When the temperature rises in the hinterlands of Orange County, residents often pack their beach gear and head to the cooler coastal areas. But even closer, lies the cool confines of a classy pub called Macallan’s where one can escape and refresh with a lovely taste of summer in hand.
Macallans Public House in Brea is spot on with every aspect of a modern pub. The food successfully combines modern-creative and traditional pub styles of cooking. The ambiance rises above simply comfortable and convivial with artful touches, an impressive wooden bar against a gleaming emerald mosaic backdrop, and a centerpiece glass display of glowing amber spirits hinting at the surprises within.
With an expert culinary team led by Executive Chef Roman Jimenez along with Bar Manager Paul Piane creating complementary seasonal libations, your idea of pub fare will be forever changed.
Executive Chef Roman Jimenez
The tasting opened with Miss June ’75 greeting us upon arrival. Piane’s take on the classic French 75 and, like its predecessor, Miss June ’75 is bright and bubbly – with gin, cantaloupe, lemon, and a dash of Chareau Aloe liqueur – gotta love a cocktail with healing properties.
Keeping it light and bright, Macallans’ Ham & Cheese is accompanied by a generous pile of baby arugula and stone fruit napped in a bourbon vinaigrette that absolutely made the dish for me. While the bread to cheese ratio of the sandwich appears disproportionate, the thick slices of brioche provides a nice balance to the rich burrata and salty cured pork.
A cocktail of silver rum and watermelon – summer’s quintessential thirst quencher – is the perfect pairing for the Ham & Cheese. Piane’s Watermelon Cooler aka Gallagher’s Mallet cocktail– remember him? crazy-haired, aloha shirt, smashing watermelon guy – is enhanced by an allspice dram, basil syrup and lime, is absolutely smashing! Pun intended.
For these dog days of summer, Chef Jimenez has introduced a few seasonal dishes that reflect summer’s bounty, like the Shrimps & Corn – a farmers market riff on Southern favorite Shrimp & Grits with an abundance of vibrant color, bold flavor and textural interest which, hopefully, will result in a permanent spot on the menu.
Flash-cooked sweet corn retains a bit of crispness and is the perfect foil for chicken-fried shrimp and bacon lardons. Served in a cast iron skillet, a tangle of pickled Fresno salad offers acid and a touch of heat crowns this deliciously summery Southern-inspired dish.
When temps soar and the air is heavy, cocktails like the bourbon-based Lavender Silver Sour are in order. Based on a fizz recipe with its egg white and lemon components, honey and lavender add a sweet and floral dimension that conjures images of languishing under weeping willows or lazy afternoons on the veranda.
It’s only apropos to end on a sweet note: the 3AM French Toast was hearty and robust yet light and fluffy at the same time. How is that possible? Thick slices of brioche are brushed with a sweet orange marmalade with chunks of coffee rubbed, maple glazed, melt-in-your-mouth pork cheeks topped alongside fluffy scrambled eggs. Do not miss this dish! It is also featured on Macallans Sunday Brunch menu. The Macallans Bloody Mary is a potent potable of blended scotch, vodka and Guinness, tomato, basil, lime, pepper, steak sauce and hot sauce, garnished by the kitchen with a mac ‘n cheese bomb and veggies.
Pub staples like Fish & Chips, Bangers & Mash, and Shepherd’s Pie are always on the menu. A trifecta of these Irish specialties were delivered to our table along with tastings of, what else, Guinness. In this case, Guinness Black, which is Guinness sweetened with a bit of blackberry liqueur (crème de cassis) which tempers the bitterness that follows the coffee, chocolate, malty flavors in Guinness. Adding a finger or two of crème de cassis to a glass and filling it with the life blood of Ireland, will likely convert any skeptic.
Bar Manager Paul Piane
The Fish & Chips are fabulously crispy and crunchy lager-battered Alaskan True cod. For the tasting the battered cod was presented in nugget-size pieces with a pipette of cider vinegar for an eye-catching presentation. A regular order consists of a generous plank of battered fish along with creamy cole slaw, potato wedges, and house made tartar sauce. With Bangers & Mash are two charred bangers (aka sausages) Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and onion gravy is a medley of homey flavors that tantalize your taste buds and pairs perfectly with an Irish Red or Guinness.
I’ve sang the praises of Macallans Shepherd’s Pie before, and consistency reigns – it’s as comforting and delicious as ever. Chef Roman’s Shepherd’s Pie of braised ground beef and lamb, onions, peas, carrots crowned with a tangle of crispy parsnips, is the best I’ve ever had. No kidding. And the crispy parsnips added a delightful textural element and crunch that makes every bite of this comfort food favorite even better. For photos of full-size servings, you can refer to my previous post.
Scrumptious Milk & Cookies (Heath bar crunch cookies with vanilla ice cream – both house made) and Alexander cocktails were a sweet finale to a most pleasurable repast. An Alexander cocktail predates the better known Brandy Alexander. It is a classic cocktail of gin, white crème de cacao, light cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg and an utterly delectable dessert in itself.
So take a break from the heat and treat yourself to one (or two) of Paul Piane’s creative, chilled libations and share a few of Chef Roman Jimenez’s mouthwatering, soul satisfying dishes.
330 W. Birch St
Brea, CA 92821