I love !
Some friends invited us to join them after a movie at for a late dinner, about 8 o'clock. (There is on Mondays and Tuesdays that is a great deal. I always think I'm going to do it, but somehow those are not the nights I feel like going to the movies. I guess that's why it's a special deal.) There were seven of us and we had the big round table in the middle of the room. Being together was a lot of fun and the food was great, but I couldn't even hear the waitress telling us the specials, let alone my friends across the table. It’s really loud.
I guess my favorite thing about the National is the menu, which changes with availability of local foods and the mood of the chef, Peter Dale, who is always creating new dishes. They have fun new cocktails, too, and a great little bar in the next room, as well as very good wines.
I often start with the hummus, which is excellent, with a slightly different kind of flat yummy bread than the usual pita. Another guest had the kale salad. I am not a big fan of kale, but it was very tasty, with pecans. She raved about it. The group also had two different pizzettes, a very thin small pizza that was a big hit. In fact, I don't think anyone had anything they didn't like.
For her main dish, my vegetarian daughter had a vegetable plate with a variety of items, including scrumptious beets, corn fritters, baby okra and rattlesnake beans. She was sorry she couldn't eat it all. Two guests had the pork shoulder, "lovely" and so tender they didn't need a knife. I enjoyed my shrimp dish, but the pork was amazing!
The menu allows for different appetites: some people ordered two first courses, one couple ordered first courses but shared an entree. Several of us shared desserts. One fun summer touch: grownup popsicles--banana or mango. They were delicious. I loved the yogurt panna cotta--and felt a tad virtuous, too--served with fruit. Two of us had a brownie that came with chocolate sorbet and pomegranate sauce. Very decadent; too much to finish. A special seasonal dessert was peach empanadas--delicious but a little greasy. Our group did not order any cheese this time, but The National has amazing cheeses.
The only drawback about the National is I am often shocked when the bill comes. It is not cheap. But it’s so worth the money. Our dinner including wine and tip was $37 per person. In addition to the acoustic problems, it was a little dark for me.
The National summary: Very good atmosphere, very good service, excellent food
The style of food is difficult to describe: nouvelle cuisine with a hint of Spanish influence? Small plates as well as traditional entrees, full bar, desserts; good for small and large groups.
Patty's picks: the menu varies, but if possible, get the kale salad, the pork shoulder, and the yogurt panna cotta (or a popsicle).
Some items on the menu are local.