As tourists soar into the city, New Yorkers are working hard for the weekend.
Some flock east to the Hamptons, and some jet north to Cape Cod. While that weekend beach getaway is idyllic and offers a sense of romanticism, an escape to the rural countryside of Sussex County New Jersey is precisely what this mountain loving, midwest girl craves. I know, I know – New Jersey? The same thoughts crossed my mind too, but trust me. The Utopian hideaway I have discovered is nothing compared to New Jersey’s reputation. But you have to remind yourself, it is the garden state.
Once you bolt out of the Holland tunnel, get passed the turnpike, and down the winding road from the bustling Polish Delicatessen called Polski Smak; life in New Jersey has an air of refinement, and gets significantly greener. Crystal Springs Resort, located a bit over an hour from the city, nestled in the Kittatinny Mountains is home to one particular culinary jewel. Restaurant Latour.
The Latour name is one that will perk the ears of many wine aficionados. And I’m very surprised not more of the aficionados among my immediate acquaintance have never mentioned it. Why aren’t people talking about this place?
Restaurant Latour, and its unrivaled wine cellar is shepered by Wine Director Robby Younes, Sommeliers Susanne Lerescu and Jon Hartlage. The cellar has held Wine Spectator’s highest accolade since 2006. The wine list has been awarded three stars from The World of Fine Wine’s “World’s Best Wine Lists” in 2014 and 2015, was named one of “America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants” by Wine Enthusiast in 2014, 2015, and again, recently announced for 2016. Restaurant Latour is home to one of the largest fine wine collections in the world with over 75,000 bottles, featuring 6,000 labels and vintages. The oldest dating 1863. The collection includes bottles from the prestige Chateaus of Bordeaux; including over 100 vintages from Chateau Latour. It also includes wines from Burgundy, and old-school California wines that were once urban legends to me. Until now!
The menu at Restaurant Latour is a masterpiece all its own. Chef Anthony Bucco and Chef de Cuisine Martyna Krowicka express their classic culinary technique, and create sophisticated, plates with rusticity that rely heavily on flavors and ingredients of the season. This includes using herbs from the Crystal Springs Chef’s Garden, and resourcing from local foragers. Restaurant Latour offers a 5 course “Anthology” menu, which allows you to make a not so easy selection from each category – Harvest, Aquatic, Grazing, Cheese, and Dessert. Or, cease your internal conflict, and opt for the Chef’s choice 7 course degustation menu.
If wine is not your thing, rising cocktail star Carlos Ruiz creates eclectic seasonal beverages that will compliment your
dinner, your taste buds, and will gleam like jewels as they are placed in front of you.
Many restaurants provide astonishing experiences, but only a few instill a sense of everlasting memory and admiration. The greatest attribute, however, is how Restaurant Latour demonstrates classic, old school hospitality. And they demonstrate it well. How many restaurants welcome you with freshly pressed napkins that are elegantly draped over your lap? Not many. How many restaurants present you with an array of perfectly sliced fruit – for your water? On a silver tray? Very few. Who knew there was an award winning wine cellar in Hamburg New Jersey? Well, I didn’t.
I can’t give myself too much credit for being the first to discover such a wonderful place, but, I will say it is well worth the jaunt.
Restaurant Latour @restaurant_latour
Thursday thru Sunday 5pm-10:30pm
Jackets recommended, no jeans, no children under 12.
Crystal Springs Resort:
3 Wild Turkey Way
Hamburg, New Jersey