The National, New York, NY

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | August 25th, 2011 | Restaurant Reviews

My husband travels more for business travel than I do.  While I understand that the days are long and lonely, some of the benefits, such as dining at great restaurants, make me a little envious.  For most of the last year, when he would travel to Manhattan, he would be situated somewhere in Midtown and managed to start his days with breakfast at The National.  When our business travel schedules were able to align this past June, I was eager to try breakfast here, as he had raved about short rib hash and other amazing options.

So, on a warm Saturday morning, we walked to The National for a hearty breakfast.  Arriving about 9:30, approximately half of the tables were filled, and we were seated promptly.  As we began to review our menus, we received water and were able to place an order for a pot of coffee.  The menu, while not large and overwhelming, had a delightful assortment of unique breakfast items, including a Chorizo Omelet and Berkshire Pork Belly Benedict.

The waiter returned shortly with our coffee and took our orders.  While we waited for our breakfasts to arrive, we enjoyed the coffee, which was wonderfully strong.  There was nothing weak about this coffee; in fact, it reminded me of some of the fabulous coffee we had while in New Orleans.

Our food arrived in an appropriate amount of time, and I did note that both plates had fabulous presentation.  The National certainly isn’t just a breakfast stop, it offers fine dining.  However, presentation isn’t everything.  My breakfast, Pepper Omelet, was a mix.  The omelet was made with fluffy eggs and had a nice filling of roasted peppers, spinach, and goat cheese.  The grilled bread was fairly cold, so when butter was added it didn’t melt, though its texture was nice and crunchy.  The roasted potatoes were given to my husband who enjoys them far more than I do.  He thought they were average.

My husband ordered Beef Hash.  A combination of braised beef, gruyere, cherry peppers, and kale, it was lackluster.  In his previous visits the hash had been made with short rib, and this new recipe just wasn’t as tasty or tender.  It was served with a sunny egg on top, which was cooked perfectly.  Served without grilled bread or a similar side, it was not as filling as could have been.  Thus, my roasted potatoes were appreciated even more.

The National was a pleasant experience.  The decor and atmosphere are enjoyable, making you feel like you’ve entered a different period of time.  However, the food which had been raved about previously wasn’t quite that good, especially for my husband who was used to a better dining experience there.  Maybe it was an off morning in the kitchen or maybe we chose the wrong breakfast items.  Either way, I won’t discount visiting here again, but I also won’t be keeping it high on my need-to-return list.

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