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“5 Napkin Burger”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out New American Hell's Kitchen Moderate Good

There’s a certain level of expectation created when naming a restaurant “5 Napkin Burger.” You’ve gotta be really confident in your burger ‘cause there’s no room for a wimpy patty here. Would you name a lingerie store “Cleavage,” and expect to find racks of 32As? Nope. Similarly, the expectation at 5 Napkin is for a buxom burger, a beef masterpiece so fat, so juicy, so over-the-top and wonderfully messy, that it will cause you to reach for not one, not two, but five heavy duty napkins to rein it in. It’s a gamble to put a burger under pressure like this, but it’s one that chef Andy D’Amico and front of house partner Robert Guarino (Nizza, Marseilles) decided was a worthy challenge for their latest restaurant, a neighborhood bar and grill in Hell’s Kitchen. I am happy to report that in my last visit, all five napkins were needed and used in devouring my burger.

But I’d had this 5 Napkin Burger before, at Nice Matin, where it was first introduced. But not unlike a Broadway starlet, since it’s become the star of the show at 5 Napkin, it’s had some work done. It’s still ten ounces, but for this version Andy played with the fat content of the meat (bringing it up) and switched to Angus beef. The result is a juicier, meatier burger that deserves the spotlight. It’s a heavyweight, and it’s more than just a patty, it’s thick and round, almost more like a burger-as-cupcake. And as you’d imagine, this big boy is not left naked. It’s dressed to the nines—topped with a relatively insane amount of gooey melting fondue-like Comte cheese and a shock of sweet caramelized onions. To me, it’s the bastard love child of a burger and a bowl of French onion soup, sans the soup—so you just get a sweet soft tangle of caramelized onions and the hot and bubbly oozing cheesy topping. It’s heaven in there, between the buns.

Speaking of buns, a burger of this stature cannot be contained by ordinary ones. Indeed, the soft white bun it’s served inside began to disintegrate under its weight. And so, while delicious, the burger at some point got out of control. It dripped all over my hands (Napkins! Napkins!), and was creating a warm cheese and onion fondue pond on my plate. But a brilliant idea hit me midway through the burger, as I watched the cheese and onions continue to slip out the sides. Instead of having ... [more, click below]

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+ Nizza   + 5 Napkin Burger   + Danji   

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