Food & Drink

Rancho Bernardo Inn's new restaurant wants you to play food critic, eat fried chicken

Like many SoCal housewives, the Rancho Bernardo Inn decided that nearly 50yrs meant it was time for some serious reconstruction, ushering out fine dining mainstay El Bizcocho and brining in AVANT, sporting comfy overstuffed booths, a breathtaking patio, and a charcuterie bar that encourages you to channel your inner-food critic and competitively taste-test your way through a large selection of global meaty & cheesy goodness (paired with homemade mustards from custom taps). Of course, you're unlikely to have many critiques on this buttermilk fried chicken sided with four-cheese mac and a biscuit..

Hit the charcuterie bar for platters of either three or five of the chef's nightly selections, like this spread of wild boar salami, La Quercia Berkshire prosciutto, saucisson sec, and pickled vegetables. There's even a "You Be The Judge" part of their menu, where meats and cheeses from different regions battle it out, like a steel cage match between La Quercia's Iowan prosciutto and Fermin Serrano from Spain.

While everyone thought the whole East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry was all about rappers, the real battle was going on in the dairy community, as you'll find out with left coast vs. right coast cheese tastings -- or you can try a sampling of three or five chef's selections, like the Triple Crème Soft Goat, Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper, Nicasio Reserve, and Comté Green Ribbon served with sliced bread and fruits.

Even the oysters are in competition. Try three different ones, each paired with a vodka shooter, like the Kushi with Ketel One, Beausoleil with Grey Goose, and Fanny Bay with Chopin -- and be sure not to leave out AVANT's atomic horseradish.

If you're not in the mood to pass judgments, just embrace pork three ways with this plate of loin, belly, and cheek with heirloom beans and natural jus.

AVANT is serious about farm freshness (like, on-site 6000sqft garden serious), which contributes to creations like this heirloom beet and citrus salad with pumpernickel, green goddess, and hibiscus, helping you take a break from all that meat so you don't need a lap band by the time you hit fifty.