June 13, 2021
By Laura Holloway
BLUE MOUNTAIN BEACH – Anyone who has sampled the mouthwatering fares of Cowgirl Kitchen rejoiced at the creation of the latest Nikki Nickerson spot on 30A: Blue Mabel, a restaurant named for a famous rodeo cowgirl and loved for its funky atmosphere and comforting, savory cuisine.
“We treat our customers the way we would want when we go out for the evening: like family when you walk in the door.” – Michael McIntosh, general manager
Mabel Strickland was queen of the rodeo circuit for more than two decades starting in 1916. Known for being gentle and kind with those she loved, she was also known for her steer-roping, calf-pinning, and trick-riding skills. Blue Mabel’s menu is just as unexpected and exciting. And Blue Mountain Beach (the restaurant’s beloved home community) may be known as the quieter side of 30A, but the flavors leaping off the plate at Blue Mabel are anything but.
“What I really love about Blue Mabel is our concept,” explained Executive Chef David Cunningham. “We are a smokehouse – not a BBQ restaurant – and we really want to feature wood-fired seafood and meats, as well as vegetables, in a unique way that brings flavor and something new to our customers. We do some classic barbecue items and we are very well known for our brisket sandwiches, but we also try to incorporate those smokehouse flavors into everything we do.”
Cunningham’s culinary roots are Cajun, growing up in Louisiana and developing his cooking style in New Orleans. “I draw a lot of my inspiration from that period in my life. I am also pretty passionate about BBQ. It started as a hobby, then I won some competitions. Now I just love it. With both of these influences I try to come up with interesting ways to prepare new dishes.”
Spices he finds himself reaching for most? “Fresh ground black pepper, Kosher salt and fresh garlic. All food needs seasoning of some sort , but it should be balanced. Most quality products just need to be cooked properly to bring out the flavor.”
And flavor is the operative word when considering the Blue Mabel menu. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and offers such sumptuous flavors, it makes the meal feel like a true occasion.
“Smalls” selections include Corn Fried Calamari (with charred tomato agrodolce, local greens, smoked garlic aioli, and crisp shishito pickles), Elote Corn Dip (with grilled sweet corn, hatch chiles, cotija, pico de gallo, and house tortilla chips), and Ahi Tuna Tacos (made with citrus caper marinade, smoked paprika crema, napa slaw, and chile oil).
Even the “Greens” are savory and filling, like the Fried Chicken Salad (with onion-crusted chicken tenders, butter lettuce, wood fired peppers, tiny tomatoes, sweet grass Asher blue, pickled sweet onions, and cucumber buttermilk dressing). You can even upgrade any greens to include pulled pork, smoked brisket, grilled shrimp, grilled ribeye, house made crab cake, or the grilled fish of the day.
“Finger Foods” selections include burgers and sandwiches with a Blue Mabel twist, like the Mabel Burger, made with two short rib/brisket patties, sharp cheddar, fresh jalapeño, bacon, hatch chile aioli, and Mabel BBQ sauce on a toasted brioche bun. Make it a full meal at lunch with the Shrimp and Grits (with jumbo Gulf shrimp and house smoked andouille sausage), or the BLT, made with pork butt (hand cooked and slow pulled), fried green tomato, kale-green apple cole slaw, and vinegar sauce on a brioche bun.
Blue Mabel’s dinner menu tempts and delights, with “Snacks” such as the Wood Grilled Ribeye Nachos (queso, charro beans, salsa verde, and sliced jalapeño peppers) and the Smoked Seafood Crudo (with blood orange, charred lime, and achiote oil).
In addition to all lunch offerings, dinner diners can also choose from such sumptuous offerings as Herb Grilled Gulf Fish (with scorched pepper and citrus relish, barbecued onions, toasted pecan “dirty” rice, and pineapple scotch bonnet beurre blanc) and the Flame Roasted Snow Crab (with house made seafood spice, herbed drawn butter, crisp crab boiled potatoes, and basil corn salad). Diners can polish off the experience with a sweet selection such as Chocolate Praline Bread Pudding or Lemongrass Thyme Crème Brulee.
A full bar and drink menu are available, with wines by bottle and glass, and a selection of signature cocktails that have quickly established Blue Mabel’s happy hour and evening place on 30A. (Rose Hound, anyone? Made with Absolute Citron, Rosemary Simple Syrup, and Grapefruit Juice). Unlike many area restaurants, Blue Mabel accepts reservations (even allowing you to select your time and book online).
Maybe it’s the comforting, soulful feel of the food, or the funky vibe of the building, or maybe it’s the happy hour that welcomes all. Or maybe it’s that whether tourist or local you just feel welcome. General Manager Michael McIntosh describes it best, saying, “At the end of the day, we are all locals and we treat our customers the way we would want when we go out for the evening: like family when you walk in the door.”
Blue Mabel can be found at 2260 W. Scenic Hwy. 30A in Blue Mountain Beach, and reservations can be made online or by calling 850-744-0040. Full menus and more information can be found at www.bluemabel.com.