweet with a perfect balance of acidity. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish. 
UNCLE LOU'S FRIED CHICKEN (4 PIECES FOR $10.00): The one item you can't send back. If you don't know what you're getting yourself into, get something else. This was some good fried chicken. Four pieces is enough for two people if you want to taste other dishes. The chicken was done Memphis style with vinegar, Louisiana hot sauce and honey. It was super crispy and not breaded. Initially, I thought it was too acidic, but once you continue eating, it gets addicting. The chicken was nice and tender and its a definite must order. 
HILLARY'S PORK AND APPLE STUFFED BLACK GARLIC AGNOLOTTI ($22.00-ITALY): Fennel Soubise, Lemon, Hazelnut Crumble.  This was my least favorite dish. The agnolotti is gigantic! I've never really had agnolotti this big before. It felt more like potstickers or dumplings than a filled pasta. The texture of the agnolotti wasn't my favorite and the filling was just ok. The filling would actually pop out of the pasta as soon as you took a bite, which was annoying. The sauce was almost like a bechamel sauce with hazelnut. Overall, it was just ok. 
MY FAVORITE DISH. BLACK MISSION FIG STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING ($10.00). This dessert is freakin amaze-balls. When I ordered it, I wasn't expecting much. I've had a fair share of sticky toffee pudding whilst living in London. Upon first glance, I thought it looked good; but once I took a bite into this warm goodness, I was taken back at how delicious it was. It was super moist and warm. One of the best parts of the dish was the whipped cream. I am never really a fan of whipped cream with cake to begin with, but this stuff is like crack. It's so light and airy and almost tasted like a salted caramel whipped cream. I loved every bite of this dish!! 

Overall, the Playground is probably one of, if not, the best restaurant in Orange County. The menu is playful (hence the name) and I love that it's geared towards fresh ingredients while utilizing a seasonal menu. They've done something pretty special here and no wonder it's always pretty booked. Tip: There's a parking structure around the corner making it conveniently easy. 

Notable dishes: Black Mission Fig Sticky Toffee Pudding, Pan Roasted Corn and Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken

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