Fable & Spirit will debut on the Newport Peninsula Tuesday, June 11th. The restaurant is the 3rd for husband-and-wife team Darren and Jean Coyle, who gave us Dublin 4 Gastropub and Wineworks for Everyone to Orange County. Their newest establishment celebrates the Spirit and heritage of the Irish people, the setting will share the many Fables of Mythological Ireland, complete with heroes, queens and goddesses. With a menu curated by Executive Chef David Shofner, this sophisticated and captivating neighborhood restaurant presents a high energy, yet refined dining experience and setting that plays into Irish fairytale whimsy.
“My dream is for Fable & Spirit to become that favorite neighborhood restaurant known for its imaginative, progressive and delicious from-scratch signature food and drink creations. I want our guests to thoroughly enjoy the best that life has to offer with their friends and family,” comments Darren Coyle, who draws from his own upbringing in County Mayo and Dublin 4, Ireland. “When our guests pass through the Georgian gold-colored Dublin Door, they will be warmly welcomed and introduced to some of the best of food, drink and good times that Orange County has to offer. While our kitchen and bar take a serious approach to all things culinary and craft, we want to share the spirit and magic of our rich Irish heritage.”
The Fable & Spirit culinary team is led by Executive Chef David Shofner, who has earned much praise for his role as Executive Chef of Dublin 4 Gastropub, where he has been since its opening in 2012. Chef Shofner simultaneously elevated the already popular menu at Wineworks for Everyone, incorporating his culinary expertise and modern twists of flavor into classic French-inspired favorites.
According to Chef Shofner, the menu at Fable & Spirit is the culmination of his career to date, reflecting his experience and style. Chef Shofner utilizes French technique as the backbone to his cooking, and each of his curations is meticulously designed, carefully sourced and ultimately developed into plated perfection. Chef Shofner is accustomed to using the finest, freshest and most flavorful ingredients available, whether from land or water. Guests will have the opportunity to watch his team in action through a strikingly designed visible kitchen, which highlights transparency to the diner.
“The word ‘Fable’ in the name also refers to ‘Farm-to-Table’ and our menu can best be described as ‘progressive modern’ with familiar aspects,” explains Chef Shofner. “My menu is audience driven, so innovation and relevance will play a prominent role in what is presented.”
As with Dublin 4 Gastropub and Wineworks for Everyone, Chef Shofner will run a ‘from-scratch’ kitchen, making everything from pastas and breads, to bacon and pickles. The Fable & Spirit menus will feature dishes from the rotisserie and a wood-fire grill. At lunch, expect a Rotisserie Porchetta Roll, the result of a three-day process involving brining and marinating, before being finished off in the rotisserie for four hours over oak. Also on the lunch menu is a Smoked Bone-In Shortrib that is smoked, braised, grilled and glazed in-house before being finished in the restaurant’s wood-fire oven.
The dinner menu features an impressive take on Fish and Chips featuring fresh Icelandic Cod flown in fresh on ice, and a Rabbit Fricassee that plays into the name of the restaurant and gives a nod to the Irish Hare. From the wood-fire grill come Santa Barbara Spot Prawns served with sweet corn, pickled shallots, roasted red bell pepper and citrus mojo; as well as Octopus with sofrito, chorizo bilboa, smoked potatoes and padron peppers. The attention to house-made pastas comes through in Chef Shofner’s Beet Agnolotti with chevre espuma, hazelnuts, oak barrel-aged balsamic, lemon and crispy kale; and Cracked Pepper Bucatini with manila clams, pancetta, parmesan and smoke-cured egg yolk.
If the kitchen is the heart of the restaurant, the bar is definitely the soul. According to Irish mythology, a rabbit and a hare differ in that the hare has a soul, and with a portrait of an Irish Hare hanging over the bar, there is sure to be a watchful eye over the craft cocktail program.
Fable & Spirit will present a rich bar program, led by Drew Coyle as Director of Spirits, who focuses on an extensive selection of whiskeys, gins and spirits, and liqueurs to present serious cocktails. These will complement the bar’s more colorful creations, including the pretty-in-pink ‘Friends In High Places’ with Ford’s Gin, Pomp & Whimsy, raspberry syrup, lemon, lavender water and egg white; the Celtic green ‘Morrigan’s Dream’ with Hendrick’s Gin, pressed celery, pineapple, and chartreuse; and a carrot-orange libation, playfully named ‘Hares Looking at You’, with Wheatley Vodka, Canton Ginger, pressed carrot, lemon and basil.
“As important as locally sourced, fresh ingredients are to our kitchen, they are equally important to a perfectly designed cocktail,” emphasizes Drew. “Everything but the spirit is hand squeezed, pressed, or infused in-house daily.”
The wine program will also be of note, with a forward thinking ideology that presents a list with more than just popular wineries, but also lesser-known quality wines. Led by Ali Coyle, a Level 3 Sommelier (WSET) who became intrigued by the world of wine at the age of 17, when her parents opened Wineworks for Everyone.
“For us, it’s about building a culture of trust with our guests – we know it’s a little risky to feature lesser known wines, but it will absolutely encourage diners to step out of their comfort zone to discover something new,” commented Ali, who has spent the past three years as sole wine buyer and coordinator of wine events at her family’s two Mission Viejo restaurants. “My goal is to make everyone feel welcome, while giving them an opportunity to explore and perhaps learn something along the way. Expect Wine Maker Dinners and unique wine events as we head into the Fall.”
The restaurant will feature more than 180 wines by the bottle and an eclectic 40 wines by the glass, ranging in price from an approachable $12 to higher end at $30. Guests will have full view of an impressive 24-bottle temperature controlled, wine preservation Cruvinet system that keeps the wines as fresh as the moment they are uncorked.
Upon entering Fable & Spirit, guests are greeted with a bright Georgian-style "Dublin Door” with a vintage Irish knocker that leads into the 112-seat restaurant, complete with dining room seating and communal tables, as well as bar and patio seating. A focal point is the restaurant’s Snug, a cozy enclosed booth that was traditionally a fixture in pre-1960s Irish pubs.
Fable & Spirit’s impressive bar is balanced by an exhibition kitchen that allows guests to view culinary magic as if it were on the big screen. With its many settings, the restaurant can accommodate a wide variety of guests seeking out a range of experiences. From intimate to larger parties, there is a backdrop for every occasion, including a private dining opportunity for groups in a semi-private setting.
Fable & Spirit is located at 3441 Via Lido in Newport Beach. Beginning Tuesday, June 11th, the restaurant will be open for Lunch and Dinner, with Brunch service to be introduced in the coming weeks. For more information about the restaurant menu, hours and reservations, please visit www.fableandspirit.com.