Restaurant Latour: Exquisite Destination Dining in Northeastern New Jersey
One of the best restaurants in the New York metro area is an hour from Manhattan, in rural New Jersey. Yes, rural: this is the Garden State, after all.
Restaurant Latour Crystal Springs is one of the most honored restaurants in the tristate area. And it boasts one of the USA's most extensive high-end wine cellars: 135,000 bottles.
How high does Latour rate? From 2014 through 2016 alone, the restaurant earned these peak honors:
• The rare "Excellent" rating from The New York Times
• Four stars from the Newark Star-Ledger
• Wine Spectator's Grand Award (since 2008)
• Inclusion in Wine Enthusiast's “America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants”
• And New Jersey Monthly's annual list of 25 Best Restaurants in the state (for many years)
Why Would a New Yorker, or City Visitor, Travel an Hour for Dinner?
Because Restaurant Latour is an escape for the senses -- and an elegant respite from the brash trendiness of Manhattan dining.
Restaurant Latour is more than a meal. It's a total, timeless, body-and-soul experience. I mean:
• Fantastic food
• Magnificent wine
• Suave, one-on-one service
• A tranquil, elegant, romantic dining room framing sunset over the Kittatinny Mountains
Restaurant Latour's Resort Setting Means a Country Getaway
The restaurant is set in Crystal Springs Resort, a high-end golf and spa resort.
• Most diners spend the night at Crystal Springs, making dinner the centerpiece of a sensual escape
• The resort offers overnight-and-dinner deals, especially for Thursday nights
• The week is four nights long at Restaurant Latour: dinner is served Thursday through Sunday
Sunday dinner is the insiders' pick.
• Sunday night diners are treated to a special experience: a 5 P.M. tour of the wine cellar, followed by a glass of bubbly and a bite from Chef Bucco's menu on the house
Meet Anthony Bucco, Kitchen Magician at Restaurant Latour
Anthony Bucco, Brilliant Chef of Restaurant Latour
Anthony Bucco became Executive Chef of Restaurant Latour in spring of 2015.
Chef Bucco, a New Jersey native, previously helmed several of the state's top restaurants.
• Among them: the revered Ryland Inn, where he earned the almost unheard-of four stars from New Jersey Monthly editor (and Luxury Travel Guest Author) Eric Levin
The Cuisine at Restaurant Latour
Chef Bucco's deluxe approach combines the best aspects of modern luxury cuisine. It's so simple, yet so right.
His kitchen's perfectionism and insistence on luscious ingredients will remind you of luxurious French cuisine. Yet Chef Bucco's dishes are all his own: endlessly creative and unique.
• His style is innovative, but not extreme
• His sensible approach: "Menu items need to make sense for our time and place"
How Chef Bucco Super-Charges Flavors
This chef is not a minimalist. Nor does he seek to deconstruct recipes or reinvent ingredients, like molecular chefs.
Chef Bucco starts with superlative, fresh-as-can-be ingredients and adds vision and masterful cooking.
• He told me: "Culinary inspiration comes from sourcing well and using ingredients that are hand-picked in our forests or harvested in our farms"
• Much of what he cooks with is from Latour's 56-acre Green Valley Farm onsite, or from nearby New Jersey sources
Chef Bucco's recipes are deceptively simple, and change with the season's offerings.
• Take, for example, a seafood dish: lush squid, sweet strawberry, peppery watercress
• This simple combination will take your breath away with its stunning freshness and extravagant flavor
Chef Bucco's Two Menus at Restaurant Latour
You should bring an appetite for great food to Latour. You'll be dining on multi-course menus.
The five-course “Anthology” menu, with a prix fixe of $115 (as of 2016) • This menu allows diners to choose dishes in each course
• Courses focus on different kinds of foods: vegetables; seafood; meat; cheese; dessert
The seven-course Chef’s Tasting menu ($145) spotlights the day's freshest foods: here today, served tonight.
Course-by-course wine pairings are an option.
• Most diners go for it: Restaurant Latour is world-famous in wine circles
• "The kitchen and front of house team work very hard together to maximize our food-and-wine pairings," says Chef Bucco
Service at Restaurant Latour
Service at Restaurant Latour is unhurried by design. Yet there's so much excitement coming to you on the plate, the experience perks right along.
• The leisurely meal -- served in multi-course tasting menus, usually with wine pairings -- occupies several enchanted hours
• "Guests get to really take their time and savor all that we do," says Chef Bucco (I agree!)
• And diners get a chance to pay their respects to this creator. "I try and visit each table on a nightly basis," he promises
Next: Restaurant Latour's globally renowned wine cellar
Restaurant Latour's Wine Cellar, the Most In-Depth in the USA
The Wine at Restaurant Latour
If you love wine, you will be in heaven here. Restaurant Latour's wine program is its longtime claim to fame.
• "Restaurant Latour has always been an amazing wine destination, and rightfully so," says the chef. "The wine cellar tells a story, a story that needs to be acknowledged and respected"
The Famous Wine Cellar
The resort's renowned, vast wine cellar is a museum of wine, only here you can taste the art.
• The collection was undertaken by Crystal Springs' late founder, oenophile Gene Mulvihill
• "Each bottle has history, and from a hospitality standpoint we get to share that with our guests," says Chef Bucco. "Understanding the wine and demystifying the cellar is a big responsibility. And it definitely translates into memorable experiences"
Take the Wine Tour at Latour!
Restaurant diners and resort guests are invited to take tours of the Wine Cellar and its historic collections. Some Latour wine cellar facts to whet your wine palate:
• 135,000 bottles; 9,100 labels; vintages going back to 1795
Legend in a Bottle
Do you crave mellow Bordeaux châteaux wines, refined Burgundy Grand Crus, bold Napa and Sonoma Cabernets, and earthy Super-Tuscans? You will be in heaven here.
• An example: the restaurant's namesake, Château Latour, is represented by over 100 years of vintages, commencing with 1863
• The cellar is exactingly and lovingly curated by wine director Robby Younes and Sommelier Susanne Lerescu
• And in the restaurant, wines are flawlessly described, presented, and chosen for pairings by Latour manager and mixologist Stephen Thomas
• You can order over 40 wines by the glass
• And you can search the entire collection on an intricately cross-indexed iPad wine list
• For a private event, you can reserve the cellar's private dining rooms: The Bordeaux and the Grand Cru (with a food and drink minimum)
• Sneak preview: wine cellar video tour