SENIORS GET A NEW TAKE ON BURGERS

Residents and staffers at the Atrium line up for burgers and fixings Wednesday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

The chef from Beasty Burgers, one of Red Bank’s suddenly-ubiquitous burger joints, popped in at the Atrium at Navesink Harbor Wednesday to showcase his restaurant and teach the senior-citizen residents a thing or two about the state of the modern burger.

Mike Ross gave a short presentation on his innovative menu and cooking methods, and also offered advice on spicing up old favorites while letting the residents and Atrium workers sample some of his delicious burgers and side-dishes.

“Everyone knows that french fries go with burgers – it’s pretty much a given nowadays,” Ross told a packed conference room at the luxury high-rise on Riverside Avenue. “At Beasty, we try to show people that there are so many great complements to burgers besides the standard order of french fries.”

To illustrate his point, Ross brought along trays of some his house favorites, including roasted brussel sprouts with applewood smoked bacon, broccoli rabe with roasted garlic and hot peppers, and sweet-potato tater tots.

In addition to a bevy of unconventional side dishes, Ross also gave the low-down on the method he developed to cook his burgers.

“Most places cook their burger on an open flame, which can sometimes lead to a burnt, dry piece of meat – I call it the ‘hockey-puck’ effect,” Ross said. “I developed a technique of searing and poaching the meat in au jus sauce, locking in flavor and juiciness. No matter how you like your burger cooked, it comes out juicy and delicious.

Instead of traditional cheese, Beasty uses a signature “GSC” sauce, which consists of Guinness, sharp cheddar, roasted shallots and a garlic topping, he said.

Audience members eagerly chomped down the food as Ross described his process, and many jumped at the chance to ask the chef’s advice on some of their own dishes.

One woman wanted an alternative to the tired option of coleslaw to pair with her specialty crab imperial. Ross recommended not scrapping the coleslaw all together, but instead sprucing it up with some wasabi or cilantro. Another woman inquired whether Beasty’s fried green tomatoes were as good as the one’s she grew up with.

Shoronda Clark, activities coordinator at the Atrium, said the residents there couldn’t get enough of Ross and his unique blend of flavors.

“Everyone is dropping what they’re doing to come over,” she said. “Some of the ladies even stopped their mahjong game – so you know it must be something special.”

Asked what he hoped to gain from the visit, Ross said he was hopeful that he could teach some of the seniors about modern cooking techniques, as well as possibly win some new business for his restaurant, which opened last May in Broad Street space shared with No Joe’s Cafe.

“I just want to generate some buzz around town, and hopefully draw more people into Red Bank for a different type of dining experience,” he said, as the seemingly impressed residents and workers polished off the last of his sliders.

Beasty Burgers plans to open an additional spot in Asbury Park in the near future, Ross said.