Building Better Burgers: Drew’s Bayshore Bistro

At the Keyport standout known for its Southern and Cajun food, chef Andrew Araneo serves an exceptionally juicy and satisfying signature burger.

The winter special Bistro Burger at Drew's Bayshore Bistro in Keyport, NJ, at the north end of the Jersey Shore.
The winter special Bistro Burger at Drew's Bayshore Bistro in Keyport.
Photo: Andrea Clurfeld

This is the first in an occasional series on the state of the art of that beloved Jersey, and American, staple, the hamburger.

Andrew “Drew” Araneo of Drew’s Bayshore Bistro in Keyport believes in going whole-hog when he creates a dish. (Not surprisingly, he’s known for his pork du jour specials.) So when he does a burger, you can expect he’s going whole-cow.

He starts with a custom beef grind: hanger steak and brisket, with a dollop of chuck. For the burger maven, it’ll be love at first bite.

The Bistro Burger winter special at Drew's Bayshore Bistro in Keyport, NJ, at the north end of the Jersey Shore.

The Bistro Burger at Drew’s. Photo: Andrea Clurfeld

But hurry! The Bistro Burger is being offered only this winter on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights on Araneo’s $35 three-course fixed-price dinner menu.

Araneo, a  James Beard Award nominee whose Bayshore Bistro is an NJM  Top 25 Restaurant, cooks the burger on a griddle for a firm char. Juicy to the max, it’s redolent of beef and more beef, slapped with American cheese, slathered with bacon-onion jam and topped with house-made pickle slices on a brioche bun.

Last Wednesday night, it was clear I wasn’t the only burger junkie who’d gotten word of this creation.

The dining room was packed. Many folks were, like me, trying to guess what goes into the Araneo-divined “secret sauce.”

The chef won’t say.

But he ‘fesses up to adding a bit of yellow mustard. Given the sauce’s rosy Russian-dressing hue, my fellow burger junkies were thinking a squirt or three of ketchup as well. My table mates were using it as a dip for Araneo’s hand-cut fries, which he will serve with mayo for heathens like me.

While the burger is reason enough for a mid-week pilgrimage, the $35 three-course prix-fixe has a half-dozen options in both appetizers and entrees—including Araneo’s creamy/spicy Voodoo Shrimp, which won an episode of Throwdown! With Bobby Flay, and his ever-popular City Jambalaya.

I decided to inch up to the whopping burger with a lighter dish, mussels in a white wine broth  speckled with garlic and shallots. The mussels were expertly cooked and the scented broth so flavorful I drank it like a cocktail.

The popular chicken and gravy, with its andouille sausage cream gravy, is a fine choice for those who aren’t chronically on the burger trail.

Finales?

You’ll choose from three. We loved our beignets, served in a paper-lined, cone-shaped gizmo, and our creamsicle sundae, a melange of homemade orange and vanilla ice creams

Drew’s Bayshore Bistro, 25 Church Street, Keyport. 732-739-9219.  drewsbayshorebistro.com. Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday.

Editor’s Note:  Do you know of a “better burger”? Tell me about it. Include where it’s served and what makes it a cut above the common. Email to me at [email protected].

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