After visiting Chef David Burke’s newly-opened Orange Lawn not too long ago, I was eager to try out his fusion restaurant, VENTANAS Restaurant and Lounge in Fort Lee. Chef Burke, alongside New Jersey restaurateur Alex Duran (of Son Cubano), opened Ventanas back in early 2019 which resides at the base of Fort Lee’s The Modern. It’s a mash-up of American, Asian and Cuban cuisine with an urban vibe that rivals any NYC hotspot.
I recently attended a wine dinner at VENTANAS in Fort Lee presented by Riedel, where guests were treated to a wine seminar and tasting, followed by a three-course dinner by Chef Burke. The night celebrated Riedel’s “performance” line of glassware to which they described as—the “ultimate loudspeaker for fine wine.” Each of the glasses have a unique optical effect, which appeals not only to the eye but also the palate and allows the wine to showcase every aroma and nuance.
During my dinner, wine educators Gerry Piserchia and Julio Ruiz led guests through four grape varietal specific glassware options, explaining how their shape and design hit parts of the tongue and nose differently. We took turns sampling Sauvignon Blanc Flora Springs, Napa Valley 2017; Chardonnay, Hartford Court, Russian River 2017; Eola-Amity Hills, Pinot Noir, Roserock, Willamette Valley 2015; and Forefather’s Cabernet Sauvignon “Lone Tree,” Alexander Valley 2017. The magic behind it all was pouring each wine into a glass it wasn’t meant to be in and comparing the two side-by-side, the difference being almost night and day.
When the seminar finished, we were treated to dinner which included family-style appetizers such as Chef Burke’s signature clothesline bacon, tuna tartare tacos in crispy wonton shells and salmon crudo with crispy fried avocado. For mains, we were given a choice of a filet, herb roasted chicken or branzino. I, like many others in my company, ordered the filet. Last but not least (and certainly my favorite part, aside from the wine) was dessert. Out came Chef Burke’s cheesecake lollipop trees in assorted flavors, as well as petite berry tarts and sparkling Moscato.
The night finished with guests packing up the very same Riedel glasses we tasted with, and I can say that my wine glass collection is nearly complete and knowing what I know now, I’d be hard pressed to drink wine out of anything else.