September 18, 2012

Play Food & Wine

It’s Mother’s Day and I could host my annual Brunch for the mom’s that I adore and respect…   OR I can spend some quality time with my own "MUM" sipping on Mimosas and savouring the best that Ottawa has to offer.
So I ponder around the many choices around the city... like Fraser’s Café, Town, Juniper…  but no other restaurant quite stands out like Play Food & Wine for that perfect Mother’s Day Brunch.  AND at 2 delicious plates for $20… who can beat that price!
Talk about location!  Right in the heart of Ottawa's old Byward Market in a heritage building that exposes brick, beams and has humongous windows.  The abundance of sunlight in the dining room made it the MOST PERFECT MOTHER’S DAY! 
Mom and I are seated on the first floor and our table is “kiddie corner” to York Street & Sussex Drive.  "Could life get any better"... as we sip on fabulous sparkling Mimosas while watching everyone enjoy their leisure stroll on this gorgeous and sunny day!

My mom, a self-taugh Chef, has immense confidence in my amateur “foodie” knowledge.  When the waitress approaches our table with "pen & paper" my mom gives me a “smiley” nod and offers me free range to order our “feast for two”.  But little did she know that I had checked the online menu and was eager and armed with my preferred selections. 
Beef Laab/Romaine/Quinoa/Pickled Onion/Cilantro/Mint

First up, Play's Beef Laab... a spin on Lettuce Wraps with cleverly salted minced beef.  Being a fan of South East Asian food I was quite impressed with the flavour and the balance of sweet, spicy and salty.  Don't let the word Beef Laab scare you... all it means is that the meat is flavoured with fish sauce, lime juice and fresh herbs.  Hmmmm... brings me back to Bangkok.

Next "Playful" dish...  Burrata.  Whenever Burrata appears on a menu, I have a hard time passing it up!  The name "Burrata" means "buttered" in Italian and its made from fresh Mozzarella and Cream.  Play created a wholesome "Pancetta, Grapefruit & Hazelnut" confit spread that was perfectly matched with this type of cheese.  I couldn't resist smothering a hefty Olympic Style spoonful of the Buratta onto toasted bread!

Pork Belly/White Bean Cassoulet/Maple

Ya!  Pork Belly & White Bean Cassoulet was definitely a "hit".  The stew had a hint of Maple carmelization that really uplifted this  dish.  My very minor complaint... I would have prefered the "fatty" part of the pork to be a little more crispy and seared.  But otherwise this was indeed a robust and flavourful dish! 

Gnocchi/Lemon/Cranberry/Brown Butter/Fiddleheads

Play has been serving Gnocchi on their menu since their "Opening".  And every so often they offer different combinations depending on the season.  On this Mother's Day, Fiddleheads and Mushrooms in a classic Brown Butter sauce was truly a "winner".  The Gnocchi being the "star" of the dish was like little clouds of flavourful "fluffy" potato with each bite.  And I really appreciated the incorporation of the slightly crunchy Fiddleheads.

This being my 8th visit to Play Food and Wine I can truly vouch that they continuously offer fresh local ingredients, creative dishes and amicable service.  And the wine pairings impeccably match each dish on their menu.

A well deserved 7 out of 10 BITES!

Pssst..  I haven't even been to Beckta's yet!  Are you Gobsmacked!!

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