Oct 21, 2020

Asbury Kitchen by David Burke Opens to Fanfare in the Face of Pandemic

It has been a hard year for restaurants, but the news is getting better. One of phoenixes of the culinary clan is the internationally acclaimed Chef David Burke, who courageously opened his new Asbury Kitchen in the face of the pandemic, and boy, are we glad he did. This pop-up spot was an instant hit, and it will now be a permanent fixture in the busy Asbury Park dining corridor.

The restaurant is in the old bank building, taking over the former Modine’s space. The impressive interior, with its towering windows and massive vault lock, leftover from the bank, set the stage for the drama and whimsy that is part of a Chef Burke experience. To the left is a long bar where a master mixologist creates grand cocktails and serves from the well-rounded wine list. The décor is simple, but we understand a renovation is in the near future, though I hope they don’t tamper with the beauty of the building too much. The staff is upbeat, and the equally proud management team paid several visits to our table, and they do have a lot to be excited about.

We began with three appetizers, starting with the Tuna Tartar Tacos, with a sesame ginger sauce and shaved vegetables. These are three small tacos, filled to the brim with sushi-grade tuna. The cool tuna against the lightly crisped tacos shells were fantastic. We also had the newly added Baby Kale Salad with softly sautéed butternut squash, farro, cranberries and Boursin cheese in a pecan vinaigrette. It tastes like the first breath of fall. Even the non-kale crowd will love this one. Our third was the Wings & Rings. This skyscraper of flavor is classic David Burke. It is gorgeous, with surprising plating and taste that is every bit as impressive – a wow!

Now for the entrées. Diner one indulged her yen for beef with the Skirt Steak which comes with crispy, cubed polenta fries and a pesto purée. It was everything she hoped for. She remarked at how tender the skirt steak was and how the deep char did not overcook the juicy beef. She also liked that the chef had sliced the beef, which enhanced its melt-in-your-mouth qualities.

Diner two heard about Chef Burke’s hamburgers. He’s pretty proud of his own burger blend, so he had to put this one to the test, and he humbly conceded that this was among the best burgers he has ever had. The grill, the cheese, even the roll all came together, and the shoestring French fries were a crispy companion. He said they were the closest duplicate to the pomme frites he enjoyed in France.

I chose the Salt Brick Chicken. OMG. Someone has to tell me how they made this chicken. The skin was fully rendered, a golden brown that was light and crunchy as a potato chip and incredibly flavored. The moist, boneless breast shares the plate with a sweet apricot barbecue glaze and the greens, which had such a well-developed flavor they put me in the Oktoberfest mood. This is a great choice.

We bolstered our dinners with the three combo of sides. We selected the yummy Spinach and Mushrooms as well as the Street Corn which was a fiesta of flavor. Each crispy, sweet kernel was enrobed in a mouth-watering combo of taste. Our third choice was the Hipster Fries, a Burke favorite. It is a big, digable basket of seasoned fries and goodies – great for sharing and so very good.

The thrilling and playful dessert menu is like going to the circus, complete with cotton candy. Cotton candy – who does that?! We had to try three. Our first was Scotty’s Salt Water Taffy Sundae, with butterscotch and vanilla ice cream, taffy caramel and topped with cotton candy. Ours came with apples instead of the blueberries and jelly beans mentioned on the menu, and we loved it. It was like the softest caramel apple ever! We also tried the Mini Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches with caramel sauce. Three sandwiches, three diners, three happy campers. Our third was the classic DB’s Famous Chocolate-Dipped Cheesecake Pops. This dramatic dessert is meant to be admired and shared. Each tasty cheesecake bite is encrusted with a different flavor chocolate shell, and it’s topped with cotton candy – a pure delight. The fresh and full-bodied coffee was fabulous too.

 

Cost – moderate to high

What we liked- The incredible flavors, the innovative use of ingredients, the amazing plating, the beautifully crafted cocktails, the delicious coffee, the attentive staff and management, the comfortable seating and the spirited energy.

 

We give it 5 Js

 

Asbury Kitchen is located at 601 Mattison Ave. in Asbury Park (in the old Modine’s and bank building). 732-893-5302. Hours are Monday, Wednesday through Sunday for dinner 4 to 10 pm and for happy hour 4 to 6 pm. Sunday brunch from 11 to 4 pm. Closed Tuesdays. AsburyKitchenByDB.com