If you’re reading this, I’m so happy. It means that you want to take this adventure with me. Being a private chef, people always ask me about food and where I like to eat. I’ve been a personal chef in the Orange County/Newport Beach area for over 13 years and have been fortunate to eat at a variety of restaurants.
Ironically, we struggle with quality restaurants living in Orange County. No, we don’t live in a rural area, but we’re not New York City where there are amazing restaurants at every corner. Therefore, when a new restaurant comes into town, I get so excited! I’m happy to share one of my new favorites: Fable & Spirit at the base of the Newport peninsula.
My husband and I went there for lunch last week (I believe they had only been open about a week at that point) and we had such an amazing time. The restaurant was beautifully done. It was simple, yet elegant. Being that it was a nice spring day, we called it a “working lunch” and decided to have a glass of wine with our meal. I predominantly like reds and am a huge fan of Cabernet Francs, which you don’t see on the menu very often. Fable & Spirit had one by the glass so I asked the waitress to taste it. When she came back with the taster, I was very confused because it was very light in color (almost no color), so I asked “is this the cab franc?” She said yes, “it’s the sparkling one - is that not the one you wanted?” To her defense, it was a beautiful day and most normal people (I am not normal) would drink a lighter chilled wine mid-day. She apologized (not needed!) and went to grab a taster of the red Cab Franc. When she came back to ask how I liked it, I laughed and said, I liked her choice better!
Once that we got settled in with our drinks, we took some time to browse the menu. I always like to try as much as I can when I first visit a new restaurant and they had so many great sounding items to choose from. We stuck with mostly small plates and one vegetable. First came the potato boxty dumplings and the brussel sprouts. The dumplings were served with hedgehog mushrooms and a garlic scapes, baley hazen blue sauce. OMG! They were so decadent, velvety smooth and creamy. They were filling, yet not overwhelming. The brussel sprouts were served with house smoked bacon and tossed in a bourbon barrel aged maple syrup, a touch of Dijon and some citrus zest. These were not my mother’s brussel Sprouts… these were amazing! (sorry mom).
Next came the wood fried octopus and kona kampachi crudo. The octopus was paired with sofrito, chorizo bilboa, smoked potatoes and pardon peppers. The octopus was perfectly cooked and so tender. All the flavors complemented one another. What wasn’t listed was this meyer lemon, butter sauce the chef drizzled over the peppers. I was sad I ate the peppers last because this butter sauce was so delicious I probably would’ve asked for some on the side and quite possibly drank it!
We sat at a two top where my seat faced the bar. One thing that kept catching my eye was one of the bartenders was cooking something over a single counter top burner in a skillet. I had never seen this before – especially since cooking is for the kitchen, not the bar! I had to ask our waitress if I was seeing correctly and she said “yes, (with an excited tone) we make all of our juices and garnishes fresh and I believe he is caramelizing pineapple for one of our drinks.” Wow… this restaurant keeps taking things to the next level. I’m so impressed.
Lunch was perfect, so much so that when both of my kids ended up at a birthday party the upcoming weekend, my husband and I decided to take advantage and go out for an early dinner. Our intent was to start at Fable & Spirit for a drink and a small bite and then wander around Lido. Honestly, I had been craving my new favorite sparkling wine again. Typically, I take pictures or get the names of wines that I like, but at lunch I was just so involved in the newness of the restaurant that I didn’t get a chance. Finally I was able to get the name of the wine - Pierre and Bernard Rose Cremant de Loire, France NV.
We wanted something really light to start our night, so we got the citrus salad. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t my favorite. I’m not a huge fan of fricassee or radicchio lettuce, so that’s my fault for not asking. I did enjoy the dressing, the spiced avocado, goat cheese and crispy quinoa paired with the citruses though. For those fans of these lettuces, you’ll probably enjoy it all! We were sitting close to the patio and a couple of our friends spied us while they were walking by and came in to chat, which lead to a drink, which lead to more drinks and so of course we needed to eat. Twist my arm! I did switch to my “go to” drink, a Cabernet Sauvignon, though. I tried the William Harrison from Rutherford Napa, 2015-which since I took a picture, you know I liked it!
For our food we stuck to the small plates again, as this allowed us to try more options. We got the Guinness Brown Bread, Mangalista pork belly, the wood fired pizetta with duck confit and we loved the dumplings so much we had to get them again! Honestly, I loved it all again! Each plate was perfectly balanced with flavor and my mouth was in heaven. Our bartender and server Silvia was super helpful and fun. Honestly, I can’t wait to go back to try more!