Bangers & Mash - grilled Irish pork sausage, garlic mashed potatoes and balsamic onion gravy - is served with a pint of Guinness at Jayne’s Gastropub, 4677 30th Street in Normal Heights. — John R. McCutchen
It’s easy to reproduce the gastropub’s terrific food, interesting drinks and relaxed camaraderie at home. Take a look at our recipes, beer, wine and cocktail choices, and inexpensive design suggestions to create your own trendy dining experience.
A bare wooden table, cotton kitchen towels as napkins, and a couple votive candles can turn a breakfast nook into a hip and happening scene. To add charm and authenticity, consider:
• Small blackboards, Regal Beagle-style, with the evening’s menu written in colored chalk
• Cool pint glasses, available at Cost Plus, Bed Bath & Beyond and Macy’s Home
• Board games such as CONNECT and RACK-O
• Funky quotes scribbled on the hallway or bathroom mirrors. Hey, it works at Craft & Commerce!
Who says you have to drink PBR with that hot dog? Today’s gastropubs are as likely to tout a Cabernet as a Corona with their signature burgers and shepherd’s pie. Here are some suggestions from Jon Erickson of Jayne’s Gastropub and Ken Mills of Proper Gastro Pub.
• Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva Rosé from Lopez De Heredia in the Rioja Alta area of Spain. Food-friendly wine, especially for spicy food. The wine’s sherry-like quality pairs well with Gambas al Ajillo (see recipe above).
• Dingac Peljesac 2007, a wine with “soft fruit and old world, rustic earth” from Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. Ideal partner for hearty comfort foods.
• Nebbiolo 2008 from Produttori Del Barbaresco Langhe, offering bright cherry aromas and flavor.
• Unger Grüner Veltliner. “Groo-Vee, ” the darling white wine of Austria, offers subtle spice and mineral notes with flowery undertones and can be found for about $10 a bottle.
• Verdejo from Ipsum. Ver-what??, you ask. That’s the beauty of a gastropub wine list. Drink something you’ve never heard of, and do it for about 10 bucks a bottle. This wine has pleasing grapefruit and lemon-lime notes with a whiff of jasmine.
What’s on tap
Good selections of unusual bottled beers are at Cost Plus, Barons Marketplace and Whole Foods. Consider pairing some of Regal Beagle’s best-loved brews with your gastropub fare:
Rogue Dead Guy Ale: Malty aroma and rich flavor from an Oregon brewery
Le Freak: Belgian-style IPA
Thunderweizen: German-style unfiltered wheat beer
Grown-up “sno cones, ” anyone? Craft & Commerce’s dazzling Carolina Cross cocktail involves a lot of crushed ice, a little gin, a little St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and a lot of drama. Here’s the recipe:
4-5 small chunks watermelon
Dash orange bitters
1⁄2 ounce St. Germaine
2 ounces Plymouth gin
Place watermelon chunks in a metal cocktail shaker. Muddle (pound with wooden stick or back of large spoon). Add orange bitters, St. Germaine and gin. Add a couple of ice “pellets” and shake vigorously.
Fill large glass (such as a pint glass) with finely crushed ice, mounding it above the rim. Pour mixture from cocktail shaker over crushed ice. Add soda water to fill glass.
What’s in a name? Well, if the name in question is “gastropub, ” the answer is, a whole lot of confusion.
When Jayne’s Gastropub opened its doors in North Park in 2007, diners didn’t so much worry about what the name meant as how many of the eatery’s fabulous JayneBurgers and bittersweet chocolate brownies they could eat without getting fat.
“We decided to do a gastropub because I’m originally from Liverpool and I wanted to do a restaurant that meant something to me, ” says Jayne Battle, who pioneered the gastropub concept here with her husband Jon Erickson. “Also, my father ran pubs in Liverpool, and I wanted him to be a part of the new restaurant; I wanted to keep him in the mix.”
Today, Jayne’s Gastropub is a lively gathering place, what Battle calls “a hangout.” Fans love the impressive beer and wine selection, the charming backyard patio, and the cozy interior. “There’s no TV, ” Battle adds, “so it’s all about conversation and pints.” Regulars also love the menu, which includes classics such as bangers and mash, and fish and chips, as well as contemporary creations like chicken under a brick, and crostini with white bean purée.
According to most sources, the term gastropub was coined in 1991 by the owners of The Eagle, a traditional pub in London. The two Brits, David Eyre and Mike Belben, claimed their goal was to team upscale, high-quality food with the beer and booze that drew fans to their establishment. The result was a new type of eatery that bridged the gap between booze halls and fine-dining restaurants, between “pub grub” and “haute cuisine.”
The concept was slow to catch on in the U.S., but in the last 10 years more and more gastropubs have opened to satisfy the dining public’s craving for first-rate food, an unpretentious atmosphere and good value. The very word conveys a sense of community, a “Cheers”-like vibe. A gastropub is a cherished neighborhood spot where the folks behind the bar and the burners quickly learn their customers’ names.
The gastropub chef takes food as seriously as the bartender takes the creamy head on a glass of Guinness. Though he may well offer “fish-and-chips, ” it’ll be done with in-season, fresh Alaskan halibut, Yukon Gold potatoes and a mayonnaise spiked with local organic herbs.
In the past few years, San Diego has become home to a handful of thriving gastropubs. Though they don’t always call themselves that, they do offer the comfort, casual ambience, and imaginative food and drink that the concept implies.
Proper Pub (at Petco Park), whose proprietor grew up outside London, calls itself a “Gastro Pub” but manages to be a classy wine bar, all-American ballpark saloon and serious restaurant at the same time. The menu touts steamed mussels three ways, a sassy ancho chile pork chop with polenta cake, and a Pub Burger with cheddar and crispy fried onions. In a nod to its homeland, Proper also does a shepherd’s pie, but this one — with red wine braised lamb, lamb reduction and a celeriac-parsnip-yukon mash — redefines the term. In addition to a selection of beers, Proper also offers an extensive list of unusual wines from sister establishment Wine Steals.
The Regal Beagle on India Street, dubbed “Ale House and Sausage Grill, ” offers 24 rotating brews on tap, well-worn board games, and pedigreed “hot dogs” including Portuguese linguica, Moroccan lamb, and a cranberry-studded turkey link.
Craft & Commerce in Little Italy, open only a couple months yet already playing to a full house nightly, is more sleek-industrial than comfy-cozy. But its emphasis on cocktails, beer and wine, along with such nibbles as “Cracker Jacks” made with bacon, Marcona almonds and fried hominy; a delectable burger with onion confit and malt aioli; and a trio of international hot dogs — with German sauerkraut, Japanese daikon and Spanish chicharrones — clearly fits the gastropub image.