Best New Restaurant - 2012
When the menu stops changing daily, when the controversial chalkboard proclamations of "If you want your meat well-done, bring it with you" is erased, that's when you'll know Jason Quinn has lost his edge, his ballsy confidence, his passion—everything that has made the winner of the second season of The Great Food Truck Race the toast of foodies and the subject of gushing such as this. Playground, the restaurant he opened with his share of the Food Network winnings, is already infamous for the incident in which Quinn told a Yelp critic to "burn in hell." Young, brash and in control, the chef isn't about to let anyone tell him how to run his restaurant, how to cook his burgers, or how he can't levy a mandatory 3 percent "kitchen surcharge" to reward his fellow cooks with some well-deserved pocket change. Get the burger that Yelp reviewer railed over, the one Quinn refuses to sear warmer than medium-rare: it's the bloodiest in all of OC, more akin to steak tartare and Ethiopian kitfo than an In-N-Out Double Double. Since it's as light as sushi and doesn't feel greasy despite all the dribbling juices, you end up not chewing, but inhaling the thing as though it were beefy air. It's pointless to talk about the other dishes because what's there now won't be there tomorrow. Not even Nostradamus can predict what Quinn has planned for tonight's dinner.