PLAY FOOD AND WINE
A creation of Stephen Beckta, one of Ottawa’s best-known names in fine dining, Play is the happy-go-lucky younger sibling to the more serious Beckta.
Anchored in a heritage building at Sussex and York, Play’s big windows make the space gracious without being grandiose. And despite the name, there is no false cheeriness or cheeky familiarity from wait staff: servers ask about allergies and accessibility issues, competently answer questions about the menu, and offer advice about wine pairings. Rather, the playfulness comes in the fun to be had in creating a meal with small plates. Putting local, sustainable produce front and centre, chef Emeric Beccaris makes small plates work, with variety and sensible portions. Described as “full-sized appetizer portions,” the offerings give a nod to trends, with selections like grilled halloumi with pomegranate seeds and, for dessert, a lavender panna cotta.
But Play also respects the classics with a simple celery soup made special with green apple and drops of golden scallion vinaigrette, a silky duck-liver mousse with cherry molasses, and grilled rainbow trout with shrimp in a luscious cream sauce with spicy nduja sausage.
Even housed within a historic stone building, this restaurant has a lightness — a playfulness — that makes it stand out among its peers.