The National Dining Room, New York
THE NATIONAL DINING ROOM: NEW YORK
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT:
- The staff are fantastic and wonderfully accommodating
- To enjoy the plush decor and surroundings
- If you have a sweet tooth, the delicious dessert menu is definitely for you
- The cocktails are refreshingly good
On a warm dusky evening, walking into the National Dining Room after a walk through New York, felt like a natural step. The streets were busy and hectic but as we sat down at our semi-circular open booth, with a view of a busy yet friendly-looking bar, we relaxed instantly.
The atmosphere felt perfect and strong cocktails and generous rich food filled the air. With its plush leather, brass detailing and soft lighting, The National is a great venue to talk, eat and relax.
Our informed waitress started our evening with cocktails and my husband, who was joining me for dinner, asked for his favourite drink; an Old Fashioned. And what better place to order this historic cocktail than New York! I chose a NTL.MULE 16, which consisted of Stoli Vodka, Ginger Liqueur, Luxardo Maraschino, Ginger Beer and Fresh Ginger. My cocktail arrived in a tin cup filled with ice and it was refreshing and moreish.
The dinner menu at the National is simple and strong featuring a great collection of classics with some inventive and inspired dishes thrown into the mix. The foundation of the menu is French and this influence runs through the food combinations.
My dinner started with Fried Cauliflower; Cauliflower coated in Crispy Garlic and Goats Cheese, finished with Lemon and Jalapeno. It was delicious and the Cauliflower texture had real bite. For me it was definitely a standout dish during our dinner. My husband Liam enjoyed Steak Tartare to start his meal, which had a delicate balance of Cherry Pepper and Kecap Manis combined with Hand-cut Sirloin, Pickled Hon Shimeji and Mustard and was finished with a simple yet perfect Quails Egg.
Portion sizes in the states can be over the top in many restaurants but The National confidently plated its food without overbearing us. My appetizer left me wanting more and looking forward to my next dish. During the fabulous starters, Liam and I took in the clientele dining around us; a robust mixture of drinkers after work, alongside old friends catching up over red wine with Charcuterie. Hearty, loud and happy.
Moving onto our Entrée, Liam ordered Herb Roasted Chicken. The one thing I have learnt on my travels to America is that Americans know how to cook great chicken. Sweet, moist and fresh, the chicken was accompanied by a Bulgur Salad.
A strong hit of parsley brought the Labneh, Parsnip and Blistered Grapes to life and presented Liam with a rich balance of fresh and fragrant flavours.
When it came to my main course, I enjoyed a plate piled high with roasted vegetables and pulses. This dish is not featured on the menu but I wish it were! I love pulses and sweetly roasted veg and this dish had a helping of Cranberry, a classic U.S flavour. It reminded me of a Veggie Roast Christmas Dinner and I loved it. I also ordered a side of Crispy Brussels Sprouts, glazed in Cider and Mustard.
I should explain why I was given my own personalized meal.
Given the opportunity to review the National, I jumped at the chance. The Chef/Owner Geoffrey Zakarian is a renowned chef with successful TV shows and a cookbook to boot. His restaurants are stylish and modern in a relaxed comfortable way and I really liked the restaurant location and feel of the website. I had scanned the menu before arriving and felt as a Vegetarian I had options to choose from but I later learnt from our very helpful waitress that almost all of the dishes on the menu were influenced by meat/fish in different ways. This wasn’t a problem as every dish is prepared freshly in the kitchen and the chef on hand was happy to create a beautiful dish for me to eat. I was thrilled the chef was happy to put together a generous hearty meal just for me and The National is a place for comfortable rich flavours and honest fresh ingredients.
My husband Liam and I finished our dinner with Pumpkin Cheesecake and Housemade Sorbet & Gelato. I adore Pumpkin and try to order it whenever I am in the States as Americans use the ingredient so fully and in many different ways. The Cheesecake was served with Toasted Meringue and Cinnamon. It was absolutely delicious and I could have easily finished off two portions! My husband had been waiting for his final course with patience as he LOVES Gelato and Sorbet. He was not disappointed and was offered many incredible flavours to choose from. I barely had time to take a picture before he had finished his bowl so I think it was a success!
During our meal we enjoyed a fragrant fresh white wine; a Sauvignon Blanc from Nappa Vally. It worked perfectly with our chicken and vegetable dishes and California really does make stunning wine.
The National Dining Room is a great place to pick up dinner after work with friends. The French vibe, which runs through both the food and interior, means you can stand at the bar and enjoy a snack whilst others sit down to a full meal. Everybody is welcome and can enjoy the menu in their own way. Throughout our meal the service we received was helpful and friendly and we enjoyed a lovely evening.
Dotty Dishes was a guest of The National.
The National, 557 Lexington Ave (at 50th Street), New York, NY 10022