Luck of the Irish has nothing to do with the smashing success of our Restaurant of the Year, Fable & Spirit. Yes, the Coyle clan—Darren, Jean, and adult offspring Ali and Drew—embraces the Celtic realm of myths and creatures. But it’s the refined genius of executive chef David Shofner that underlies the menu of captivating California dream cuisine. This is triumph No. 3 for the Coyle-Shofner team, long-beloved in Mission Viejo for Dublin 4 Gastropub and sibling shop WineWorks for Everyone. Shofner brings his culinary finesse, the Coyles bring their innate hospitality, and Lido Village gets a knockout dining destination, no water view necessary.
Despite the wide acclaim, the crowd here has a distinctly local tilt. A new arrival of such caliber within walking distance? It’s a dream we all have, but for Lido residents, it has come true. Snack on warm Guinness brown bread slick with clover honey butter and sip urbane cocktails at the indigo bar. Then head into the dining room, a lush world of teal velvet and gleaming brass that’s evocative and welcoming. Hospitable, well-trained staffers are a refreshing plus, but outstanding meals from a tantalizing menu are the primary attraction. Start with Fairy’s Revenge, a cocktail starring Roku gin, Cochi Americano, and blood orange bitters. Move on to the refined beet agnolotti ennobled by chèvre foam, lemon, hazelnuts, and balsamic, then indulge in smoked bone-in short rib lifted by horseradish gremolata and barbecue jus.
The chef and his stalwart crew are showcased by an expansive window, a welcome improvement on the trend of open, noisy kitchens. You needn’t watch your wood-fired pizetta being assembled to enjoy the duck confit, blistered tomatoes, fontina, and Brussels sprouts leaves on the crisp-chewy crust. Delicate rabbit fricassee satisfies with white meat, baby turnips, and morels. Prime beef fans should consider the grilled ribcap, a luxury cut packed with steak juiciness and flavor oomph. To close, consider Darren’s signature Dublin 4 Irish coffee, a concoction he’s been pouring since childhood. It’s dreamy. Good luck finding better in O.C.
The dining landscape of Newport Beach is pretty much an embarrassment of riches, absent little. But last summer’s arrival of Fable & Spirit brought a practical magic we never imagined. No wonder we are smitten.
“We would talk at the dinner table. All of the kids had amazing ideas to share. That’s what you want—for your children to be better than you. We never would have thought about these things if it hadn’t been for them.”
—Darren and Jean Coyle, on running the business as a family
3441 Via Lido, Newport Beach, 949-409-9913
WAY BACK IN 2010
Fable & Spirit’s location was home to a photography studio, and the restaurant adjacent to it was The Regatta Café.
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