Restaurant of the Week: AVANT

There is fine dining. Then, there is I-must-be-dreaming-OMG-wow dining. The latter can be said of AVANT, the signature restaurant at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego.

AVANT, located at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, is a bit of a culinary unicorn. Its incredible tasting menu, craft cocktails and wine list are almost intimidatingly perfect. Each plate is like a small edible masterpiece. Yet, thanks to its attentive service and casual ambience, AVANT manages to be wonderfully welcoming and family-friendly.


The restaurant’s warmth begins with its woodsy cabin meets country cottage vibe. The interior is decked with leather chairs and tufted booths, dark woods, a glass-walled wine cellar and dramatic lighting. Its open-air dining section features a lightened-up color palette with cushy seating, all anchored by a stunning stone-surround fireplace. If there is a prettier place than AVANT’s alfresco dining area to take in the sunset in San Diego, we have yet to find it.

AVANT guests are invited to enjoy a four-course tasting menu for $95; the dishes can be enjoyed a la carte as well. While the menu spotlights an innovative fusion of French and American fare in a seasonally changing lineup, one thing remains consistent: it is always a showcase of the freshest ingredients, from the garden (which is found on-site at the resort), sea or farm.

The progressive tasting menu features three to five options per course, with a wide variety of options for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan diners. On the Chef’s Garden Spring 2022, the menu pays special mind to seasonal specialties like spring pea, onion blossom, artichoke, green garlic, kumquat and passionfruit. A particularly springy starter is the black truffle and ricotta tart, showcasing English peas, ramps and Pèrigord truffle in a delicate cookie-esque “loop.”

The lightly charred French langoustines, with buttermilk, lime and Zutano avocado, and the New Zealand seabream, with turnip, Dungeness crab and a delightfully tart zing of kumquat, are sure to be memorable dishes for even the most well-versed seafood lover. Equally delicious, the aged duck breast, paired with almond, leek and shallot, basically melts in the mouth.

Alongside sommelier Joe Baumgardner’s incredible, award-winning wine and local beer list is a remarkable collection of craft cocktails from Jason Sorge. Two libations not to skip: Jalisco Roots with Herradura Reposado Tequila, Cointreau, ginger and lime, and Woodsman, with Kikori Japanese Whiskey, lemongrass, jasmine and orange bitters. Pair these with the aforementioned sunset, and we promise there’s no where else you’d rather be.

AVANT is open Wednesday to Saturday, 4 to 10 p.m. To learn more, visit www.ranchobernardoinn.com.

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