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Feb 17, 2007 01:45 PM

Jayne's Gastropub and Cantina Mayahuel - San Diego

Had dinner last night in the Normal Heights/North Park neighborhood - first drinks at Cantina Mayahuel, and then dinner at Jayne's Gastropub.

Unfortunately Cantina Mayahuel does NOT have a full bar, and thus no margaritas - I wonder if they will get a liquor license? It would be better if their chips were fresh, as some have mentioned but their kitchen is tiny and is right behind the bar, and they don't have a deep fryer. I think their daily special would be the way to go there. They do a mole, chile colorado, cochinito pibil, and a seafood special. I should have committed the days to memory, but alas I did not. I do remember that Friday was a mole day, and I think the seafood was on Sat. Some of them repeat. I asked for a sample of the Chile Colorado, which was the special that night - and it was delicious. They had it simmering on the stove in a four quart saucepan. They also do tacos and tortas (we were sitting at the bar so I was watching them put the food together) and they looked good, but most of the regulars seemed to be ordering the Chile. One comment - watch your step coming out of the bathroom - I almost took a tumble off the step just outside the door!

Jaynes was terrific - everything was delicious and the owners are lovely and gracious hosts. I had the short ribs, which were served with some phenomenal mashed potatoes and nice crisp vegetables, with a port wine sauce. My husband had the free range chicken, which was reminiscent of Zuni chicken with side of couscous with arugula and currants. Our friend Tracy had the caesar salad which is served in whole spears (very lemony and garlicky - just like I like it) and she ordered a side of frites - which were amazing. They made them a bit thinner than they were at lunch, and they were crisp and well salted. Even better than Cafe Chloe's. We started with the calamari appetizer which was really good - tender and crisp, with housemade spicy cocktail sauce and tartar sauce. For dessert we had the butterscotch creme brulee and the brownie with vanilla gelato, both very good. They also serve good coffee, with real whipping cream. It looks like they have added their burger and the fish and chips back to the menu since then - otherwise everything else is the same as opening night.

They have a simple short wine list - we had a bottle of Albarino and I had a glass of the Innocent Bystander Pinot with my meal.

We really liked it, and I think they will do well!

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  1. recently went to Jayne's Gastropub and thought is was great. Very beautiful decor, candles everywhere, beautiful custom tile work. The food was excellent as well, steak frites. Very small menu so you know they do everything well. The owners are there so the service is on point. Very resonably priced. Reminds me of a classic neighboorhood bistro in San Francisco or NYC, the kind of place that is lacking in diego. This place is a great breath of fresh air to all the overpriced, corporate plastic, plastic modern decor, mediorce food places that have sprung up in san diego over the past three years. A return to class. Look forward to going again. My only fear is that it will get too popular and too packed.

    5 Replies
    1. re: thegmanifesto

      Just curious: What are "the overpriced, corporate plastic, plastic modern decor, mediorce food places that have sprung up in san diego over the past three years" ?

      1. re: honkman

        w hotel, any number of corporate steakhouses, the gaslamp in general

        1. re: thegmanifesto

          I don't see why the gaslamp in general should be a place of mediocre food and which number of corporate steakhouses sprung up in the last three years ?

          1. re: honkman

            Well, we're drifting off topic here, but what the hell.

            There's no reason why the gaslamp *should* be a place of mediocre food, and in fact there are good eats there in a number of places. If you look at the San Francisco board, it's not hard to find posters who declare that there's nothing good to eat around Fisherman's Wharf, and that's also untrue. What militates against places like the Gaslamp (and Fisherman's Wharf) being a really good dining venue across the board is simply the presence of the convention center and its nearby hotels which provide a vast, more-or-less captive group of less-than-discriminating diners with platinum cards in their wallets and expense report forms on their computers. Good capitalists that they are, the restaurant owners tend to charge what the traffic will bear, and do all that they can to increase sales volume while holding costs down. The result is predictable. Still, if someone simply writes off the Gaslamp, they'll miss places like Cafe Chloe, Oceanaire, Red Pearl Kitchen, Galileo and several others.

            But to return to the topic, the OP is right that Jayne's is a gem and a great addition to its neighborhood -- and all San Diego, for that matter.

            1. re: Jim Strain

              Cafe Chloe isn't in the Gaslamp. I think when people deride Gaslamp dining they are really generalizing about a particular type of restaurant that exists there, and cynical clubs with their ridiculous glorifying of conspicuous consumption.

              Bandar is in the Gaslamp and is really good, Chopahn is also good. But I've certainly had plenty of mediocre meals that cost way too much money at other places there. Fighting my way through throngs of drunken frat dudes to pay too much for average fare is not my idea of a pleasant evening.

    2. Really off topic. But examples of corporate steakhouses would be: Palm, LG's, Lou and mickeys(not sure if its a chain but feels like one) and many other corporate non-steakhouses. Jim Strain really nailed it on the "more-or-less captive group of less-than-discriminating diners with platinum cards in their wallets and expense report forms on their computers." You do not really see resturants in the gaslamp win awards with the james beard house for instance. But again a function of the dining population and capitalism.

      Also keep in mind, Cafe Chloe is not technically in the gaslamp (I believe its on 9th), Oceanaire and Red Pearl Kitchen are coroporate chains (although Oceanaire is very good, but also geared toward corporate plastic), and I have never eaten at Galileo, although I have heard average reviews (and as a nightclub it throws up a pretty big airball).

      So to come full circle, I like Jaynes Gastropub because, it is the opposite of "the overpriced, corporate plastic, plastic modern decor, mediorce food places that have sprung up in san diego over the past three years". Make sense?

      1 Reply
      1. re: thegmanifesto

        I can see your point but I think people tend to exaggerate about "overpriced, corporate plastic...". Oceanaire is a good example. What is wrong with the restaurant if it tries to look modern and tries to attract different kind of people. At the end it only matters if the food is good (I haven;t eaten at Oceanaire so far but people I trust think it is very good)and not who is sitting next to me. Restaurants are businesses who have to survive by attracting clientele which is in the area by offering good food and good ambience. And a touristic area doesn't automatically means that there is bad food.
        I am just a little bit tired of the standard response to restaurants in Gaslamp/Downtown on this board which more or less goes a long the lines that it is better to kill yourself before thinking about eating at a restautant in the Gaslamp.

      2. Again, really off topic. But Oceanaire doesnt really "tries to look modern" is modeled to look like a 1920's oceanliner. Oceanaire would not really be a great example of what I am talking about, although their good food is more a function of high quality seafood, not mind blowing preparations. But that is the beauty of seafood.

        I agree, "a touristic area doesn't automatically means that there is bad food", I am just saying that the gaslamp does. For instance, Las Ramblas in Barcelona is touristy, but has great food. The strip in Las Vegas is Touristy and has great food. Miami Beach is touristy and has great food. Many places are touristy and have great food. The Gaslamp, as I said originally, is corporate chains out of the coroporate card, which equals mediocre food.

        Back to Jayne's Gastropub. Very good and refreshing.

        1. After reading such positive reviews here, the husband and I went to Jayne's Gastropub for dinner last night. It so exceeded our expectations - a truly wonderful meal. We had reservations for 7, but got there about a half hour early to grab a drink and the small bar. We chatted with John and Jayne (the owners), who were gracious and friendly. You can tell that they have a vision of their restaurant being a true neighborhood spot. They made a point of knowing our names (our waiter, DJ, did as well) and using them. The decor is simple French-bistro black-and-white but very warm - "warm" was definitely the feeling of the night, especially once our bellies were full of some fantastic food!
          We started with the calamari, which was well seasoned and had some great dipping sauces, as Alice Q had mentioned. I had the weinerschnitzel, which was served with gruyere spaetzle. The schnitzel was beautiful: the pork cutlets were tender and the seasoning was mild but complex. The spaetzle complimented it well. My husband had the steak frites, which I cannot stop thinking about! We like our red meat medium-rare (pink throughout, cool center), and with the exception of fine steakhouses, our steaks usually come out medium (warm pink center). Well, I was more than pleasantly surprised at how perfect this steak was. I don't know if it was rubbed or marinated, but the taste was phenomenal as well. The frites were crisp and held up to the steak juices. I will be going back for this dish again soon.
          We were sadly too full for dessert, but the butterscotch creme brulee was definitely tempting. We'll have to go back for this, too!
          On a side note, we had a nice conversation with John behind the bar about the beers and wines he chooses. Thus far, he has Pilsner Urquell, Fat Tire, Widmer Hef, Stone IPA, and Alesmith IPA on tap. He said that he's looking to replace the Widmer Hef with a local "true" Hef that he just tasted, and he is committed to having a selection of fine local beers on tap. I look forward to seeing what's tapped the next time we go in (he recommended the Alesmith and did not steer us wrong - it was butterscotchy up front with a super hoppy finish). Sounds like he's also been tasting wines for the wine list, so that may change from time to time as well.