While out frolicking in the Byward Market with me mum we decided to skip over to Play on 1 York st. I’ve been oogling the restaurant Play since I got back to Ottawa and haven’t had the opportunity to head in. She has just returned from a month away in Vancouver and is a full blown foodie. She’s a whizz in the kitchen and has passed on that love to her children (me: always eating and/or in pursuit of food, my brother: just signed up for chef school). Anyways back to Play, it was a Tuesday lunch and this place was PACKED. We sat at the bar, which was ok since I like bar sitting as it allows me to check out the cute barten…. I mean the coming and goings ons of the place.
Right on the corner of York and Sussex the restaurant offers up a nice view of the market life. Straight from the horses mouth (to in this case the restaurant website )
“Play is the creation of Stephen Beckta and Chef Michael Moffatt of the renowned Beckta dining & wine.
Our hope is to offer you extraordinary food & wine with fun, value and the same warm hospitality that we have become known for.
Our menu focuses on constantly changing small plates and large selection of wines by-the-glass.“
I love small plate concept restaurant. You know that person that’s ask’s you how your dish is with the sole purpose of wanting pick off your plate and try everything? Yeah that’s me. Small plate allows me to pick off what everyone’s got… and not be shamed for it.
The menu was very tantalizing but in end we settled on the PEI mussels with sake, pear butter, su chou, and shallots and the Albacore tuna tataki with fennel slaw, wasabi peas, and carrot ginger. They have a 2 plates for $22 deal but we were not that hungry and stopped at one each.
I have this thing where I like to spy on other peoples meal as they come out, just check out whats happening you know.
What was happening at Play looked delicious!
Now for the wines. They offer pairings with each dish which I think is nice in a busy environment but sort of takes away a little bit of the conversation at the table. The tuna was paired with Rabl Grüner Veltliner and so we got a glass. It was a nice Grüner not offensive but not wowing either. Went lovely with the tuna dish.
My mussels on the other hand were paired with Pinot Gris. I can fully understand the pairing pear butter/Pinot Gris but I’m an adventurous soul and saw something one the wine list I had never heard of before… enter Zlahtina, Toljanic, Krk, Croatia, ’12.
I asked the busy bartender about a little 411 on this neat guy. Turns out Žlahtina is a Croatian grape that is found on the island of Krk just off the coast of Dalmatia in northwestern Croatia. Most of the vineyards on the island are located inland, away from the coast, in order to avoid the “Bura,” the strong wind that blows throughout the region of Dalmatia.
On the nose it was very simple lemons and a hint of apple. The palate was were this wine was a bit surprising..salty. The simple but elegant lemons and pears followed through on the palate but then this hint of salty-ness came through. I always make sure to taste my wine before I devour my food so the salty factor was un-assisted. It was great and I could instantly think of a ton things I’d love to pair it with… oysters? a thick slab of battered cod or tarakihi? fried chicken?
Isn’t it an interesting coincidence that coastal wines tend to lend themselves to coastal foods? Needless to say it didn’t mesh all that hot with the mussels who were luscious and slightly sweet with the pear butter and sake.
Would I go back to play? Aw shit yeah.
There wine list has many interesting temptations that i’d love to explore. http://www.playfood.ca