I had been wanting to go to Play Food & Wine for quite a while. They feature a small plates menu that offers a variety of flavours. I like the idea of small plates. I find it really encourages you to take your time with each plate and think about the flavours. Plus, for someone like me who tends to resort to "old standbys", it's easier to venture out of my comfort zone because there is less commitment to any one plate seeing as each person generally orders at least 2 plates and shares with others at the table.
I went with two friends, so we shared 6 plates. Being my mother's daughter, I thought it may not be enough food. But, slowly savouring the food allows your brain enough time to figure out that it's full even though the plates weren't loaded with food.
We started off with a cheese plate and paté. Our waitress informed us that most of the cheeses we selected were available at The House of Cheese. I think I'm going to have to find an excuse to have a wine and cheese at my house.
The cheese plate was a hit. We even had to barter over who got the last portions of cheese. I happily took the rest of the paté, which had a really good, strong mustard.
Mid-way through our first course -- my friend said, "OMG -- that's Brian Adams!" Any attempts to be sophisticated rather than giggling school girls was thrown out the window at that point. Since he was sitting at the table next to us, I reminded my friend, who kept saying his name, of the cocktail party effect (which explains why you can hear your name being spoken across the room, even if you're at a busy cocktail party). So, we calmed down and switched to calling him "BA".
Ok - back to the food. For the next course, we had ricotto gnudi and a chicken panini. The ricotto gnudi was quite good. If I recall correctly, if was on a bed of blended olives, which made the dish quite salty. I haven't had gnudi before. In my mind, I pictured it to be more like gnocchi. But, it reminded me more of a croquette that gnocchi.
By the time the next course came, we were starting to feel pretty full. Thankfully, the shrimp with halloumi portion looked conquerable. Somehow we found room for grilled hanger steak with fries and aioli sauce.
The shrimp was probably the low point of the meal. To start, I wasn't crazy about the appearance of the shrimp. Plus, the combination of halloumi and salt sprinkled on top of the shrimp made it too salty. The hanger steak also had a fair bit of salt on top (you can see it in the pictures). We informed our waitress that we didn't want to send the food back or exchange the dishes, but recommended that they use a lighter hand with the salt, particularly when many of the dishes already contain ingredients that contain a lot of salt (e.g., olives, halloumi).
Interestingly, it is probably the owner's reaction to our comment that makes me want to return to the restaurant in the future. The owner, who is also well-known for Beckta (his other restaurant,) came over to apologize for the oversalting and said that he would inform the kitchen. The waitress also informed us that we would not be charged for our last course and that the owner would like to offer each one of us a free dessert.
We were already really full, but how can you pass up complimentary dessert?
Overall, we enjoyed the food. I'm looking forward to going back, for the interesting food combinations, good vibe (industrial, modern and hip) and great service.