Tag Archives: dinner

Dinner at The Playground for Edward’s birthday

The Playground

Last night I had dinner at The Playground in Santa Ana to celebrate Edward’s birthday. I’d heard great things about the restaurant, so I was pretty excited. I’ve been trying to save money, and I also heard it was expensive, so I was hoping it’d be worth it. But how could I say no to birthday meal with one of my closest friends?

The Playground

Jan Enters The Arena With A Steam Bun Challenge 8 to be a judge / 4ea tried & true. pork belly steam bun, forever unchanged.

Everything’s meant to be shared, and you can order in waves. The first thing we tried as the “Jan Enters The Arena With A Steam Bun Challenge 8 to be a judge / 4ea tried & true. pork belly steam bun, forever unchanged.” Yep, that’s the whole. I feel like it’s worth including the full detail from the menu here. The Playground has a menu that changes daily, but the pork belly steam bun is a staple that’s permanent. Jan, one of the chefs, wants to change it up. You can order the original or you can pay more to be a judge – you get one original and one of Jan’s new ones, but you have to provide feedback. We got two orders of judege orders and shared so we could all try it. The classic has guacamole and radish (so not exactly what you’d normally expect anyways) whie the new one Vietnamese-inspired with spicy… something… I can’t remember or tell from the picture now… and cilantro. I can think of a few close friends who wouldn’t like that, but all four of us agreed – Jan’s new dish wins! It was delicious!

The Playground

Grilled & Chilled Wagyu Picanha Salad, Butter Lettuce, Yuzu & Seka Hills Olive Oil Dressing, Compressed Persimmons, Blood Orange, Cilantro, Radish

Next up was this salad. What are these words I don’t know? Wagyu are a variety of cattle breeds, including Kobe, known for high quality beef. Obviously. And picanha is a popular Brazilian beef cut. Honestly, the salad was one of the my least favorite items on the menu, but that’s mostly because of how awesome other things were.

The Playground

Brussels Sprouts Caesar, Jalapeño Dressing, Cotija, Tortilla, Cornbread Crumble, Radish

Holy crap. I think this was the best thing I tasted all night. Can I figure out how to make this? Maybe? It was amazing. I’m going to try to reverse-engineer this.

The Playground

Pan Roasted Wild Mushrooms, Goat Cheese Cream, Fried Acorn Squash, Hazelnuts, Dried Cranberry, Crispy Sage

This was pretty tasty, but it paled in comparison to the amazing Brussels sprouts.

The Playground

Maple Glazed Pork Chop

The pork chop came out next. Just look at that thing! They recommend you only order it if you have four people. gem carved it up for us, and man, was it good. That maple glaze was dripping with deliciousness, and I was sure to swirl each bite around in the glaze left at the bottom of the plate.

The Playground

Brunette Downs Grass Fed Braised Beef Cheek, Brown Butter Toasted Farro, Kabocha Squash Puree, Shaved Apple, Pecan, Rocket, Jus

I didn’t realize how amazing beef cheek was. The beef just fell apart in my mouth and practically dissolved. Poor Edward was getting full at this point, but I devoured it.

The Playground

Passion Fruit & Guava Sorbet

Honestly? Kind of meh. But it worked well as a palate cleanser between dishes.

The Playground

Hazelnut Cake, Orange Blossom Tea, Toasted Coconut, Pineapple Ice Cream

This was the dessert I really wanted, and I’m glad we ordered it. It was tasty, but it wasn’t the dessert winner in my opinion. That honor went to…

The Playground

Black Mission Fig Sticky Toffee Pudding

…the toffee pudding! Amazing. Can I cover it in Brussels sprouts and stuff it with pork chop and beef cheek? No, that wouldn’t be a good idea? I guess that’s why I’m not a chef.

This might have been one of the best meals I’ve ever had. In addition, the service was great, and the staff was very friendly. So, maybe I didn’t a great job saving money and not eating out, but it was certainly an awesome meal.

The Playground with Carrie

As an added bonus, here’s a photo of me and Carrie! You’d think there’d be one of me and Edward since it was his birthday. There is actually, but it wasn’t on my phone, so Carrie wins. Thanks for the fun meal everyone!

Me and Edward

Edit: Carrie gave me this great photo of Edward and me!

Pork chops for dinner

Pork chops

Delicious. Pork chops, potato, and Brussels sprout. The pork chops were super cheap too. I usually stick with beef because I don’t have to worry about undercooking it, but this worked wonderfully.

Baked banana with chocolate peanut butter candies

You can’t forget dessert. I put milk chocolate peanut butter bears (essentially peanut butter cups) in the sliced banana before baking it. I had some Albertsons butter pecan ice cream with it too.

Sandwich, sandwich

Sandwich

You see that?

Sandwich

That’s a delicious sandwich.

Sandwich

Also known as dinner.

Chicken breast. Sharp cheddar. Lettuce. Tomato. Avocado. Spicy mustard. Wheat bread.

image

I even came up with a theme song for it. It goes like this. “Sandwich, sandwich,” sung to the tune of the song about Angel. You know, the one that goes like this – “Angel, Angel.” She’s a good dog.

Carnitas zucchini boats

Carnitas and bell pepper stuffed zucchini

This could have been better looking I suppose, but it was tasty. My parents keep growing huge zucchinis, and I’m more than happy to take some off their hands. Tonight I cut a wedge out of the zucchini, baked them for a while, stuffed them with carnitas, roasted bell peppers, and cheddar cheese, and then baked them a little longer. I had beans and cheese on the side, and I topped one of the zucchini boats with chipotle salsa in that photo. The carnitas was pre-cooked, and the salsa and roasted bell peppers both came from jars, but it was still very tasty.

A birthday celebration at the Dinner Detective

dinner detective

To celebrate gem’s birthday, I got us tickets to the Dinner Detective, a murder mystery dinner show. I’d been wanting to do this for her for some time now because I know she likes mysteries. This was the perfect time!

The show was fantastic. It was incredibly funny and more of a show than I expected. I thought there’d be more mingling (and I wasn’t sure how that was going to be), and there was a little, but there was only 10 minutes or so of it total besides talking to the people at our own table.

Having actors mixed into the crowd meant that you weren’t sure if someone was part of the show or not, which really added to the fun. Everyone wore name tags with aliases. gem chose Charlotte Charles (“Chuck”), so I chose Ned to match her. (It’s a reference to Pushing Daisies.) Roleplaying was encouraged, which was really exciting yet odd. It made the evening feel kind of surreal. Usually when you socialize, you’re getting to know people, and you might make new friends. At the show, I socialized with people without knowing if they were choosing to tell me about the real them or a make believe them. I think it’d be fascinating and fun to throw a party at which each person was supposed to roleplay as a made up person. In fact, it’d be fun to attend a normal party and just make up a personality.

Unfortunately, gem and I didn’t figure out who the killer was. Despite having figured out very few of the clues, Pete actually won!

We didn’t get a chance to take any pictures at the show, but we took one after the show with our name tags still on our shirts. gem is holding her birthday gift from my parents. You can tell that Labbit is smart and distinguished from his magnificent mustache.