At golden hour, the sun shines through the bar and dining room of lthe Mayor’s Table Pacific Pub & Kitchen just as it does in the scene in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark in which light beams onto the treasure. When it hits my cosmo, the clear cocktail mysteriously turns from blue to pink, then purple, the color wheel pointing the way to the glass-enclosed kitchen.
Although the technique of using butterfly pea flower tea in a cocktail to create a rainbow effect isn’t new, I haven’t seen it performed so well. By freezing the tea, it slows down the magic to the rate of a long-form David Copperfield bit. And when mixed with an acid (such as lemon or lime), it makes the color change into something spectacular.
Mayor’s Table is located in the Lido House Hotel, which is yachty and super-seaside swanky. It’s the type of place in which I wouldn’t be surprised to see Daryl Hall and John Oats casually sitting at the bar, sipping custom Piper-Heidsieck Champagne, their pinkies up, while having a laugh, or even lounging at the pool just outside the window and humming their smash hit “Maneater.” And the Newport Beach City Hall once sat in the restaurant’s space. . . . I wonder if they found any treasures during the excavation.
Executive chef/partner Riley Huddleston and executive chef Janine Falvo can be seen behind the windows, firing dishes and micro-tweezing finishing touches as plates are delivered. The culinary term mise en place(“everything in its place”) is employed behind the scenes, and plating dishes at the restaurant seems to take on that same ethos. They are minimal and thoughtfully balanced with not only colors, but also flavor intensity, portion sizes and aromas.
Take, for example, the warm lobster lettuce cups; bits of the sweet, delicate crustacean are balanced with caviar-like finger limes and a kick of smoke from a well-placed roe. Then there’s a simple charcuterie and house pickle spread that is possibly the most romantic date-night meat-and-purple-veggies-plate ever; in the middle burns a lard candle that is also delicious when dredged with the accompanying charred, spongy bread.
The ingenuity continues with simple, pan-seared scallops that burst with brightness from a Meyer lemon compound butter; they’re served atop satisfying latkes that would make my Polish busha proud.
There’s plenty to explore in the bar program, which includes a well-curated beer list that offers collaborations with the likes of Stone Brewing and Bottle Logic’s epic Fundamental Observation. There’s even a house Champagne for which Huddleston flew to France to hand-select an exact blend. Pair it with the lobster cups to create your own treasured find.
Mayor’s Table Pacific Pub & Kitchen, inside the Lido House Hotel, 3300 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 662-6160; lidohousehotel.com.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfesthappening on June 29th in Anaheim!