The National Bar & Dining Rooms

When we needed a last minute brunch reservation in midtown for a party of six, The National was able to squeeze us in. I’ve read mixed reviews about Geoffrey Zakarian‘s version of a Euro-American “Grand Cafe”, but actually had a relatively nice experience.

The decor of the restaurant is upscale but playful; evidenced by the quaint, old bicycle perched by the door as you enter the restaurant. The place was fairly empty around noon on a Saturday – never a good sign – but it worked out for us because the servers were extremely attentive and diligent about refilling much-needed water glasses after what had been a long night.

I had read the Ugly Burger was a safe (and hearty) choice, and went with that, which turned out to be a good decision. The burger was cooked exactly to medium rare and crammed with an array of tasty toppings, including pickled onions and jalapenos, and the fries didn’t disappoint either. I also love that they serve Sir Kensington’s ketchup; that stuff is great. Nevertheless, the consensus around the table was that the rest of the more traditional brunch dishes – an omelette, eggs benedict, etc. – were uninspiring. No one had a bad meal, but no one was impressed either.

The National didn’t blow me away for brunch, but it seems like a reliable option in midtown, which I don’t find myself saying often. I’ll give their dinner service a try the next time I’m searching for a bite in the area.



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