It was [roughly] twenty thirty years ago today that a young man from Liverpool brought his family to the U.S. for an extended RV vacation and road trip that ultimately landed the ex-pats in their new home San Diego, California. “From the moment we first got here, my dad just fell in love with San Diego, the weather and the beauty of the place,” says 30-something Jayne of her adored and adorable father Frank (“the same age as Paul McCartney”), “and so we decided to settle here.” And while the Battle clan has happily attained naturalized San Diegan status in the meantime, it has never lost touch with its Liverpudlian roots (to this day, Jayne remains a loyal British subject). “That’s one of the reasons why I looked to England and the Gastropub movement of the early 1990s, when Jon [then fiancé now husband] and I decided to open a restaurant.”
When Jayne traveled to London post-college graduation just before the turn of the millennium, the Gastropub phenomenon had not yet landed in the U.S. “When my girlfriend and I got there,” she remembers, “we didn’t even know what a ‘gastropub’ was. But we soon discovered that a new generation of young pub owners had begun to take their food very seriously. Chefs were creating new interpretations of British pub classics and they were searching out organically grown and raised ingredients.”
Another source of inspiration came from the now legendary Cafè Zuni, still a best-kept secret of Jayne’s university days (studying marine biology) in San Francisco. Nearly every element was in place: pub food with a gourmet touch, created by pairing organic and sustainably grown and raised ingredients with classics of American diner, French bistro, and British pub food. But then came a proposal. A very special proposal, indeed: in 2003, Jon Battle Erickson (né Erickson of Westport, Connecticut) asked the lovely Ms. Battle for her hand in marriage one spring night in Manhattan, over oysters and Champagne at Balthazar in SoHo.
A devoted and loving financé (now husband), Jon harnessed his skills in interior design and construction, honed during his years moonlighting as a carpenter (while working as a session bassist and recording engineer in the Bay Area) to help create his betrothed’s vision of a European “public house.” With its nineteenth-century window frames and ornate mirrors, it’s black and white tiled floor, and the taxidermic masterpieces adorning the walls, guests are transported to a dining room that could be found in contemporary London, Paris, or even Milan.
But Jon’s duties weren’t relegated solely to construction and operations: he also serves as the restaurant’s wine director and beer meister. “Back in 2003, when I was working as a recording engineer in a Hollywood studio,” remembers Jon, “producer Mike Andrews (of Donnie Darko and Greyboy Allstars fame) and I made a record with a crazy French band out of New York. The guitar player was a wine fanatic and a decent cook and so he brought great wines and catered the entire session with meals he prepared himself. It was a 1996 Prémier Cru Chablis that made me realize there was life beyond California Chardonnay.”
Whether its from Jon’s hand-selected natural wine cellar or his pedigreed gathering of artisanal brews, the international and domestic offering is intended to complement Jaynes’ lovingly crafted menu.