220 E 4th St
Santa Ana, CA 92701
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Playground

Neighborhoods: Lacy
Cuisine: American, American (New), Small plates

Playground is a American, American (New), and Small plates restaurant where most Menuism users came for fun with friends, paid between $25 and $50, and tipped more than 18%.

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Gayot
Rating:
14 / 20
Price:
$$$$$
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TheTripChick photo

TheTripChick

 Seattle, WA
 

Horrible, they do not care about their patrons at all

I’m wondering if the chef is back there in the kitchen naked, as he is most definitely the emperor in his new clothes.

The sad thing is, apparently it is only the manager and the waitstaff (and a few hundred seriously disillusioned sheep masquerading as patrons) who cannot see that he is naked. This is why he gets away with being a truly pretentious jerk, ruling his little fiefdom of a kitchen from on high. The rest of us sadly shake our heads as we pay our bill, after dining there once (and only once), and go home to see what new scathing response the chef has written to respond to justifiably bad reviews online, throwing a fit and calling his customers d*cks, among other things. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but since he already drenches his fried chicken in vinegar, what’s a little more to spread the wealth? A pretentious toddler, this one is.

Onward. The service, while completely stilted due to the many, many rules (seriously, more rules than dining in Portland – THAT is saying something), is still very good. I feel horrible for them though, as they are certainly suffering with meager tips as they carry out his highness’s rules and regulations. Our host was wonderful. Our server was friendly at first, then as the meal progressed, at least remained professional. Both the manager and the waitstaff are hamstrung by this young chef’s hubris, and you can tell they are tired of dealing with justifiably irate customers by the automatic tone and verbiage they use to explain, yet again, the rules and regulations involved with being a patron of this overpriced and over-hyped joke of a dining establishment.

It’s Sunday brunch and we made a reservation. They let you know, upfront, that you can only have the table for two hours as they are very busy and very important. I must say, they are VERY good about informing you on the rules. VEE HAFF RULES!!! But I digress. I also puzzled a bit when they called to confirm my reservation and let me know that they would be charging my credit card on file that afternoon (it was 2 days in advance) – I had no idea what that even meant but since I never gave them credit card info, I didn’t think much of it. Oh boy, the red flags were flying and I didn’t even see them right in front of my face.

We arrived and took a look around, seeing all the rules written all over the chalkboards and on the menu. I am guessing the chef has unresolved childhood issues as he definitely has a thing for rules. His way or the highway, baby. And don’t let the door hit you in the arse on your way out. We ordered coffee to start, and that’s where the trouble started. Coffee comes black, as that is how they like it – and forget what you, the patron, want. Just give us your money and shut the heck up. No cream, no sugar. The kitchen contains both, but due to the need to be a pretentious, uh, individual, you cannot have either. No matter how much you ask nicely. Or snarl. Really brings out the best in people, these pretentious (and stupid) rules. I get it – the chef wants you to have a certain experience and is crafting such. But no cream or sugar for your coffee? For Pete’s sake, the coffee shop they get the coffee from offers both to their patrons! What is this chef’s problem? Other than his Montana-sized ego, of course.

The food? For what it is, it is okay. Not stellar, nor phenomenal, nor anything I would need to come back for (bad policies aside). The chicken was too vinegary. The biscuit was good. The chilaquiles were fine, if a bit spicy. I picked off my onions and almost felt afraid that I’d get thrown out for doing so. The cornbread was a bit brickish but the butter was good. The nectarine doughnut was fine, but it was the nectarine glaze that made it so. An okay meal, but nothing amazing and definitely overpriced.

The coffee? Well, the person in our group who wanted sugar ended up going out to the car for some contraband sugar. Glad we didn’t get booted for bringing in illegal sugar. I take my coffee black, so I didn’t need to buck the rules. BUT, that said, the coffee was just fine. Again, no angels singing when I tasted it, nor unicorns flying overhead. Regular coffee. What a joke. After the hype, NOTHING will be as good as you think it should.

The moral of the story? Don’t believe your own hype and publicity. Young chef, you’ll learn this lesson soon enough, so enjoy your gig while it lasts.

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American American (New) Small plates
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Playground  Restaurant Reviews

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Playground is located near the cities of Tustin and Orange County.
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