Play.

Easily, one of my favourite places in the city for food or drink, I absolutely LOVE going back to Play. My first Play experience was on my first date with Niko, and we’ve been coming back ever since. Their menus are ever-changing, unique and always delicious! As part of their philosophy, the folks at Play try to “use local, sustainable and seasonal products where possible, and believe in supporting area farmers” as much as they can. Amazing food while supporting the local economy? Win-win. The menu features larger-than-your-average small plates, cheese, charcuterie and a large selection of wine. For a deal, (who can ever turn down a deal?), they offer 2 for $20 plates during lunch hours (noon -2pm), so your wallets can rest easy!

Last weekend, we came to celebrate a belated Valentine’s Day lunch at our usual table, yup – we have our own table ; ) There are a couple of things we always order, but we also like to try a couple of new items each time we’re there. We usually order 4 plates, which is a good amount between us two. Here’s what we had that day…

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For the occasion, we each ordered a glass of sparking wine, he had the Cava, Conde de Caralt and I had the Rosé Brut, Château Gaudrelle, which I loved – not very dry, and fruity – but was sadly informed that it is no longer available in Canada : ( But we were lucky enough to enjoy the last bottle that day!

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The dishes come two at a time. First up was the Lamb Rilette (which is similar to pâté), served with polenta, sun-dried tomato and almond. This was a new plate for us and though it wasn’t the prettiest of plates, not surprisingly, it did not disappoint in the taste category. The polenta was soft and creamy, and gave a nice texture to the sun-dried tomato and rilette. I really enjoyed this one!

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The Tuna Tataki came with the rilette, Niko really liked this one – half of it was nearly gone before I got a bite! Sometimes it’s hard sharing…lol. The tataki was served with edamame, sesame, soy, fennel-orange and crispy yam chips. It was also really good, the flavours were nice and light, the tuna was seared perfectly – but the rilette won this round for me.

The next two plates are cult favourites for us, the Pork Belly and their Hangar Steak. We always order these two when come.

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The pork belly plate always changes – so we never feel too guilty about ordering this one because it’s always like we’re trying a new plate. This time, it was served with sweet potato, kimchi and candied pecans. For those who know me, I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to spicy foods. I want to love them, but my taste buds disagree…sometimes even pepper can be too spicy o_O let alone kimchi! But I was able to manage this kimchi fairly well, the candied pecans and sweet potato balanced it out quite nicely for me. You can never go wrong with the pork belly – which is always delicious, but…it wasn’t my favourite version of the staple plate.

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Now this plate – literally never disappoints. It’s served on a bed of mushrooms, with frites and aioli. Simple, but cooked to perfection! It’s mouth-wateringly delicious. There’s really nothing else I can say about it. If you find yourself here – definitely try this one!

Normally, we’re pretty full by this point, but that day, we did manage to save room for dessert!

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And dessert was their Dark Rum Panna Cotta topped with a grilled pineapple and pistachio pavlova. It was a first for both of us, having panna cotta that is, (more or less the Italian version of Crème brûléeminus the brûlée part). It was really good – I especially liked the pavlova.

Like I said at the beginning – easily one of my favourite places in Ottawa. Not only is the food to-die for, but we love Play for the atmosphere too! Since we like to come for lunch, the place is always light and airy, and there’s always some really fun and eclectic music playing in the background. The staff are always great! Friendly and knowledgeable, feel free to ask questions and recommendations from them!

I hope you’re not all too hungry from this post! I’m still working away at those pictures, which I hope to finish up soon. So for now, it’s food for thought ; )

Laura XO

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