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.
- Food: A
- Service: A-
- Atmosphere: A-
- Price: B+
GPA: 3.725 (A-)