Avant – Rancho Bernardo
One of the best things about being a food blogger is obviously the food, but more than that it’s the unique settings you find yourself in, enjoying said food. It’s the secret bus that takes you to an undisclosed dining location on the beach, or a Comic Con pop up from a chef whose restaurant is near impossible to get in. Or in this case, an intimate kitchen dining experience where Chef de Cuisine Aaron Thomas prepares tastings of the summer menu at Avant in Rancho Bernardo before your very eyes.
What he did for us was prepare one main dish so we could see what a normal portion would look like, along with smaller tasting plates for us to try.
We started out strong with dishes with a heavy dose of tomato. Raw tomatoes are not really my thing but in small amounts I can handle it. Handle it I did and the dish overall was very subtle. There were multiple dishes to come so perhaps there was an intentional buildup occurring.
Beautifully plated, this one was a stunner.
If forced to choose between this watermelon dish and the last burrata I would lean towards the watermelon. It was equally light, but much more refreshing and served as a pick me up. If the fruit juices don’t do it, the vibrant colors wet the palette and get you excited for what’s next. This isn’t currently on the main menu, although I bet people would order it if it was.
The himachi brought the sea to your mouth. Very fresh tasting and powerful, but not too in your face, I enjoyed this spoonful.
Another item not currently featured on the menu is the beef carpaccio. I seemed to rather enjoy the pickled vegetables quite a bit, even more than the actual beef. They demanded my attention and took the spotlight.
Onto the mains! Another beautiful display of culinary art. Certainly one of the favorites of the night, the combination of land and sea on one plate gets me every time. Add chicharrones and Korean bbq and it’s almost like Chef entered the cheat code straight to victory.
What might seem like overpowering individual flavors on their own, there was certainly restraint and a steady hand behind the dish which ensured just the right balance. Perfectly seasoned, it had crunch, sweet, salty, and everything in between.
Yet another winning dish in the rack of lamb. Chef Aaron Thomas and the Executive Chef, Travis Watson have somewhat of a ongoing dispute as to what type of lamb is the gold standard. Chef Watson swears by Colorado lamb while Chef Thomas leans towards lamb back in his native UK. There could be no comparison on this day as they serve Colorado rack of lamb. I can’t say I was not pleased with the end result.
I know I already made the sea analogy but the first thing that pops up when I look at this board is land or a farm. Carrots, barley, lamb, all raised on a sustainable farm. That’s the picture I paint in my head. The dish was distinctly lamb, yet not overly gamey or heavy. My taste has changed over the years and long gone are the days of taking down a 24 oz. steak on my own. But this dish gives me hope of a day where I can do that once again.
Lynn of Oh So Yummy also attended the tasting and I think she likes to take pictures of other bloggers and post them on her blog. We thought we’d return the favor! Don’t let her make you think this was “our idea.” 🙂
We also managed to grab a shot of us and Chef Watson and Chef Thomas before we left. Chef Watson was a former football player at my ala mater, University of Arizona too. I was super stoked to hear that. Bear Down!!!
There you have it. Dining in the Avant kitchen was a great time and they can accommodate up to 12 for a private demonstration. We had a wonderful evening meeting other food lovers and of course watching all of the food come and go even faster. With an extensive menu, there’s plenty of options to try on another visit!
Disclaimer: We were invited to the try their offerings free of charge, but the opinions stated are our own.
17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive
San Diego, CA 92128