557 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10022
Price - $$$
Cuisine – 5 Stars, Modern American
Cleanliness – 4 Stars
Service – 3 Stars
Dress – Business casual
Atmosphere – Classy but relaxed
Geoffrey Zakarian’s mid-town east venue, modestly labeled as his “grand café”, is more sophisticated than the title suggests. The National is a capacious and elegantly decorated dining establishment with a classic aura despite subtle, contemporary touches in the wall décor, tiling and of course, their dishes.
Recommended plates from small bites to “La Piece de Resistance” are as follows:
Strong, dark and delicious, the Chimay Blue Belgian brew is as instantly gratifying and thirst-quenching as a sight of the tall, dark and handsome. Any venue offering the Chimay variations (whether Blue, Red, Triple or Doree) hints that they know what they’re doing and they know what you like . . .
Jumpstart your appetite and your metabolism with The National’s Blue Cheese Wedge salad. Let this hunk of lettuce stuffed with blue cheese, candied bacon, scallions, sun dried tomatoes and red onion be your gateway dish to the rest of the menu.
One of the succulent piece de resistance is Zakarian’s and Executive Chef, Paul Corsentino’s hefty portion of “the other white meat”, a more than sufficient entrée dish. The pork chop is a juicy, moist, tender chop of meat cooked at the perfect temperature. Paired with a side of Broccolini greens, it needs nothing more than the slice of a candied garlic decoration to pack a flavorful bite. One can’t possibly go wrong with a hearty bowl of cheesy, creamy grits. From the family of oats, groats, porridge and polenta, this all American, Southern staple might be a successful accompaniment with just about any dish during any meal of the day.
In the words of Fernando Pessoa, “There is no metaphysics on earth like chocolate.” So it seems, chocolate must always be had if we are to continue improving our overall nature of being. The National’s Whiskey Chocolate Mousse certainly assists with that philosophy. Accompanied by Blood Orange Sorbet, Zakarian and Corsentino’s version of Devil’s Food Cake is fatally delicious.
Visit The National for an upscale happy hour, a relaxed weekend brunch, or a lively group dinner date. Make sure you have time to spare – though the service staff is amiable, you should expect to leave plenty of room for conversation. The wait between each course can be near painful but, the caliber of cuisine is a sweet sensation upon arrival.