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Jun 24, 2008 08:11 AM

5 Napkin Burger - Review

Whew! I apologize in advance for the long review!

I dropped by for dinner with two friends last night at 7pm and the place was pretty busy. The decor has been mentioned in a few other food sites, but it's certainly very bright and airy, with subway tiles all around and light fixtures in the form of meat hooks. The booths, however, leave something to be desired. A word of warning: You may get a great view when sitting at the booths, but the (narrow) tables have a center beam going along the floor, making it a challenge for anyone over 5'2" (like me) to position their feet in a normal manner. It felt like we were sitting in an amusement park ride throughout our meal. I would ask for a regular table next time.

Our very enthusiastic server came by shortly thereafter and pointed out the cocktails and wines at the back of the menu, making sure to plug his personal favorites. (The spicy melon marg and the pinot noir were reportedly *amazing*) We passed on the drinks, deciding instead consider our burger options. Our final orders were: the Original, the Inside-Out burger (no bun), and the Lamb Kofta burger. We were told that the chef recommends the burgers to be cooked medium-rare to medium, so we took his word for it, requesting that all our burgers be cooked medium-rare. Our server also pointed out that their burgers can take up to 25 minutes to prepare, so he suggested getting an appetizer or two to share. Since the sushi was also *amazing,* we went for the 5 Fish Narruto roll. And because no amount of cholesterol is ever enough, we also ordered the artichoke and mozzarella dip.

And now, the food: The dip was just okay, like something you'd get at Chili's, but to their credit, there were large chunks of artichoke, as opposed to slivers covered with cheesy goo. The Narruto roll was actually more like a Vietnamese summer roll, the sushi rice replaced with translucent rice paper. The presentation was lovely, and the components tasted fresh, but I couldn't help but wonder why I was eating sushi as a precursor to my burger. I can't imagine that anyone would come to a 'burger joint' looking for sushi, unless you're also looking to have the ahi tuna burger. I spied a bowl of the pork chili on a nearby table and I wished we had ordered that instead.

As promised, our burgers arrived about half an hour later, each served with a bowl of thin-cut fries. After closer inspection, we discovered that all of our burgers were closer to medium-well than medium-rare! But in any case, should ground chuck (I think that’s what they serve) really be cooked to medium-rare? Despite this, we eagerly dove into our burgers and found all three to be delicious. (Although the Inside-Out burger, which came wrapped in a lettuce leaf, looked odd at first.) My lamb burger was incredibly tasty, topped with chopped red onions and a green yoghurt sauce. The meat had clearly been ground in-house, always a good thing. But the Original was the evening’s winner, topped with comte and some other cheesy deliciousness that made me want to swoon. Oh, and the fries were also very good, crispy and salty. The little bowl they came in was empty all too soon.

All-in-all, it was a pleasant burger-eating experience, though the service element needs a few tweaks: we witnessed several food items falling off plates on their way to the tables (bigger plates, maybe?), and we definitely felt like we were being rushed out at the end of our meal. Still, I think this is a good addition to the neighborhood, and I’ll likely be back in the near future.

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  1. We were there over the past weekend and had a great time. Our server was also a bit over-enthusiastic and suggested a number of different drinks and appetizers. I was really impressed with their beer list actually, there were a number of great domestic beers that don't have "bud" or "light" in their name. We skipped appetizers but most of us got burgers - the cheddar and bacon burger was really tasty, but then again I'm a sucker for anything with bacon. I had the original 5 napkin burger and loved that even more with its carmalized onions and comte was awesome.
    The design of the space is nice too - I liked the hanging bulbs and meat hooks, very airy as well. Would definitely go back again - really want to try the Kofta burger as well.

    1. I was there last night as well and was very, very pleased with our meal. We shared the mussels which were well prepared in ale. We then had the namesake and the cheddar bacon burger. Both very well prepared and cooked to order -- medium rare. The juices kept running down my hand and arm as I was biting into it. The fries were OK, but way too salty. Listening to the rec of the waitress, we shared the brownie sundae which came with hunks of brownie, vanilla ice cream, caramel and salted peanuts. The salt really added another dimension to the dish. I was happy that the vanilla ice cream was not premium as it probably would have been too rich for me. The only thing that was a bit odd was that we received four huge hunks of bread served with a small sliver of butter (less than 1 TBS).

      And I was expecting service issues after reading several reports. But our service was very pleasant. We really didn't have to wait too long for our food. The waitress/busboys were very attentive. And the MOD (I think) pitched in, checking in on us twice. I think after reading complaints about the service, they're trying to do something about it.

      I know some people probably would balk at the prices, but I don't think it's that bad considering the quality and the amount of food that you get. These burgers are 10 oz -- they're huge -- enough for two! I think some people may take some issue because they're not used to paying $15 for a burger.

      Warning -- as the burgers are on the thick side, for those of you with jaw issues, just suffer for one night. It's worth it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Miss Needle

        Just wanted to add that I thought the burger/sushi thing is a bit odd. I think they're trying to achieve an upscale smaller Cheesecake Factory kind of menu where there's something for everyone. But I'd much rather have a raw bar than some Americanized sushi rolls.

      2. Went to 5 Napkin Burger tonight. I ordered the Vietnamese Vegetable Spring Roll and the 5 Napkin burger. Defiantly SKIP the roll. It was pretty bad- totally bland and completely flavorless. Not to mention there were 2 shrimp in the whole thing and it had a $9 price tag. But this is 5 Napkin BURGER after all, what did I expect. Burger comes. I try the fries first and are great, thin, crispy and not too greasy. Now about to tackle this massive burger, after pulling of the tomato after asking for no tomato. I bite into this beautifully tall burger to find it very overdone. I asked for medium rare then changed it to rare. The burger was medium almost medium well. They only pink on the whole thing was on the opposite side to where I started from. I have never seen that before a medium burger on one side, medium in the middle, and medium rare on another end. All in all it was tasty but too many little disappointments.