Jaynes Gastropub: The best of both worldsRestaurant Review Thursday, March 24th, 2011
If there was an award that went to the definition of gastropub, it would go to Jaynes.
Pubs, as they are known, are causal drinking establishments with little emphasis on food and are a big part of the British culture. Gastronomy is the art and science of good eating and was around long before Bravo’s top chef made it a household name.
In the late 20th century, the term gastropub was originated and a new concept of a restaurant in a pub reinvigorated the dining culture. By combining the two, you get an easy-going, fun atmosphere with incredible food created by cooking masters.
There are many imitations of this style that have migrated into the cities of America. Thankfully, here in San Diego, we have one that is the real thing, no imitation required. Jaynes Gastropub is the epitome of that concept and borders two of our best neighborhoods for dining, University Heights and North Park. Housed just in from the corner of 30th Street and Adams Avenue, white brick with black trimmed windows and lighted topiaries offer a flicker of sophistication.
On entering, you are welcomed by a quaint copper bar, walls lined with white subway tiles and an open kitchen that allows the flavors of the evening to emanate into the air. Simple white clothed bistro tables and wooden chairs line the room. An enormous mirror, alongside large colorful European posters make you feel like you have just hopped Concorde and landed in a cozy corner spot in London’s West End.
If you are lucky enough, you might just score a table on the brick and ivy lined back patio. Truly, this is one of San Diego’s best kept secrets for outdoor dining.
Chef Jayne Battle is not only the mastermind behind the food, but is also your gracious host for the evening. Offering one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen, she is proud of her establishment, and it shows. As you get settled, one of the magnificent servers greets you with charm and guides you through the bistro style menu with great assurance.
Crostini with White Bean Puree ($11.50) is the simple table starter. Served with house roasted peppers right off the grill, the white beans are pureed to perfection and served with lightly toasted Levain (sourdough bread).
The Gambas Al Ajillo ($15.50) is a dish I have had all over the world; Jayne does it best. Flawlessly cooked shrimp are drenched in a sauce of olive oil, sliced garlic and fresh chilies. Once the shrimp are all devoured, the flavorful jus becomes the best dipping sauce for the grilled baguettes.
No pub menu would be complete without a dish of Crispy Calamari ($10.50), Chips (French Fries) and Gravy ($11.50), and of course a cheese course. On my last visit, one of the ever-changing cheeses served that night was a hybrid of cheddar and blue. Creamy and sharp, the Dunbarton Blue was brilliant and one of the most interesting I have had lately in any restaurant.
As if the décor, atmosphere and service didn’t already, the entrée selection defines exactly what a gastropub should be. Bangers and Mash ($19.50), a traditional English dish, and Jayne stay true to its heritage. The grilled sausages are plump and juicy while the garlic mashed potatoes are fluffy and soak up the rich gravy of balsamic onions.
I have an aversion to ordering chicken in any restaurant because it usually comes out dry and overcooked. Jaynes Chicken under a Brick ($21.50) is an exception and happens to be one of the favorites of a frequent dining partner. The Jidori Chicken is crispy and is served with a rarely seen side of couscous loaded with pine nuts and currants.
Steak Frites ($24.50), a classic in any pub, is executed well, but not the star on the menu. That placement goes to the Seabass Fish and Chips ($19.50). It is a dish as classic to its heritage as Jayne herself. Delicate filets of fresh seabass are beer battered with Newcastle Brown Ale. Offering a nutty taste the beer is known for, the lightly fried fish is the only fried food I would ever eat. Dabbed with just the right amount of malt vinegar, the fish is fried crispy on the outside yet sweet and delicate on the inside. Chips seasoned to perfection come along side, with beautiful snap peas providing a nice crunch.
Everything in this restaurant screams gastropub, even down to the music. Jon Erickson, Jayne’s partner in crime for all things great, DJs your evening with soft sounds of classic retro music that leaves everyone at your table randomly saying, “Oh wow, I love this song.”
As the wine flows from the well chosen list, you can sit back, enjoy several laughs with your friends, a non pretentious dish that tastes just great, and thank God that we are fortunate that Jayne and Jon landed with us to share their passions. Everything here ties itself together like a little present from Harrods. And for us as diners, that’s a gift we all want.
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=5129