Midtown isn’t an easy place to find a good restaurant. If you’re not wearing a suit or carrying a corporate card, chances are you feel like an alien when you try and take a step up from Cafe Metro. Lately, though, an influx of cool has started to sneak its way into this wasteland. Momofuku’s Má Pêche is always solid, we have an Ippudo, and Geoffrey Zakarian has reinvented himself with a new Midtown mini-empire including an impressive Times Square showing in The Lambs Club and now The National as well.
The National is essentially Midtown’s Five Points. It’s a seasonal restaurant and brasserie with solid eats at prices that aren’t cheap but aren’t abusive. It’s money for lunch, dinner, and even weekday breakfast, something that isn’t easy to locate in the mid-50s. The service is excellent - we always feel well taken care of on our visits. Plus, the food is all solid, particularly the pork chop. God damn is it good.
It’s certainly true that if The National was downtown, it would hardly stand out amongst a sea of decent bistro/cafe style joints. But up here, this place is pretty special. Get it in your rotation.
An appetizer order of three soft, tasty ribs in a sweet pomegranate BBQ sauce. For $10, this is definitely a solid starter option.
Duck Frisee Salad
Shredded duck, a warm poached egg, bacon lardons, cranberries, and pecans over a big bed of mixed greens. A hearty salad that can be ordered as a starter to share or a main. Do it.
Stuffed Tempura Squash Blossoms
If this special, a fried tempura of squash with bufala mozzarella, basil, and radicchio, is on the menu, order it. So good.
This is the dish we totally freaked out over. The National’s pork chop is amazing. Served with broccolini and cheese grits in a “candied garlic sauce,” this chop is really juicy and really flavorful.
Nothing too crazy here. The chicken comes well cooked and presented with heirloom lemon potato, chanterelle mushrooms, and chicken jus. There are better things on this menu.
An excellent burger, but be forewarned that there’s a lot going on here. Pickles, “house sauce,” bibb lettuce, tomatoes, spicy jalapeños, and bacon make this a delightful mess to eat. But there’s so much going on, sometimes it’s hard to taste the meat. The basket of fries that comes with the burger are good, too.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts
A solid order of sprouts. These crunchy nuggets of goodness were served with pancetta and mustard, and are a solid order as a side.