Fri. Mar 31st, 2023

playground blood burger

Gross…and $16!

I came across an interesting article over in the OC Weekly today, about Santa Ana’s “The Playground” restaurant.  Apparently one of the OC Weekly’s readers visited The Playground and he asked for a slice of orange for his drink.  He was refused.  The policy at this pricey restaurant is to refuse any food or drink modification requests by customers.  The upset customer apparently told the server that he would write a bad review on Yelp and that was it.  He was tossed out!

He may have been lucky.  Go over to Yelp and you will see that many folks have had awful experiences at The Playground.  Click here and see for yourself!  The complaints are legion.  The Yelpers often complain about the service; the huge amounts of salt on the food; the under-cooked meat; the small portions; the strange food pairings; the noise; the lack of tables, etc.

Several Yelpers complained about the dirty bathrooms.  The Orange County Health Care Agency inspected The Playground on November 8, last year.  They found dirty bathrooms too – and more:

  • Signs/Labels/Menu Board/Trans Fat-Missing/Incorrect/Lack of Food Handler Card
  • Uncleanliness of Premises/Trash Storage
  • Restroom in Disrepair/Unclean/Improp. Use/Supplies
  • Improper Food Storage/Receiving
  • Inadequate Hygiene (Hair/Clothing/Eating/Drinking)
  • Unsanitary Equipment/Utensil/Linen/Plumbing
  • Inappropriate Sanitizer Level/ Lack of Test Strips
  • Lack of/Unsanitary/Condition Walls/Floors/Ceilings

The Playground

Raw meat fans will love The Playground…

This is one of the Downtown Santa Ana restaurants that has apparently benefited from the PBID – the unethical property tax that robbed some businesses in order to market others.  I wish I could tell you that the other Downtown gentrified eateries are any good, but click here and find out the bad news for yourself.

What I find most deplorable about The Playground is that they are run by a professional Chef, Jason Quinn, but he apparently doesn’t care about what his customers want.  Nor does food safety or hygiene in general seem to matter to him, as per the County’s findings.

Do yourself a favor.  If you are in Downtown Santa Ana and you’re hungry go to Main, head North and eat at Norm’s.  They will fill you up at a fraction of the cost and will be happy to modify the food anyway you want it!

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

15 thoughts on “Problems at The Playground?”
  1. They have 4.5 stars on yelp after 700 reviews, yeah, the complaints are just destroying them. Get over yourself. The meat is never cooked to an illegal temperature level, some people just can’t handle anything below medium. They source high quality meat and cook it accordingly (see: they don’t destroy it by overcooking it).

    Restaurants get hit all of the time with findings like this, if they were actually serious, the restaurant would be shut down until the problems were addressed. As such, The Playground remained opened, because the violations were minor and easy to address. They don’t apologize for the way they serve the food they cook and they are absolutely serious when they say you can bring in your own stuff and they will cook it in any way you see fit.

    The place continues to do good business, and will continue to do good business because, despite a few Yelp reviews, they make their customers happy.

    The tone of this writing might allude to the fact that I have some sort of connection to the restaurant, but that is 100% untrue, I just enjoy the food and staff that work there.

    P.S. – Norm’s, really?

    1. What I saw in the negative Yelp reviews was consistency, as the complaints were often along the same lines. Consistently bad that is. If you enjoy it, good for you. I won’t go there and won’t recommend it.

      As for Norms, they offer food value and good service. From what I can tell, those qualities are lacking at The Playground.

      1. Do you know what consistent means? Again, 4.5 stars after 700 reviews points to consistent satisfaction on the whole. How can that be debated? Of course there will be a handful of negative reviews, that’s the nature of the beast. You obviously have a bone to pick with those you deem as “gentrifiers,” so it’s fairly clear your condemnation comes from a deeper place.

        The Playground is doing great business and Quinn is opening more restaurants, so there’s that.

        Also, that spat with the yelp reviewer is old news and Quinn was given major props from other chefs and business owners alike.

        Keep on keepin’ on at Norms, the bastion of quality eats.

        1. I read many of those reviews. They seem rather bogus – programmed hipsters. What is consistent are the complaints. And the chef’s rude behavior.

          Why spend a fortune at the Playground for rude service, under-cooked meat, too much salt and loud music? How in the world does any of that sound appetizing?

          1. Ha. So you’ll just make inferences into the validity of positive reviews to further your own cause, but just expound on the negative reviews as though they are gospel? Your methods are absolute folly and you have an absolute cross to bare. Really cute.

            You keep repeating the same false tune. The meat is never cooked to an unacceptable level. They prepare their food a certain way and won’t apologize for it, the same model is true of any restaurant that takes pride in what they do. Any prix fixe chef’s menu will state that there are no substitutions, Quinn and Co. just treat their nightly menu as such. Your Yelp sleuth skills notwithstanding, their methods are obviously not hurting them, as they continue to do great business.

          2. Then why did the Playground’s Chef and owner comment on so many of the Yelp reviews?

            Raw meat may be acceptable to Quinn but apparently a lot of his own clients dislike it. He just doesn’t care. Buyer beware!

          3. Because restaurant owners are allowed to respond to critiques on Yelp, so why wouldn’t he? The fact of the matter is that you are nitpicking and being selective to advance a weak argument. This is not a new phenomenon in writing or debate. I’m just trying to help you realize it. It’s for your own good.

            Finer grades of beef can be cooked to a certain level of acceptable temperatures (higher grade meat, lower temps). You (and I’m assuming some of the reviews you handpicked) keep using the word “raw,” which is inaccurate. Just because people are unfamiliar/uncomfortable with medium-rare or rare meat does not make it illegal or odd.

            I can’t wait to see your next scathing expose when another of Quinn’s projects opens up in DTSA. The Grilled Cheese spot just opened up, are you going to accuse them of using too much cheese? Their sandwiches go upwards of $12, I can see a Subway referral in your future.

          4. The problem is that customers of the Playground are forced to eat food that is not prepared to their liking. Easy solution – don’t go there.

            And no, I would not pay twelve dollars for grilled cheese.

  2. Leave the food reviews to Gustavo. You suck at it and are trying to link them to the pbid- . learn how to research.

    That is all.

      1. Read what I wrote earlier. Health findings were all minor in nature, otherwise the restaurant would have had to shut down to address them. Restaurants all over the county get similar infractions and deal with them accordingly. You are chasing your own tail on this as a way to vent about the gentrification in Downtown. Embrace it. It’s not going anywhere.

        1. If it’s not going anywhere then why do you keep commenting on this post?

          There are Yelpers who also has written about the unclean bathrooms at the Playground. Call that minor but that’s where the employees are supposedly washing up too! It matters.

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