World-renowned chef David Burke will soon bring his culinary creativity and his inventiveness with ingredients to South Orange with the opening of David Burke at Orange Lawn this spring.
The 140-year-old Orange Lawn Tennis Club is an Essex County landmark, and Burke’s presence should only elevate the site's name recognition not only locally, but perhaps in the Northeast.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a student of École Lenôtre Pastry School in Plaisir, France, Burke will offer a menu featuring modern American fare with Italian influences. The eatery will be open to the public through a dining club membership program. The club itself is private, and recently underwent significant renovations.
The restaurant should help enhance those upgrades.
“I am excited to partner with Orange Lawn Tennis Club on a new restaurant concept,” Burke said. “The thrill of creating inspiring new menus while showcasing some of my signature dishes is always something I look forward to.”
David Burke at Orange Lawn will be located in the newly renovated clubhouse, and his cuisine also will be available at the poolside 40 Love Pub.
Burke mastered French culinary technique more than a generation ago, but David Burke at Orange Lawn will offer a menu with an Italian accent, as well as many other dishes.
“In terms of my signature dishes, we will be serving my Clothesline Bacon, Lobster Dumplings, Pastrami Smoked Salmon, Dry-Aged Steak, Popovers, Octopus & Chorizo Kebab, Emotional Lobster, Crab Cake Pretzel, Cheesecake Pops and Chocolate Cake in a Tin Can,” Burke said. “We will also have seasonal and local fare, including lobster steamed in a bag with squid ink pasta, roast chicken, veal Milanese for the summertime, along with fresh and light fish dishes such as roasted branzino, scallops and octopus and Dover sole.”
Beverages will include a wide selection of wines and specialty cocktails, including a rye-based Advantage Lillet. Burke hopes that those will go well with the Modern American fare patrons will find on his menu.
“I specialize in Modern American cuisine with a contemporary and creative approach to classic fare,” Burke said. “I’m constantly elevating classic dishes to reflect current dining trends and finding ways to incorporate show-stopping presentations. At David Burke at Orange Lawn, you can expect Modern American cuisine with Mediterranean influences using local Jersey purveyors.”
Burke is involved with owning, operating or consulting for a number of restaurants in the region, but the attraction of opening one at Orange Lawn struck close to the chef's homegrown roots.
“My family left Brooklyn for New Jersey when I was just a kid, so I really grew up here,” he said. “One of my first jobs was as a dishwasher at the Fromagerie [in Rumson] — that’s when I fell in love with being in a kitchen. Many years later, after I had left the River Café and opened several of my own concepts in Manhattan, like David Burke & Donatella, I purchased the Fromagerie since it was so near and dear to me.
“Since then I’ve created many other local concepts such as Drifthouse Restaurant in Sea Bright and VENTANAS Restaurant and Lounge in Fort Lee. I currently live in Fort Lee as well, so I’m just 30 minutes away from the beautiful South Orange. I’m excited to be cooking for dining club members in the community and give them flavorful, beautiful and memorable dining experiences at David Burke at Orange Lawn.”
Burke was particularly enchanted with the idea of a restaurant in the village of South Orange.
“South Orange is a beautiful town, and I’m happy to be working with the wonderful owners including Bruce Schonbraun at Orange Lawn Tennis Club to serve delicious fare to dining club members,” Burke said. “I believe in the ownership group’s vision of updating the classic and storied club and look forward to being part of that change.”
An on-site garden will provide some of the homegrown ingredients for the dishes prepared at Orange Lawn.
“We have partnered with a local New Jersey farm, Well-Sweep Herb Farm, to grow a range of herbs and vegetables at our on-site garden that will be incorporated into seasonal dishes and cocktails at David Burke at Orange Lawn and 40 Love Pub,” Burke said. “We’ll have kaffir lime, golden pineapple sage, lemon verbena, stevia, lemon trees, kumquat trees and much more. We’ll also be growing assorted lettuce including red oak, green oak and butter crunch; yellow and red heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, kale, ramps and so on.”
Visit their website at dborangelawn.com.
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