Location: 220 East 4th Street. Santa Ana, CA 92701. Phone: (714) 560-4444
Date: June 9, 2013
Rating: Amazing experience!
At the last minute Foodie Club partner in crime Erick invited me down to the O.C. to join him at this unusual 28 course popup meal. Chef Jason Quinn puts on a kind of culinary theatre, in the vein of Jose Andres’ E, but more dynamic and changing up with much greater frequency.
Tonight’s theme was “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places” and every dish features plebeian vegetable ingredients. The staff manages to make the flavors anything but low.
Like grandma’s stuffed derma — but not!
From my cellar: 1999 Louis Jadot Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. Burghound 90-94. Quite dense and rich though without quite the same serious structure as the Bonne Mares, which is more tannic still. Beautiful black fruit aromatics with rich, relatively forward flavors that are not especially dense but offer an amazing range of earth nuances. While this is hardly shy, it is nevertheless not a powerful wine but rather one built along the lines of a classy middleweight.
This wine needed serious more time. Like a decade. I’ll be saving the rest for a while — although the nose was amazing.
Overall, IO by Playground is a fantastical fantasy of a place. There is really a tremendous energy and culinary enthusiasm here on part of the Chef and all his staff. Nearly every dish was delicacies, even though most were composed of ingredients I’d rarely crow about. It’s modernist, and at the same time borrows from traditional Spanish, Mexican, American, Italian, and Japanese roots. And besides, it’s highly irreverent and all good fun.
I’ll be back.