You wouldn’t necessarily expect to find a decent veggie burger — or any veggie burger — at a burger joint, particularly one that boasts its patties are so full of meat drippings that they require five napkins to eat. So it’s a pleasant surprise to report that there isn’t a decent veggie burger at 5 Napkin Burger. There’s an excellent one.
Given that the vast majority of its clientele is there for the meat, 5 Napkin could have taken the easy way out and slapped a dessicated Morningstar patty onto a bun and called it a day. Instead, its chefs have created a patty that incorporates more or less the entire inventory of a health food store: According to the waiter serving the burger, its ingredients include barley, black beans, brown rice, sesame seeds, jalapeños, carrots, and beets, the latter of which turn the patty a convincing shade of meaty pink.
It’s placed upon a whole-grain bun, smothered with so-called 5N sauce (which tastes like Russian dressing) and bread and butter pickles, and garnished with a violently red slice of tomato and a leaf of lettuce large enough to double as a sun hat.
The bun itself is sturdy but pliant and riddled with crunchy grains. It’s a perfect vessel for the patty, which is thick, richly textured, and smartly seasoned, with its somewhat nutty flavor getting an occasional goosing from the jalapeños or the odd fennel seed. While the 5N sauce is assertive, and threatens to submerge the whole concoction, it doesn’t smother the flavor of the patty, or the mild sweetness of the pickles. Taken together, all of the ingredients are intensely satisfying and won’t leave vegetarians staring with guilty longing at the plates of well-fed carnivores.
For the record, the veggie burger (which costs $11.95) only required one linen napkin, but it was huge and obviously constructed to meet the demands of substantial appetites. Much like the burger itself.
5 Napkin Burger
630 Ninth Avenue
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 9, 2010
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