Riviera San Diego Magazine: Part Deux
By Kersten Deck
September 2013 | Riviera San Diego Magazine
Checking in at the hotly anticipated AVANT at the Rancho Bernardo Inn.
We’ve had a year to lament the shuttering of El Bizcocho and wring all meaning from the phrase “end of an era” – longer, if your mouring period began with the ’07 departure of wunderkind Gavin Kaysen. The Rancho Bernardo Inn stalwart was a fine-dining institution for nearly half a century, a stately landmark that lured celebrants of special occasions as well as illustrious chefs who came to visit, learn and sometimes stay, elevating San Diego cuisin to lofty levels and inspiring us to dress for dinner.
Today, as the just-unveiled AVANT, few would recognize the space, now a modern California ranch den where petite syrah is on tap and warm bread arrives at the table in a paper sleeve. In style, temperament and cuisine, there’s absolutely no mistaking this modish and warm restaurant for the formal and meticulous El Biz – and after pouring $2.5 million into the wall-leveling, view-enhancing, tablecloth-eschewing, thoroughly modernizing remodel, Rancho Bernardo Inn is surely fine with that. There’s little sense in holding the new space to the stratospheric bar set by its predecessor; AVANT is less inclined to fill dauntingly big shoes than it is to break in a brand-new pair and show them off for the masses. The fact taht The Wire and Games of Thrones are both HBO dramas doesn’t mean it’s useful to compare them too seriously.