We read about John Gray’s Place on Rick Bayless’s website, as well as several others. It’s known as one of the more upscale places in Playa with contemporary food, which was the perfect thing last night, now that we’ve had enough Mexican food.

Through a window, you can see the kitchen, which is nice and clean. Most of the inside is dim, furnished with a dark wood, so we chose outdoor seating, where lights on trees and the nearby stores brightened our table just a bit. Some toasted bread with cilantro pesto is offered as you wait, outer pieces being crunchy and crouton-like, inside pieces a bit softer.

bread with cilantro pesto

I chose to start with Portobellos and Escargot, which were tender and garlicky, but the flavor of the portobellos dominated, with the overall flavor being pretty flat. It seemed to desperately need a touch of acid.

escargot and portobellos

Lon chose the Pate with Onion Marmalade. The whole ramekin full of pate, an obscenely large portion, was very forgettable and the red wine of the marmalade was way too strong.

pate with onion marmalade

At this point we thought there was no hope, since 99% of the time, appetizers are better than entrees, but here’s that 1% of the time. The entrees were better. I ordered the duck breast, a perfect medium-rare, over sweet potato mash and al dente string beans, with a honey tequila sauce. To be picky, I have to point out that the sweet potato mash is sweet as well as the honey tequila sauce, which adds up to just too much sweetness, but otherwise, it was good.

duck breast with tequila honey sauce

Lon’s lamb chops were also cooked perfectly, juicy and pink, on a bed of fantastic slaw. There was some nice heat in the sauce, reminding me a little of fancy barbecue. Both meat portions were really large and we took notice of the good quality used, by cleaning the plates.

lamb chops 1

We also ordered a side of Creamy Spinach with Bacon, which seemed to be just wilted by the hot creamy sauce. It came out without the bacon so we had to remind them that the dish included bacon. (Actually the waitress first came out to tell us that we were mistaken, but then we looked at the menu, and sure enough it says, “Creamy Spinach with Bacon”)

creamy spinach creamy spinach with bacon

We were full but Lon was enticed by the Banana Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and drizzled honey. It turns out to be just an average banana bread though.

banana cake with vanilla ice cream and honey

For Playa, John Gray’s Place is relatively upscale, but in a major city, it would be considered more moderate, for service, food and price (1285 pesos or around USD $90 including tip). There were high points and low points so you’ll have to pick carefully.

*note: There’s a John Gray’s Kitchen in Puerto Morelos.

posted by jessica at 02:09 PM Filed under Fusion or Mixed, Restaurants, Travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.