Rancho Valencia Resort San Diego

January 7, 2012 by staff 

Rancho Valencia Resort San DiegoRancho Valencia Resort San Diego, Several years ago when we were planning to get married in San Diego we were searching for a good location for the reception dinner with our families coming from Germany. We were looking for a quiet place with very good food and a certain “California” feel.

We had compiled a list of several places which looked promising and as part of our “survey” of all these places we also decided to visit the different restaurants to get a general feeling of the quality of the food and the capabilities of the kitchens. One of the possible locations was the Rancho Valencia Resort.

The resort is situated in a beautiful part of Rancho Santa Fe and has a relaxed feeling and was overall close to something we were looking for. Unfortunately when we visited the Restaurant at Rancho Valencia Resort the experience and food was very underwhelming and perhaps one of the most overpriced dinners we yet had in San Diego. Obviously we decided to have our reception somewhere else and tried to forget about our restaurant experience.

Fast-forward several years to 2011 – you always hear that a new chef can have a tremendous effect on the quality of a restaurant kitchen but that didn’t originally impress us when we heard that the Restaurant at Rancho Valencia Resort had hired Chef Eric Bauer as new executive chef. But over the last few weeks we read on several occasions very encouraging reports that he had completely overhauled the menu and really stepped up game to bring the quality of the kitchen to something you would expect for such a well respected resort. Chef Bauer was born in Chicago and finished his culinary training in 2000 at the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College in Chicago before he started working at the city’s Ritz-Carlton. He then joined the Four Season hotel chain and worked at different locations, including Carlsbad, Westlake Village and Costa Rica moving up the ranks. He left the hotel chain in 2007 for his first executive chef position as opening chef at the Morel French Steakhouse in Las Vegas. In May 2009 he moved to San Diego to become chef at Anthology were he stayed for a year before finding his current position. Executive Chef Bauer works together at the kitchen with Chef de Cuisine Aaron Martinez. Chef Martinez completed his culinary education in 2003 at the Arizona Culinary Institute in Scottsdale, worked as sous chef at the Addison in San Diego, at In de Wulf in Belgium and staged at famous Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian before coming to Rancho Valencia last year.

All these indicators of significant changes at the Restaurant at Rancho Valencia Resort gave us hope that it might be worth changing our mind and giving it a second chance. As usual, a tasting menu would give us the best chance to really experience a “new” restaurant and kitchen team by giving them all creative freedom. Together with a few other San Diego foodies we contacted the restaurant and found out that even though there is currently no tasting menu on the official menu they are willing to create one for everybody who is interested, and so we finally settled on an 11-course tasting menu at Restaurant at Rancho Valencia Resort. After a few ccktails outside on the patio we went into the rustic and old looking but still comfortable dinner room to be greeted by some snacks to start the night.

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