The Saucy Scholar

Archive for the category “nyc-manhattan”

News Update!

These are exciting times over here at The Saucy Scholar–it’s (almost) officially summer, The Boyfriend graduated (again), and I’ve finished/survived my first year as a doctoral student! Even though I’ve still got a qualifying exam coming up, you can expect to see even more updates and recipes for decadent desserts, refreshing summertime drinks, and light and satisfying meals. I’m also thinking of adding a few new weekly features, so stay tuned.

Also, this is actually old news, but 5 Napkin Burger featured my review of their Hell’s Kitchen location on their Facebook page back in January!  If you haven’t already, take a gander at my review and drop by any of their NYC/Boston/Miami locations. Now that I’m back in the neighborhood, I will almost certainly be paying them another visit.

That’s all for now,

The Saucy Scholar

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Ess-A-Bagel: Sometimes, A Bagel Is Just A Bagel

As a native New Yorker, I’ve oft been ridiculed for never going to the “real” bagel joints in the city. For me, bagels are simply a neighborhood thing, a weekend breakfast food that you pick up on a short walk, along with a cup of coffee and the day’s paper. While I have had the privilege of living near some excellent bagel shops (especially in Queens), I’ve never lived near any of the more famous ones, and so I never had reason to make the trip. Then, on one of my Fridays off, B brought me to Ess-A-Bagel in Midtown East after an early afternoon workout. While it was not the epiphanic moment I had been almost hoping for, it was a solid bagel and certainly better than what many of the delis and other breakfast places in the area have to offer. Also, all of their bagels (and most everything on their menu) is certified kosher.

Eager to go on a carb binge after a long cardio workout, I opted for the Nova Lox sandwich on a Cinnamon-Raisin Bagel. (I know, I’m crazy, and I don’t blame you if this causes you to lose faith in my review. It’s a taste I acquired at some point, what can I say?) In any case, I highly recommend this particular sandwich on the bagel of your choice. The cream cheese was generously applied but not overwhelming, the lettuce was fresh, and the lox was particularly outstanding. My only disappointment, actually, was the bagel itself–it wasn’t stale, but it was noticeably hard. Still, the Nova Lox made it thoroughly enjoyable, and now I’m curious to try the Belly Lox next time.

B and I ate our bagels there, which worked out fairly well since it wasn’t a particularly busy time of day. The line was long but moved quickly, and though seating is a little cramped at this location we found a table just fine. Service was short and surly–but at a New York bagel shop, that’s sometimes how it should be, especially when it helps move the line along. And finally, I don’t always comment on bathrooms, but theirs was impeccably clean. So clean in fact, that I was kind of embarrassed thinking about the condition of my own.

Domestic woes aside, Ess-A-Bagel is well worth a visit, and I would consider anyone who is able to make it their neighborhood bagel stop very lucky indeed. While the one particular bagel I had was not especially life-changing, they have an impressive selection of cream cheeses, fish, and salads, and all of these looked fresh and delicious.

Report Card

  • Food: B+
  • Coffee:B+
  • Service: B
  • Atmosphere: A-

GPA: 3.425 (B+)

Five Napkin Burger: Believe the Hype

Since moving to the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City, I’ve become something of a burger snob, if there can be such a thing–between the sudden popularity of gourmet sliders at the local gastropubs and the abundance of excellent burger joints in the area, it takes a lot for a burger to impress me these days. After hearing all the rave reviews of the 9th Avenue location of Five Napkin Burger, I was ready to write the place off as just another overpriced tourist trap–but after my Uncle invited us to dinner there last night, I realized why the place is nearly always filled to capacity. The reason is pictured below:

Original 5 Napkin Burger

The Original 5 Napkin Burger, hands down, is definitely one of the tastiest burgers I’ve had. Weighing in at 10 ounces and cooked to perfection (this is one of those places where medium actually means medium), it was already a cut above the rest. The rosemary aioli was, quite literally, the icing on the cake. (I didn’t know what it was at the time, other than delicious, but aioli is a mayonnaise-type sauce that is popular in Provence, and usually consists of garlic, olive oil, and an egg as the emulsifying agent.)

However, fancy mayo alone does not a perfect burger make. The Original 5 Napkin also comes with melted gruyere cheese and a generous portion of caramelized onions, a mouth-watering combination to be sure. My uncle had a special burger that wasn’t on the menu, and I believe was only being offered last night–it was very similar to the Original, but Italian style–mozzarella cheese, roasted bell peppers, and pesto aioli. I didn’t taste it myself, but there was not a crumb left on his plate by the time he was through.

As for the dining experience itself, it was well above average. When we were originally seated next to the door (on the first legitimately cold night of the winter), the hostess was able to find a new spot for us, even during prime dinner hours, and our waitress was friendly and attentive. I felt that the service was almost a little too quick, but that’s understandable on a weeknight around 7, 7:30pm at a place like this. The dining area is a combination of upscale restaurant and burger joint–cloth napkins and dim lighting, with naked Edison bulbs and meat hooks hanging from the ceiling. They have a full bar, but their beer selection is where it’s at–the Five Napkin Nut Brown Lager is full-bodied and flavorful, but light enough to be the perfect accompaniment to their rich, juicy burgers.

The only real downside for me was the price, but, by New York City standards, it’s not the most expensive burger around, but it is also not your typical weeknight comfort food fare. My advice would be to go in with a full wallet and an empty stomach, and you certainly won’t be disappointed.

Report Card:

  • Food: A
  • Service: A-
  • Atmosphere: A-
  • Price: B+

GPA: 3.725 (A-)

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