The National, Geoffrey Zakarian's "Grand Cafe", or what I would call an American Brasserie, is a great restaurant. I stopped in two weeks ago and was extremely impressed with the perfectly executed fare by Executive Chef Paul Corsentino.
Crispy pork ($12) with onion soubise, pickled japapeño, apple, and grape is excellent.
Beef tongue ($14), with brussels sprout slaw, bone marrow, and pickled turnips is a revelation. This dish is unbelievable. I don't eat beef tongue often, but if you are going to eat it though, order this dish. The tongue is "like butter", and the addition of bone marrow, takes the dish to another level. A level of pure amazingness.
The "Ugly" Burger ($17), served with pickled jalapeño, NTLSauce, house pickles, lettuce, and your choice of cheese (I went with cheddar), is a fine burger. The pickles gave the burger some nice crunch, and it was definitely satisfying. Also, the fries that come with the burger need to be talked about. They are absolutely fabulous. I so love when chefs take their fries seriously, and these are some serious fries. Perfection.
Rabbit trofie pasta ($25), with artichoke, parmesan, and tomato is delicious. I loved the use of artichoke in this dish, they were perfectly cooked, and a great complement to the rabbit meat. Fabulosity.
You MUST save room for pastry chef Marisa Croce's desserts. Her Mocha Praline Sundae ($10), was one of the best desserts I've had all year. Espresso gelato, hazelnut brittle, and fudge sauce, made me make sounds in front of my dining companion (which was my father) that I should not have been making in public (or in front of my father). This dessert was pure awesomeness. You need to try it for yourself!
Dining at The National is extremely pleasant, and the food is great. If you are seeking a good meal, look no further. The National Bar and Dining Rooms is the perfect place.
The National Bar & Dining Rooms
557 Lexington Avenue (and 50th)
New York, NY 10022