We had been meaning to try Play Food & Wine for some time now. I think it was because like many men, Greg had some reservations with the idea of small plates. But on this rainy Saturday in May, Greg threw caution to the wind as we crossed York Street and headed over just as doors opened for lunch at noon.
With a seat beside the window, the simple décor, sky blue paint and hardwood floors, was cheery and bright on this dreary day. However, we both wondered what the ambiance would be like in the evening, would it be intimate and cozy?
Unfortunately for Greg, on this particular day there was no gas for the draughts, of which the list is disappointingly limited to only two (Beaus Lug Tread Lagered Ale and Steamwhistle Pilsner). Our server suggested a bottled lager called Czechvar (I’m sure you can guess where it’s from), which Greg had never tried before and described as “light, refreshing and tasty”.
At lunch you can order two plates for only $20, the tough part is choosing which ones from a menu that changes regularly. I knew Greg would order the grilled hanger steak with mushrooms, frites and garlic aioli, and he paired it with the roasted beets with goat cheese, pickled red onion and truffled leek.
I had a harder time deciding, everything was so tempting. I started with the local mushrooms on toast with Beaus rarebit and thyme, and my second plate was beef tartar with dijon, bacon aioli and chips.
Greg enjoyed both his dishes tremendously. The beets were firm and tangy, perfect beside the richness of the goat cheeses. He was equally pleased with his second dish; the generous portion of frites were delicious you hardly needed the aioli for dipping, and the hanger steak was grilled to a medium-rare perfection.
I loved my first dish of local mushrooms on toast. It doesn’t take much though, as I have a deep admiration for fungi, put mushrooms on anything and I’ll eat it. I don’t eat beef tartar often, I’m definitely not an expert, so for an amateur I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it and I’m not sure why. The look, the texture, the idea of eating raw meat didn’t bother me. The only thing I could really taste was the dijon.
The idea of small plates can be a little deceiving, neither one of us felt hungry after our meals, but we also didn’t feel too full. I think we would love the opportunity to come back and play, perhaps in the evening with friends. ~kM
Be sure to check out wine director and service manager at Play Food & Wine, Grayson McDiarmid’s Wine Blog.