So, it all started with a discussion with my friend David about Korean BBQ and a "let's set a date for that!" No, 5 Napkin Burger does not serve Korean BBQ, but it gives you the setting for what would be a wonderful evening. The date was set, but our friends asked to go to 5 Napkin as they heard about it and were eager to try their juicy burger. After a quick reservation on OpenTable, here we are, at their location near Union Square. We were five people: Jodi, Ciara, David and Caleb. Five, an odd number restaurants do not like as it can mean losing a seat. Well, what they have done there was to sit us at a booth and bring an extra chair at the head of the table: not the most comfortable setting for sure, especially for the person sitting there...
At 5 Napkin Burger, instead of bringing you a bread basket to start, they bring you a bowl of pickles, good pickles, reminiscent of delis.
I started of with a cocktail and hesitated between the French 55 (for an obvious reason and no, I am not 55!) and the 5N Manhattan, made with woodford reserve bourbon, carpano antica vermouth, citrus-bathed glass & fee brothers orange bitters. For that drink, the only negative was the glass (I hate these glasses that are always filled to the top); it was a delicious drink, with the right amount of bourbon and a nice bitterness.
We then got our burgers. Normally, I would have gone with their signature, the "original 5 Napkin" that is made with gruyère, caramelized onions and a rosemary mayo, a burger so juicy and messy that you will need more than one napkin, hence the name of the restaurant. No, this time, I wanted to try their merguez burger. Merguez is a lamb sausage often used in North African cuisine, couscous and ravine especially, and that people from France like to grill. In New York, you can find few places where they serve them with eggs or in a sandwich, like Marseille or Chez Felix. I was curious about the merguez burger, because the first time I tried one was at the now closed Combina in TriBeCa and it was amazing. Merguez are quite greasy, so it can give you a very juicy patty. The patty at 5 Napkin was a mix between the lamb sausage and beef, surrounded by pickles, oregano roasted tomatoes and an harissa yogurt. The first bite was really good: first, you get the crunch and sourness of the pickles, then the strong taste of the merguez and juiciness of the patty. The harissa yogurt was not spicy for me and balanced well the lamb. Is it the most amazing burger, especially compared to Combina? No, it was very good and is a great choice if you want to try something more exotic, but I prefer their original that is out of this world.
Jodi on the other hand went for the avocado ranch burger, but, instead of pepper jack cheese, she chose cheddar, change that they accommodated without any issue. This burger had cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomato and ranch sauce. It was quite good, but extremely messy!
As sides, we decided to share French fries, as well as their onion ring tower, served with their 5 Napkin sauce and blue cheese sauce. Both were pretty good, but I admit that my preference went to the onion rings that were delightfully greasy, crispy and cooked all the way through.
Last was dessert and I could not resist ordering a cookies and cream milkshake that was delicious.
We had a great time at 5 Napkin Burger: the food was as good as the company!
Enjoy (I did)!
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5 Napkin Burger - 150 E 14th Street, New York, NY10003