January 25, 2013 | Touring & Tasting Magazine, Wine Country Travel | Touring & Tasting
California Restaurant Month: Avant Tapas & Wine
Avant Tapas & Wine restaurant began as a tapas (Spanish for hors d’oeuvres) restaurant in the Terravant Wine Company, so that small food options could be provided for those visiting the wine production facilities. Due to popular demand from locals and visitors alike, Avant turned into a full-menu restaurant; and yes, they still serve their signature tapas, both hot and cold. Avant Tapas & Wine Restaurant continues to have excellent quality wines and some of the best food in the Santa Ynez Valley.
The most noticeable thing that sets Avant apart from other local restaurants, is its enomatic wine serving method. Guests are given a wine card and invited to select “Taste”, “Half Glass” or “Full Glass” from the automated wine pouring station, known as “The Wine Wall”. Pour as much as your heart desires of local whites like Chardonnay or Riesling, rosés like Grenache Rosé or Syrah Rosé, reds like Pinot Noir or Malbec, or dessert wines like port. All wines along the wall are available for purchase by the bottle. The Terravant Wine Company – which processes many wines for local wineries under the wineries’ labels – even has its own wine club that visitors can join.
If you thought the wine options at Avant would steal the show, you clearly did not try the food yet. Chef Brooke Stockwell, together with proprietor Joe Padilla, have created a fantastic menu that uses locally farmed, organic ingredients. From their tapas, like the duck confit crostini and Yuppie Crack (dates and goat cheese wrapped in applewood smoked drizzled with basil olive oil and a balsamic reduction), to Brooke’s perfectly-seasoned, daily soups (my favorite is the white bean and beef soup in homemade beef stock with arugula on top), there is a dish to tantalize every taste bud.
As stated at the bottom of their menu, the “local-centric” philosophy of Avant really shines through in their selection of wines and the quality ingredients they put in their dishes. The food pairs perfectly with the wines from the Santa Ynez Valley appellation, and the contemporary, upbeat ambiance is the icing on the cake to an unbeatable dining experience.