A 5 Napkin Brunch
5 Napkin Burger
35-01 36th St., Astoria
Hours: 11:30 am-11 pm Mon-Thu; 11:30 am-midnight Fri; 11 am-midnight Sat; 11 am-11 pm Sun
Credit Cards: All Major
Reservations: Yes, Open Table
The burger: in its more pure form, it is a delicious, drippy taste explosion of beef – you decide your favorite toppings. Some prefer to drape it with condiments, layer it with a variety of veggies or simply eat it bare, enjoying the mix of meat and char.
It is no wonder, then, that burger joints have been popping up all over the place. One of the City’s premier burger hotspots opened an outpost in Astoria this past year, across from the newly renovated Museum of the Moving Image, but to set itself apart from the madding crowd, it has reminded customers that it has chefs, originality and creativity on its menu; in short, it’s not just a burger joint.
The humorously-named 5 Napkin Burger – a fairly apt description of their mainstay, the signature version of which is topped with Gruyere cheese, caramelized onion and rosemay aioli – has melded its fare with the resurgent brunch concept to offer a menu that will delight carnivores and critics alike.
Yes, for brunch you can still get your burgers – in beef, lamb and tuna form (though the Inside Out and Veggie versions don’t make the brunch menu) – but 5N offers a wide range of other dishes specially prepared for the glassy-eyed and groggy. A new Bloody Mary bar allows diners to create their own version of the classic concoction, with a wide range of fresh mixtures all prepared to order. Try the straight tomato, horseradish and celery stalk with a spear of bleu cheese-stuffed olives. Don’t worry – the vodka’s already in there. Bellinis and Mimosas are also ready for the asking.
If you’re into appetizers at brunch time, the Hell’s Kitchen Wings will certainly wake you up, and the Chicken Noodle Matzoh Ball Soup will warm you from head to toe, but my guests and I decided to go with the Pork Taquitos and split an entrée of the Macaroni and Cheese. The taquitos came in a row of six, with pernil-style pork filling tiny fresh-made shells, topped with queso fresco, sour cream and salsa. Each of these two-bite delights offered a symphony for the palate – crunchy meets silky, sweet blends with heat.
The Mac and Cheese comes in a large bowl with shell pasta baked in a mix of cheddar and gruyere, swirling in a sea of parmesan cream with hints of onion and leek. The bubbling mix is certainly a great meal for one, but split between the three it offered spoonfuls of homey goodness to prep us for our main dishes.
My first guest, visiting from Virginia, had never experienced 5N before, so she went straight for the Brunch Burger, a generous 10 oz. of ground beef topped with ham, American Cheese and a fried egg, slathered with the proprietary 5N sauce (a sweet and spicy ketchup blend), and served on a sesame bun. It was a revelation, and I fear we have ruined her for any future burgers she may enjoy down South. Perhaps it can be viewed as a play on Steak and Eggs (which is also on the menu), but the burger combines richness, sweetness, tang, chew and snap in every bite – the perfect blend of breakfast and lunch.
My second guest, who has dined at 5N with me in the past, went for the Sausage & Egg Sliders – simplicity on a biscuit. The fresh made breakfast sausage was paired with scrambled eggs and topped with American cheese – a classic done just right.
For me, I tackled the breakfast burrito, a flour wrap holding a mix of scrambled eggs, chorizo and Monterrey Jack, served with a spicy tomato sauce to dip into. Though the dishes all are naturally served with fries, I opted to substitute for the Tater Tots, which are closer in internal texture to a knish, but still have the breadcrumb crispness on the exterior.
We barely scratched the surface of the brunch offerings, which include Cinnamon French Toast with bananas and buttered maple syrup, a variety of pancakes, salads, omelets, fish tacos and even Lobster Roll Sliders. The menu is enormous and, like their lunch and dinner fare, everything is cooked to order, fresh and immaculate.
We’ll be back, sure to take on the challenge of some of the other dishes, or just to grab another burger. The location is fantastic, an ironic twist on a slaughterhouse, and there’s now a play room set aside during brunch for kids to enjoy a little… well… kid time while the adults enjoy a peaceful moment, a slider and a glass of refreshment.
- Brian M. Rafferty