By Kelley Carlson
Executive Chef John Beriker brings a world of experience into the kitchen at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.
Growing up in the business since age 14, Beriker at one time worked with legendary chef Wolfgang Puck at Spago, and has served as executive chef at hotels in locations such as Singapore, Germany, Australia and Thailand.
Subsequently, Beriker brings an “East meets West” flavor to his dishes. Managing Director Kerman Beriker (who is also John’s father) noted that the best quality ingredients are used and the food is 95 percent organic.
“Be open-minded (about the menu),” Kerman suggested.
The lunch and dinner menus vary, but among the starters on both are the Thai Vegetable Spring Roll, served with a sweet chili sauce; and The Inn’s Royce Salad (named for the owners) with Parmesan, avocado, bacon and buttermilk ranch dressing.
Entree salads, burgers and sandwiches compose the majority of the lunch lineup — from the Organic Nicoise Ahi Tuna Salad to the Inn Burger (bacon, lettuce, tomato aged white cheddar and grilled red onion) to the Turkey Club.
Dinner entrees focus on meats and fresh seafood that is delivered daily. The pink-hued Oven Roasted Wild Salmon is accompanied by a raspberry beurre blanc, while the Grilled Prime Brandt “All Natural” Filet Mignon is served with red wine lentils, smoked bacon, sugar snap peas and purple cauliflower.
From the wok station, there’s Kung Pao and Panang Curry; both can be ordered as meat, seafood or vegetarian dishes.
As for dessert, delectable options include Peach Lavender Tart, Coffee Creme Brulee and Chocolate Trilogy Cake.
An “Innfusion Kids Menu” is available for the under-12 crowd. There are such standards as macaroni and cheese and pizza with cheese or pepperoni, but items such as the 5-ounce Prime Filet Mignon and the Shrimp Cocktail make the inn’s children’s offerings unique.
Another aspect that distinguishes the restaurant from other establishments is the fact that guests can enjoy their food anywhere on the picturesque property.
There is a main dining room with red cushioned chairs surrounding tables draped with white tablecloths, but choices abound. The adjacent library presents a cozy atmosphere, where guests can choose to dine near the fireplace and select a title to read, such as “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy or “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s also a popular location for wine dinners and eight-course menus.
Patrons can also warm up next to hearths in the bar (where locals enjoy watching sporting events on the TV) and on the patio, which gets plenty of shade from umbrellas stretching over the tables.
Some guests take their food into the spacious nearby lobby and lounge on couches, often listening to Dan Troxell playing piano from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Others head outside the Spanish Colonial building to the flower-accented terrace during pleasant weather, getting an eyeful of the Rancho Santa Fe landscape.
Kerman added that along with room service, the inn’s restaurant provides delivery to nearby homes — complete with china and glassware. “(It’s) the same way we do delivery in a guest room,” he said. “Our goal is to offer the best quality and consistency and professional service.”