Chef-restaurateur David Burke isn’t done growing his portfolio, which already includes Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning establishments in multiple states: David Burke Prime Steakhouse in Connecticut, 1776 by David Burke in New Jersey, and Double Barrel Steak by David Burke in Rhode Island.
Earlier this year, Burke and the David Burke Hospitality Management team took over the food and beverage programs at the Bernards Inn, a 116-year-old hotel in Bernardsville, N.J., opening the new Red Horse by David Burke on Nov. 2 (following an Oct. 10 soft opening). A “spinoff” of the Red Horse by David Burke restaurant in Rumson, N.J., this is the chef’s ninth restaurant in the Garden State.
“We are all very excited about this project,” said Burke in a statement. “This is one of New Jersey’s greatest, iconic properties, and we are bringing it back to its glory days. Ever since I was a young chef, I had a lot of respect for this property and its contributions to New Jersey’s fine-dining scene.”
[article-img-container][src=2023-11/restaurant-news-david-burke-bernards-inn-sides-111623_1600.jpg] [credit= (David Burke Hospitality Management)] [alt= Metal dishes of whipped potatoes with basil oil, creamed spinach with pear and crispy brussels sprouts with bacon in a maple glaze at Red Horse by David Burke in Bernardsville, New Jersey][end: article-img-container]
Burke’s menu at the 120-seat restaurant highlights seasonal ingredients from local producers—including New Jersey bison, chicken and oysters—as well as those farther afield. Chef Brian Webber prepares dishes such as prime steaks dry-aged in pink Himalayan salt (a Burke hallmark), lobster pasta, whole-roasted fish, sushi and desserts that build on Burke’s extensive pastry experience.
Director of operations Joshua Bernstein’s diverse wine program features more than 300 selections, with bottles from Burgundy’s Louis Jadot, Champagne’s G.H. Mumm, Napa Valley’s Jordan and even New Jersey’s new Meadowbrook Winery, among others. There are about a dozen large-format bottles, 12 half-bottles and a range of sakes. Much of the 3,000-bottle inventory was inherited when Burke’s team took over the space; Bernstein plans to expand and evolve the program with wines from regions such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Chile.
Dining room décor honors the surrounding “New Jersey Horse Country,” with equestrian design elements similar to those in other Burke restaurants. Following extensive renovations, the space boasts dark wood moldings, a white marble bar and tall windows, as well as the original stone fireplace.
[article-img-container][src=2023-11/restaurant-news-david-burke-bernards-inn-art-111623_1600.jpg] [credit= (David Burke Hospitality Management)] [alt= A painting of three horses, rustic lighting fixtures and other art at Red Horse by David Burke in Bernardsville, New Jersey][end: article-img-container]
Later this year, Burke is opening a more casual spot, the Bernie, on the lower level of the inn. Inspired by speakeasies and supper clubs, the Bernie will offer food and drinks while serving as a music venue and space for wine dinners, trivia nights and other events. The chef is also overseeing the inn’s 200-seat banquet room and a glass-top VIP table, where he will offer tasting menus. Burke’s group is overseeing the Bernards Inn’s 20 guest rooms as well, its first move into hotel management.
“I have a great respect for New Jersey’s historic businesses, and I get a kick out of infusing them with new vigor and fun, ensuring they continue into the future,” said Burke. “When I walk in the Bernards Inn, I feel its greatness like an old stadium or theater. I think, wow, if these walls could talk.”—C.D.
Who’s behind it: Acclaimed chef-restaurateur Thomas Keller and his Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, the team behind Wine Spectator Grand Award winners the French Laundry in California and Per Se in New York
When it opened: The Bouchon Bistro in Coral Gables, Fla., debuted in September 2023.
Why you should know about it: This is the second Florida restaurant from Keller, following The Surf Club Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Surfside. And it is the third Bouchon endeavor, joining Best of Award of Excellence winners Bouchon Bistro in the Napa Valley town of Yountville, Calif., and Bouchon in Las Vegas, which opened in 1998 and 2004, respectively.
[article-img-container][src=2023-11/restaurant-news-bouchon-coral-gables-mussels-fries-111623_1600.jpg] [credit= (David Escalante)] [alt= Mussels in a cast-iron bowl next to French fries at Bouchon Bistro in Coral Gables, Florida][end: article-img-container]
The culinary approach: Drawing inspiration from Paris bistros, Bouchon’s menu is sure to please Francophiles with classics like succulent poulet rôti, moules frites drenched in a sunny saffron broth, French onion soup and escargot. Guests can also expect deeper cuts from Keller’s repertoire: boudin noir (blood sausage) served with poached Fuji apples; seared trout Grenobloise with cauliflower and capers; and gigot d’agneau, a roasted leg of lamb accented with garlic confit. The menu also includes classic platters of fruits de mer and small plates like duck foie gras and salmon rillettes.
What’s on the wine list: Thomas Keller Restaurant Group national beverage director Michel Couvreux (formerly head sommelier at Per Se) developed the list at the new Bouchon. The focus of the cellar is primarily on France, Couvreux explained to Wine Spectator via email. While the Yountville restaurant, surrounded by Napa’s great wineries, features an extensive program of wines from California, Couvreux wanted to “take a different approach” when it came to the bistro’s Florida location. Standout choices from Burgundy, the Rhône Valley and Bordeaux grace the list, including Château Palmer Margaux 2010, Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009 and Joseph Drouhin Vosne-Romanée 2020. Couvreux said that, while the wine list currently stands at 250 selections, he sees it growing to 350 by the end of the year.
[article-img-container][src=2023-11/restaurant-news-bouchon-coral-gables-steak-frites-111623_1600.jpg] [credit= (David Escalante)] [alt= Steak frites at Bouchon Bistro in Coral Gables, Florida, with a pat of butter on top, and French fries on the plate][end: article-img-container]
The neighborhood: Coral Gables, located 20 minutes south of Downtown Miami, has attracted the attention of restaurateurs from elsewhere in recent years, including Grand Award–winning, Washington, D.C.–based group Fabio Trabocchi Restaurants, which brought Fiola to town in 2018. With museums, a botanical garden, a large park with a marina, shopping and proximity to the University of Miami, the area offers an interesting and exciting dining scene. “Coral Gables is a very unique neighborhood of Miami,” Couvreux observed. “There are a lot of families, and we really hope Bouchon will feel like [an] everyday place where anyone can come in to have a bite, drink or full meal.”—J.L.
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