Last night, I was invited to the “soft opening” of 5 Napkin Burger in Boston’s Back Bay. The restaurant officially opens to the public next week on March 23rd, so 5 Napkins wanted to celebrate by inviting their family, friends, and media to enjoy dinner on them, but also use the night as an opportunity for their staff to practice and learn before the big day.
So, last week, I received an invitation inviting me and up to three guests to try out the restaurant. It sounded like a blast to me, so I invited Mal and our friends, Josh and Danielle, to join me.
The atmosphere of the restaurant felt fun and lively, but also a little tense at times. You could tell the staff had the opening night jitters.
The vibe of 5 Napkins was upscale burger joint with a retro twist.
Mal said it reminded him of an Italian restaurant, but I assume he only said that because of the checkered tablecloths.
With regard to the atmosphere, I need to note the music because it was just really good and added to our overall experience. We heard lots of our favorite artists and the music was never too loud that you couldn’t hear the other people at your table, but it was just loud enough that you could enjoy it. I feel like restaurants always struggle with this balance, so it was nice that 5 Napkins got it right!
Our meal started with a round of cocktails. The beer menu looked especially fantastic with a variety of microbrews from breweries such as Lagunitas , Victory, Brooklyn Brewery, and Allagash (just to name a few), but I ended up ordering a cocktail.
I went with the Citrus Cooler, which was made with Veev, Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka, Smashed Ruby Red Grapefruit and Orange Juice. It was very, very delicious– so light, so fresh, so refreshing, so wonderful. I’d definitely recommend this drink. I’d give it an A+.
Our server encouraged each of us to order an appetizer, entrÃ©e, and dessert, so we could try a bunch of different dishes from the menu. We ordered a bunch of appetizers to enjoy between the four of us. We chose:
- Stack of Cornmeal Crusted Onion Rings with blue cheese dressing & 5N sauce
- Chicken, Noodle & Matzo Ball Soup
- Deep Fried Pickles & Pastrami with sauerkraut & mustard oil
- Pork Taquitos with queso fresco, sour cream & salsa
The Matzo Ball Soup, Deep Fried Pickles, and Pork Taquitos were pretty average. They tasted fine, but there wasn’t really anything special about them.
The Cornmeal Crusted Onion Rings, however, were out of this world!! The cornmeal (instead of breadcrumbs) made all of the difference! They were nice and crunchy, but not super greasy and fried like onion rings usually are. We loved them!!
I would totally visit 5 Napkins again to order these onion rings. Next time, I’m going to order them at the bar, get a beer, and call it a night!
For my entrÃ©e, I ordered the Original 5 Napkin Burger, which was 10 oz. fresh ground chuck, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and rosemary aioli on a soft white roll.
Overall, I liked this burger, but I think it could have been better. I asked for it to be cooked medium, but it came out pretty rare. There was also a ton of rosemary aioli on it, which seemed to overwhelm the other flavors on the burger. (You can see the massive glob of it on the right side of the burger.) Of course, these are easy fixes for the kitchen.
On the side, I enjoyed some delicious sweet potato fries. These babies were good, but you had to pay extra for them. 5 Napkins was treating me to dinner, so I happily ordered them, but I’m not sure I’d pay $11 for a burger and then another $3.75 for fries, ya know? Well, maybe I would. They were pretty awesome!
My second drink of the evening was a Pomegranate-Berry Martini, which was just so-so. It was much too sweet for my liking, but I drank it anyway.
5 Napkins had a nice dessert menu, which included classic treats like Old Fashioned Apple Pie, New York Style Cheese Cake, 7 Layer Blackout Cake, Milk Shakes, and Floats. I went with the Espresso Brownie Sundae, which ended up being an excellent pick. It was made with vanilla ice cream, espresso caramel, whipped cream, and salted peanuts. Mmm! Everyone at our table enjoyed a few bites and really loved it. It had lots of espresso flavor!
All in all, a great night at a great restaurant. I’d definitely visit 5 Napkins again for beer and onion rings. I’m sure their burgers are pretty fantastic, so I’d give them another try. I think I just got a bum burger last night.