Just to refresh your memory, The Playground is a restaurant that experiments with different ingredients to create a combination of flavors and textures that play with your senses. Once a week they hold a reservation-only event serving a parade of dishes based on the chef’s mood and creativity called Sunday Supper. We enjoyed our first visit so much we vowed to return.
We hit the ground running as the plates arrived immediately. The presentation teased our senses and we jumped in without hesitation. The flavor experience was as follows:
Mixed Green salad tossed in a spicy Sambal glaze and shaved apple, turnip, radish, carrot, and crispy wonton. This was really spicy. Our mouths were on fire, but we loved it.
Sunchoke Falafel in an Aleppo pepper puree with sunflower seeds and sriracha. The texture was light and fluffy with a good balance of flavorful spice and heat.
Cornbread with honey infused butter. The sweet butter quelled the heat from the previous dishes.
Grilled Broccolini over Salsa Romesco, puffed wild rice and shaved Manchego cheese. The crispy vegetable paired well with the salty cheese.
Deep-fried cauliflower tossed in a Szechuan glaze with red bell pepper, green onion, peanuts and Korean rice cake. Fried without batter kept the vegetable flavor true. Typically Szechuan flavors are spicy, however relative to the first two dishes the heat here was rather mild.
Tamarind glazed wild mushrooms over a Dal puree, pappadom chips and topped with lime yogurt. The creamy texture was not too rich and it was a great contrast to the chips.
Barbeque Spiced Pollorones, i.e. deep-fried chicken skin. This was not at all like pork rinds in a smaller scale. The dusting of spice was reminiscent of barbeque potato chips with regards to texture not flavor. This flavor reminded me of those found in Indian fried snacks.
Vegetarian Chili with Scarlet runner beans, house-made chili powder, topped with sour cream, cilantro, brunois onion and crispy tortilla. The beans were so large and meaty that one bean filled the spoon for each bite.
Jambalaya with house-made Andouille sausage, rock shrimp, and fish stock. This dish used too much liquid during the rice preparation and lacked sufficient sausage and shrimp. Despite the mushy texture and single sausage slice, this carbohydrate rich dish was flavorful.
Maltagliati with Pork Sugo and Parmesan cheese. The pasta tasted fresh and was cooked perfectly al dente. The sauce and cheese was the perfect touch to this comfort food entrée.
Maple-glazed pork chop is their signature favorite not to be missed. The size alone is impressive. The meat is tender and juicy. However, the best part is the sweet and sticky maple glaze. There was not a single bite that did not get a dip in the glaze before being consumed.
Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken from Memphis Tennessee tossed in vinegar, hot sauce and honey is another house favorite. However, tonight the chicken was a bit of a miss. The pieces were a bit on the slim side and they were overly vinegared.
Escolar fish with three types of Cauliflower (puree, hearts, yellow) on a pumpkin seed pesto was a new dish for us and it was a complete failure. The fish texture was dry and too firm with a pungent fishy odor and taste. It was off-putting. Unfortunately, the accompaniments did not bring any redeeming value to the plate as they lacked flavor.
Duck Breast with cauliflower puree, duck jus, watercress and Sambal with a charred carrot on the side had a beautiful presentation, however, the duck meat was rubbery and was very bland. I made sure to have a bite that included a little bit of everything on the plate thinking that all the components would create a satisfying experience. Needless to say, this did not happen. This dish was another failure.
Lime curd with Coconut and Brown sugar crumble and fresh whipped cream was intended to be a palate cleanser. It was lovely. The tartness was well balanced with creamy texture. My only complaint was that the four of us had to share a shot glass portion. We should have had at least one more between the four of us.
Black Mission Fig Sticky Toffee pudding with sea salt whipped cream is The Playground’s signature dessert. The giant muffin sized cake was moist and bounced to the touch. Blanketed in sweet and sticky caramel sauce was like getting a warm comforting hug with each bite and was the perfect finale to this gastronomic adventure.
Every sense was addressed, sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy and savory, i.e. umami. No adventure would be complete without the ups and down. The experience was exceptional and the overwhelming number of successes made up for the few misses. All in all, we loved it and will gladly return to partake in another Sunday Supper journey of flavors.