A burger so juicy that you will need five napkins to wipe up all the juice?
That's the claim behind 5 Napkin Burger, a fancy hamburger-focused bistro that spun off of a really, really popular burger on the menu at Nice Matin, an Upper West Side restaurant in New York.
The restaurant has since been expanding, with the first Boston location opening in Back Bay right inside the Prudential this past year.
Recently, they began a Beer and Bourbon Dinner Series, where the restaurant partners with various different beer or bourbon providers and offers a multi-course dinner paired with the featured drink company's products. For $45, you get a 2-course dinner plus dessert, passed hors d'oeurves, and a chance to try 4-5 different types of beer.
Bryan and I happily accepted an invitation to attend the first dinner of the series this time around, feature Stone Brewing Company.
The evening begins with passed h'ors d'oeuvres and a sample of Stone Levitation Ale. The beer was light and refreshing, not too malty or hoppy, with a hint of sweetness.
My favorite appetizer of the evening was the cheddar tot. It's a perfectly fried little bite filled with mashed potatoes and cheese.
The guacamole was good as well, chunky and chock full of avocados. The chicken skewers, on the other hand, were dry, overcooked, and not very pleasant to eat at all. I couldn't finish mine. Similarly, the tuna tatami wontons, topped with a bit of wasabi mayo and tobiko, were underwhelming.
I did run into Michelle from The Economical Eater, who was also at the event!
After about 30-40 minutes of hanging out in the hors d'oeurves room, they introduced Stone Brewing Company and ushered us into the main dining room. We all sat at a long table, making friends with those around us.
First Course: Peel & Eat shrimp & Beer Boil
Whole shell-on "beer boiled" shrimp were served with drawn butter with a side of parsley. I'm not sure if I like beer-boiled shrimp. The texture of the shrimp was oddly mushy and not very flavorful. Bryan, who hates getting his hands dirty, suffered silently as he picked at the shrimp shells to get at the mushy meat. We were quite disappointed with the shrimp and neither of us finished that course.
The Stone IPA paired with the dish, on the other hand, was quite good - hoppy with malty notes.
Then the main courses came, along with normal and sweet potato fries. I absolutely loved the sweet potato fries. They were crispy and perfectly seasoned on the outside while sweet and moist on the inside. I usually love normal fries more, but in this case I found myself continually going back for the sweet potato fries (though the normal fries were good too!).
Bryan ordered the Mushroom bleu "black & blue", which means the burger is charred on the outside but then basically rare on the inside. The Mushroom Bleu contains seven ounces of fresh ground beef, blue cheese, and is topped with sautéed mushrooms and shallots.
They did an excellent job executing the burger. It was cooked perfectly, with a good char on the outside and a nice rare center. The blue cheese flavor was prominent, though not evenly distributed. In general, the burger definitely was made with high quality ingredients.
Despite all that, Bryan still though the burger did not quite reach an optimal balance of texture and flavor. The bread to meat ratio was not ideal: he wished for less bread and more mushrooms and sauce. He also would have preferred some sort of crisp or crunch (maybe from lettuce, or something fried?).
But perhaps we're being picky, comparing this burger against some of the best burgers in the city. Overall, it's still a perfectly enjoyable burger and still much better than many burgers throughout the city.
The beer that came with this course was delicious, and probably my favorite of the bunch. We had the Arrogant Bastard Beer, an aggressive IPA that was deep, hoppy, and flavorful, almost like caramel. It definitely was strong enough to pair with the flavorful entrees we were enjoying.
I ordered the Veggie Burger, which was served with 5 Napkin's own sauce ("5N Sauce"), bread & butter pickles, lettuce, and tomato on a multigrain roll.
I was really really impressed with the veggie burger and I really think it's one of my favorite veggie burgers I've had! Unlike many veggie burgers, which rely on rice or beans, this one had beets as one of the main ingredients. It was a gorgeous bright red tone (ha ha, it looked like Bryan's rare meat burger!), and was filled with lentils, carrots, beets, wheat berries, and sunflower seeds (among many other ingredients, I'm sure).
I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. If I came back, I would seriously consider ordering it again.
For dessert, we had "Smore's Pie", a cylindrical dessert made with chocolate ganache and marshmallow on top of a graham cracker crust and covered with a chocolate glaze. It was OK but nothing particularly exciting. This was paired with Stone Smoke Porter, a deep, chocolatey and creamy beer that actually worked quite well with dessert!
Overall, this entire meal was fun, informative, and really a pretty good value. For only $45 (inclusive of tax, tip, everything), you get to try 4 different beers, a bunch of hors d'oeuvres, and a three course meal. They are pretty generous with the pours, and they won't hesitate to refill if you finish your beer early. [Heh, I have such low tolerance you can see how much of each beer I could finish before moving onto the next one, thus explaining how I was able to get this shot!]
It was a great chance to try the burgers at 5 Napkin, and we discovered a new craft brewery that makes very good beers. Stone Brewing Company beers can be found in several places around Boston, such as Lord Hobo in Cambridge and Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont.
There's still one more going on tomorrow night, featuring Long Trail Brewing Company. You can get tickets here.
I did not pay for this meal
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