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Red Horse By David Burke At The Bernards

Phase one of the multi-million-dollar renovation project breathed new life into the space while paying homage to the 116-year-old building’s bones and character. For example, the main dining room’s design has a whole new look while embracing a magnificent, original floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, impressive dark wood molding, and original windows – all works of art.

“Chef Burke’s renovation invigorates the property with a sensitive eye on its past,” said Jean Marie Philippou, owner of Banyan Consulting, Garden City, NY, who supervised the renovation project. “White marble-topped bar, white bar stools and banquettes, the dark brown molding with Chef Burke’s signature interior red highlights and exquisite lighting bring fresh fun to the room but are not in conflict with it. This is one of Chef Burke’s most stunning concepts. It’s eye-popping, exciting and inviting!”

Earlier this year, Chef Burke entered a partnership with Hampshire Destination Properties, LLC, a subsidiary of The Hampshire Companies, which has owned The Bernards Inn since 2006. David Burke Hospitality Management oversees the food and beverage and will eventually operate the 20-room inn.

Red Horse is a spinoff of his award-winning flagship restaurant by the same name in Rumson, which opened in March 2021 at the legendary Fromagerie. Red Horse and 1776 by David Burke, Morristown, were named “The Best 30 Restaurants in New Jersey” by NJ Monthly in 2022 and 2023.

The name came from a painting of a red horse by Tuan Tran that Chef Burke discovered in the early gloomy days of the pandemic in New Hope, PA. He bought it knowing that the image would one day become a theme for a restaurant, and indeed it has. Bernardsville, like Rumson, is a favored community where horses play a significant role in its lifestyle.

“We are all very excited about this project,” said Chef Burke. “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 greatly respected this property and its contributions to New Jersey’s fine dining scene. The area’s residents are well-traveled, sophisticated diners who want a relaxed yet refined place to dine nearby. So, for the concept, I looked to the old horse country feel and the graciousness that came with that era invigorated by my playful style. The décor reflects the equine interest of the area from my signature red and white horse tack wallpaper and a variety of original works of equine-themed art. I also commissioned Tuan to paint a larger version of the original Red Horse painting for Bernards Inn.”

Regarding the menu, Chef Burke said it featured premium local and global seasonal ingredients from truffles from Italy to bison from New Jersey’s Fossil Farms. And local Garden State products from land and sea, including roasted local chicken from Griggstown Farms to East and West oysters, and even from Barnegat Bay. There will be a variety of cuts of Chef Burke’s U.S. patented Pink Himalayan salt dry-aged prime beef, lobster with pasta, sushi, and whole roasted fish. Although enjoyed at the end of a great meal, Chef Burke’s desserts are never an afterthought. In addition to being a CIA graduate, he is an alumnus of the world’s most highly regarded pastry school, École Lenôtre Pastry School in Plaisir, France. He promises his desserts will be among the best in the state, as they are at all his other restaurants.

Another dining area with its side entrance leading to the former wine room/cellar area will be a fun speakeasy/supper club/music venue. The Bernie will bring lively entertainment to the area with a casual vibe featuring themed nights like comedy shows, musical entertainment including piano music, jazz ensembles and acoustic music, lecture series, wine dinners, trivia nights, and Chef Burke’s popular Dine in the Dark dinners.

During the warmer seasons, drinks and food will be served on the patio decorated with lush plantings and pleasing street views. There is also a more formal and larger event space – a favored intimate wedding destination for many – for private, elegant affairs with a 200-seat capacity, which will be updated later. The lobby will have a large VIP table with a glass top and tree trunk base perfect for community seating or chef’s tastings, and some aspects of Chef Burke’s style are woven throughout the room.

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