Play Food and Wine
Play Food and Wine
Play Food and Wine
Play Food and Wine
Play Food and Wine
Play Food and Wine
Dessert at Play Food and Wine
Dessert at Play Food and Wine
Play Food and Wine
Play Food and Wine
Play Food and Wine
Play Food and Wine
Play Food and Wine
Play Food and Wine
Play Food and Wine
Foods from Play Food and Wine

2011 Mar 20
Visited PLAY with my husband and one other couple. We ordered two dishes per person (8 total) as the server had suggested, plus one side dish and this proved to be just about the perfect amount of food. We were all very full.

Our eight plates were presented to us in two courses. First up was:

- mushroom toasts
- scallops
- beet and goat cheese salad
- mussels

Mushroom toasts were toasted perfectly. Not too much so you weren't struggling to bite into one. We were served four. I believe this is a mixture of different mushrooms on baguette.

The scallops were seared (on one side) to perfection with a sweet finish and the server was attentive to our dining experience and made sure we were served four scallops on the plate so each person could try one, instead of the three that are normally served.

I am also a sucker for the beet and chevre combination so I couldn't pass up the salad. It was nicely plated, with pickled onions and some greens. Very nice.

I can't say much about the mussels as I don't often have them but I did find these quite good. The sauce was delicious and there was some cheese sprinkled in and they were served on some potatoes.

For the second round, we had chosen the following:

- gnocchi with a mushroom cream sauce and edamame
- pork belly with cranberries
- pickerel
- hanger steak with fries
- a side of brussels sprouts with bacon

The gnocchi were among my favourite of the night. Perfectly cooked, not too mushy, they went beautifully with the texture of the edamame and looked really good too, I might add. The mushroom sauce is a classic for gnocchi but it always suckers me in.

Hubby and I found the pork belly not crispy enough. It was an interesting pairing with the cranberries and what I believe was a carrot purée but the meat itself wasn't our favourite and we have enjoyed it before at other places.

The hanger steak was one of the top dishes. It's marinated in an asian-inspired sauce so it comes out looking dark even though we had ours med-rare, but it's mouthwateringly good. Salivating just thinking about this now. It comes with the house frites and some mayo dipping sauce. A little bonus as you get a side right on the plate.

Pickerel was quite rich. The sauce was buttery and the fish was crispy on one side.

One of our favourite things here is the sides that PLAY does. The brussels sprouts with the bacon are to die for and we have ordered seconds in past (although not this time as we had too much food already). Everyone at the table loved these.

Service is exceptional and attentive. We brought our own bottle of wine ($15 corkage). Atmosphere is not stuffy and relaxed yet professional.

Total, about $50/person. That's for 8 main plates, one side dish, two glasses of wine, two coffees and the corkage.

Again, BIG THUMBS UP!!! Love this place.

2011 Mar 10
I went here back on New Year's Eve (thought I had posted a review since-- apparently not) on a reservation organized through this site itself with Steve Beckta after he answered a call in the forums for NYE dinner suggestions. He was really helpful in setting it up, including letting me know about the vegetarian options + menu for the night as soon as they were available; the good service began before we had walked in the door.

Play was going to be the nicest (and priciest) meal we've had together.. so we had high hopes.
Right off the bat-- we were handed the vegetarian menu once we let the host/hostess know of our reservation. Being offered it rather than having to ask for it may seem like a tiny thing, but we really appreciated the thought.

To the food-- I began with ricotta gnudi with mushrooms, rosemary figs, and brown butter. I had never had gnudi before, so I can't make any relative judgments-- can only say that it was awesome. Great crispness on the outside, firm and palatable texture on the inside, and the flavours from the garnishes were spot on. My partner had it too and felt the same way. I'm getting nostalgic just writing about it.. would love to have it again.

For the main, I had the beef strip loin with mustard seed spaetzle, mushrooms, wilted spinach, and caramelized onion sauce. It was one of the best-tasting cuts of meat I've had in town, and was cooked to medium-rare perfection. Loved the spaetzle (the texture made it) dropped around the plate too.
Partner had veg entree of moroccan spiced lentils with cashew butter, dried apricots, and swiss chard. They were alright-- we weren't as blown away or excited about them as we were the other parts of the meal. They may have been a little dry, and could have used a touch more flavour for our tastes. But don't get me wrong-- still very nice.

For dessert, partner had opera cake and I had a white chocolate pistachio tart. Both were good.. we liked the tart most. As we enjoyed, we were surprised how full we were from the 2 dishes that came before-- none looked particularly large, but portion sizes were definitely enough.

Service and experience was really nice-- casual/trendy/industrial atmosphere, though kind of quiet for NYE I thought. Our server helped pair a wine with the gnudi, which we appreciated as much as we could without having any real knowledge/expertise on the subject.

As expected, it was one of the most expensive meals I've paid for (which isn't saying too much, maybe?)-- the bill came to about $160 for 3 courses each + 1 glass of wine + tip-- but absolutely worth it. Lots of new things and new tastes that we talked/raved about for the rest of the night. We'd definitely return for another occasion, and have recommended it plenty since our visit.

2010 Nov 21
Made another trip to Play last night - it had been a couple of months. There were a few new items on the menu - a fish taco that was wonderful, and a burger that we didn't try but it sounded like a fun play on the original. As well, the preparations for several things were updated from the last time we went. Everything was, once again, delicious. The servers were absolutely on their game. Altogether, another thoroughly enjoyable evening at a terrific restaurant.

2010 Oct 31
Checked out "PLAY" last night with a small group of friends for a new experience. I heard good things about this little spot and curiosity got the best of me.

Located on 1 York Street, this spot holds intrigue for foodies like me - who love to try bite sized treats for a reasonable price.

When you walk into this spot, the architecture is noticed right off the bat - it reminded me of cafes I've been to in New York or Montreal (just a little more casual however). Greeted by the first floor (thinking it was tiny and wouldn't be able to accommodate us on a busy Saturday night) - we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the loft style staircase leads us to Play's 2nd floor where we were seated.

The decor is simple, intimate and casual...and the food matches that, as well as the name of the restaurant very well.

The most important thing to know about this place is that every plate is of appetizer proportion. If you are really hungry you must at least order 2 plates.

The menu is actually really fun and I really want to find myself back at this spot more than a few times :)

How many times have you really wanted to just get out of the house but your not really hungry? This place is PERFECT for those occasions! Its a great place to go on a date or socialize with your friends over wine and a few delicious nibbles! You could even go for dinner - just combine a few plates to create a satisfying meal!

Check out their menu: (

The plates range from $8 - $19

They have an extensive wine list and cheese plates too!

Visit Play at 1 York Street 613 667 9207

Bon Appetit!


2010 Oct 17
My partner and I tried Play last weekend for the first time. I've been wanting to eat here for some time, so I was pretty excited. I wasn't disappointed!
Before we even had a chance to order, a server accidentally brought our table an order of frites with aioli, which was the best mistake ever. They were really delicious and perfectly seasoned; I would make a trip back just for these.
I chose to have the grilled romaine with watermelon, beets and goat cheese and the pumpkin gnocchi for my plates. The grilled romaine was interesting and I specifically appreciated the generous amount of goat cheese that came with it. I liked that the romaine was still crisp but had a nice charred taste to it from the grill, but I thought that what would have sent this dish to the next level for me was if the watermelon was grilled as well - I love grilled watermelon.
No complaints whatsoever with the pumpkin gnocchi. The gnocchi were soft and delicious, the mushrooms delicious, and the brown butter sauce used was possibly laden with crack cocaine.
I would definitely re-visit Play. The food exceeded my expectations and the service was great!

2010 Oct 16

When Josh Greenberg, a Professor of Communication Studies at Carleton, and his wife celebrated their wedding anniversary at Play Food & Wine, he placed a comment on the restaurant’s facebook page the next day. At 3:33 p.m. he wrote, “…cheese plate was delightful, the scallops best ever and I’d come back just for the chocolate pate. Terrific service — helpful and attentive. Thanks!”

At 4:39 p.m. the following comment appeared: “Really glad you enjoyed it Josh. Don’t worry, the chocolate pate will be around for a bit, in one form or another. Hope to see you before your next anniversary. —Grayson”

Grayson McDiarmid is Play’s sommelier and wine director. He is also the restaurant’s de facto social media guru in charge of its facebook page and twitter account. When Greenberg decided to return to Play a few weeks later with some colleagues, he tweeted his intentions en route. Meanwhile McDiarmid, who continuously monitors the restaurants tweets on his iPhone and various macbooks around the restaurant, recognized Greenberg from his facebook photo from their last exchange. McDiarmid approached Greenberg’s table, introduced himself and thanked him for the tweet.

“I thought it was clever,” says Greenberg, “It showed an interesting approach to customer engagement. It’s nice to see a business using twitter properly.” According to Greenberg, who studies social media in an academic context, Play is among a growing number of restaurants and food business around town that are using social media to reach out and connect with customers. But too often it’s just about broadcasting news and information, rather than interaction, he says. Social media is the modern version of word-of-mouth —but amplified many times over. As of this week, Play has 719 Twitter followers. That’s a lot more powerful from a marketing perspective than the way people used to share their experiences: gabbing around the water cooler.

McDiarmid posts funny pictures, new wines, and menu ideas — often giving sneak previews to its online followers. “It’s a fun connection with our guests. They feel special,” he says.

When Greenberg returned home after that second evening at Play, he found this note on his facebook page: “Great to meet you tonight Josh, glad you and the ladies enjoyed yourselves and we look forward to the next time!”

2010 Sep 9
Hi Momomoto: Thanks so much for the great comments on our hanger steak. Glad that you liked it! It's a personal favourite of mine as well. our marinade has been the same since we opened. It's not teryaki, but some elements are the same. There is some soy, ginger, garlic, chili, mirin, some other special ingredients (and of course, lots of love).

Look forward to having you in again when you need another trip down memory lane.


Steve Beckta

2010 Sep 9
OK, dumb question: has the steak in the hanger steak frites always been marinated in teriyaki?

If it has been, why didn't anybody mention it earlier? I would have ordered it way before my sixth or seventh visit.

It took me back to my youth: my parents make a really delicious teriyaki-marinated flank steak, but the times they make it now are few and far between.

Play's offering is like an upscale version of that. I couldn't be happier.

2010 Aug 7
Dined at Play last night with a group of six. This is my fourth visit to Play, and I must say the reason I came back a fourth time was because I admire Stephen Beckta's cuisine. My first impression over a year ago was that the food was good and well presented, but I was not a fan of the decor. Found the baby blue walls and black furniture unappetizing. Just a personal opinion. As well, I was struggling with the small plates concept. I found some plates were easily shared and others not. Small plates that are not easily divisible can really only be shared with an intimate dining companion. It is more awkward to say to your boss "Can I have this last shrimp or do you want to cut it in half" for instance.

Anyways, last night at Play, they offered a new option that they never presented before. Our waitress (who was exceptional, friendly, knowledgeable about both the food and the wine, on the ball, and happened to have amazing green eyes) said you can choose, OR we can feed you. Sold! And feed us they did, plate after plate of beautifully plated food which they made sharable into six easily shared portions. We got to try most of the menu. The hangar steak, scallops, trout, steak tartare, and pork belly deserve special note. I would give the salmon a miss next time as it was dry and overcooked. We moved on to a cheese plate ( which had an amazing and powerful blue that was not for the beginner), then desserts and port. Our waitress was very good at observing and making sure we had enough but not to much. There was so much food I was worried about the bill. I was shocked that with wine and cocktails the bill was less than $75 per person.

Letting the restaurant feed us was a great way to experience their offerings in a small plates setting, especially with a large group.

2010 Jul 12
We enjoyed another lovely evening at Play Food and Wine last night. We had two terrific bottles of wine - the Silver Oaks Cabernet that is on the menu, as well as another (I can't remember what it was) that the server found for us "in the back" after concluding from our conversation about that we enjoy fine wines.

We shared four of the small plates - the beef tartare, the wild trout, the grilled romaine, and the hanger steak. All were delicious, and served with the interesting touches that we have come to expect from Play. The trout, for example, was served over a cucumber salad that included capers and almonds - an unusual combination that worked extremely well. The hanger steak is a regular for us, and was once again excellent. My pick of the night, though, was the beef tartare, served with capers, taro chips, spicy dijon, and a bacon aioli. Delicious.

The service was, as usual, friendly and professional.

We'll be back.

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2009 Nov 26
Play's sommelier, Grayson, is the nicest guy. He always goes the extra mile to make us feel welcome, and is extremely adept at providing excellent wine suggestions. He's also quite the comedian, which makes the experience that much more enjoyable.

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Dessert 1



2014 May 9
I had the mini baked alaska a few weeks back, which apparently was on the menu quite some time ago. Glad they brought it back. It was the best dessert I've had at a restaurant in recent memory. Chocolate base with After 8 gelato and covered in a soft and sticky peppermint meringue.

2011 Oct 18
Their creme brulee is basically their signature dish, though it changes with the seasons. The first two times that I went to Play, it was an earl grey creme brulee, and I scraped the ramekin down each time. I've since tried the lavender one...another one...and a cinnamon creme brulee with poached pears. Each was magnificent.

2011 Oct 15
I had the lavender crème brûlée here a few months ago, and honestly... I still dream about it. I'm not even a huge crème brûlée fan, nor even a lover of lavender, but it was FANTASTIC! The flavours were perfectly paired, the dessert itself was creamy and light. GET IT!!!

2009 Jul 13
My friend's pavlova. I tried some and thought it was excellent!

2009 Jul 13
The cookies I ordered for dessert. They were good, but I prefer crispy-chewy cookies. These were very shortbread-y. As Fresh Foodie always says "my problem, not theirs" :)

From left to right - lemon poppyseed, chocolate chunk, lemon sugar.

I'm a big chocoholic as well so wouldn't have complained if there were more chocolate chunks in the chocolate chunk one ;)