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Advance Word on Rancho Bernardo Inn's AVANT

[All photos by Candice Woo]

Eater got a first peek at the big transformation that's currently underway at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. The resort is in the process of turning their four decades-old fine dining restaurant, El Bizcocho, into a more accessible, modern eatery. Scheduled to reopen by late May, AVANT aims to be an everyday dining option, instead of a special occasion-only destination.

The hotel's general manager, John Gates, gave Eater a tour of the new 6,500 square foot space, which will hold seating for just over 200 in their main dining room, two private dining rooms and a climate-controlled open porch. Much of the action will center around a 25-seat bar that will serve craft cocktails and both wine and beer on tap. At one end, anchored by a Berkel slicer, is AVANT's charcuterie bar, where Nicolas Bour, the property's Executive Chef, will be serving artisan meat and cheese, and house-made pâté and rillette. The chef told Eater that he's particularly excited about having two bar taps dedicated to dispensing the restaurant's homemade mustard.

Bour is developing the menu and will oversee the kitchen, but the Rancho Bernardo Inn has also enlisted the cooking chops of James Kozak, formerly of Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, who will serve as the restaurant's Chef de Cuisine. While El Bizcocho's fare was primarily French-focused and formal, AVANT's will be lighter and more produce-driven. Chef Bour installed a 6,000 square foot garden on the property two years ago and expects to be able to supply lettuces to all the hotel's dining rooms, and provide much of AVANT's other produce needs; one planned entree, a 12-vegetable plate, is subtitled 'A walk through our garden'.

Other dishes you can expect to find when AVANT opens: ahi tuna with olive tortellini, artichoke, cilantro puree and lemon puree, sautéed diver scallops with Chino Farm succotash and eight hour tomato, and a dry-aged sirloin with three mushroom varieties, torpedo onion and veal jus.

El Bizcocho was renowned for its wine program, and AVANT is planning for a wine room where diners will be able to taste different varietals and vintages before picking out a bottle for their table. There will also be a demonstration kitchen for chef showcases and small retail space.
· Avant [Official Site]
· El Bizcocho To Close And Reopen With New Name, Lower Prices [U-T]