Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Five Napkin (at least) Burger

The namesake burger at Five Napkin is a 10 oz. patty of fresh ground chuck blanketed with gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and rosemary aioli on a toasted brioche bun.

Five Napkin Burger (35-01 36th St.)
(718) 433-2727

Despite a name that implies German roots, ever since it first appeared on an American menu in 1826 at Delmonico's in New York, very few edibles are heralded to be quite so iconically All-American as a good old-fashioned hamburger.  Joining the trend that has locals whispering that Astoria just might be the new burger capital of NYC comes one of Manhattan's most successful versions, Five Napkin Burger.

The Astoria location marks the third Five Napkin Burger for Andy D'Amico and Simon Oren since the original 2008 opening on the outskirts of Manhattan's theater district.  But even before that in 2003, the Five Napkin Burger was a sandwich at older sister restaurant Nice Matin on the Upper West Side that became so wildly popular, the owners decided it needed it's own stage.

The Astoria location will open its doors to the public in just a few hours (only serving dinner this first week starting at 5pm with lunches starting next week), but last night I was offered a coveted invitation to the opening preview party.  It's a rough job, but we sampled nearly twenty of the menu offerings that will soon be devoured on a daily basis at the new Studio Square location.  And yes, I mean devoured.  Five Napkin Burger is quite honestly phenomenal.

One of the shiny facets of this new Astoria gem that will set it apart from other burger joints is the gorgeous bar, which features several specialty cocktails, nearly 80 beers, almost 100 different wines, and close to 50 different bourbons.  Whether burger novice or connoisseur, there's something to wash  it down for any level of diner.

The apricot fizz was a refreshing spin on a bellini, with fresh pureed apricots and sparkling wine.

The room is very similar to its older sister in Midtown, with white tiled walls and light bulbs dangling from giant meat hooks.  It runs the gamut from butcher locker to French bistro to upscale diner.  The waitstaff and host stand handled the event as if they'd been taking care of guests here for years.  It was an impressive evening, but the real star was the food.  The following is just a sample of what we tried, all of which is available on the menu.

Hands down, my favorite appetizer at 5NB is the deep-fried pickles and pastrami served with sauerkraut and mustard oil.  If you thought you liked fried pickles, wait until you try this golden mini-feast.

The handcrafted sushi is quite simply delicious.  Above is the California Rainbow roll with king crab, mango, and cucumber, topped with avocado and either tuna, salmon, or in this case, yellowtail,

The shrimp tempura roll is garnished with cucumber, radish sprout, and avocado.

Adding a unique depth of texture, the spicy salmon roll is polka dotted with crunchy puffed rice.

For only $4.75, you really need to order the tater tots.  The Five Napkin "tot" is actually one of the most delicious mini-croquettes I've ever enjoyed, the crispy coating breaking way to smooth and creamy herbed whipped potatoes.

Cornmeal dusted onion rings are actually stacked in a tower like a Christmas tree.

Another particularly savory and delicious starter is the beer-braised pulled pork taquitos with queso fresco and pico di gallo.

Hot spinach & Artichoke dip is served with spears of endive and French bread crostini.

The Vietnamese shrimp & salad roll is lighter starter, and a refreshing take on a summer spring roll.

The Italian Turkey Burger wins my award for best turkey burger around, crowned with melted mozzarella, spicy tomato sauce, and vinegar peppers on a sesame roll.  Though all of the burgers range from around $11 to $20 (the burger for two is a full pound!) remember that these monster sandwiches are accompanied with french fries, and topped with unique gourmet fixins that make them a real standout from the competition.

Lobster roll sliders come three to a dish, piled with tender Maine Lobster tossed in 5N mayo, scallions, and cucumber on toasted brioche.

The lamb kofta burger is certain to be an Astoria favorite, dressed with a Mediterranean salad of chopped tomato, cucumber, pepper, and onions with a drizzle of tahini sauce on a fluffy white roll.

I have finally found a veggie burger I may actually order from time to time.  This tangy patty is laced with herbs and sundried tomatoes, all topped with b&b pickles and 5N sauce (quite similar to thousand island dressing).

5NB also offers an impressive array of several other dishes (their 5N footlong kobe beef dog has been my favorite frank in the city for years), from entree salads to fish 'n chips, from steak frites to a S'Mores milkshake.  Sharing the same city block as the beer garden, and just two minutes from the Astoria-Kaufman movie theater, Five Napkin Burger has surely found a recipe for success.  Although I'm still quite full from last night's feast, you may even see me there later today.  This place is exceptionally delicious.

PLEASE NOTE: This week for the opening, they will only be serving dinner.  Lunch begins next week... so if you go before the full opening, they open at 5pm.

Five Napkin Burger on Urbanspoon


Tink said...

Think I need to go here for dinner tonight :)

Fooditka said...

Your pics definitely do it justice. Nice job!

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