Review: The National

I should have known.

I’m a huge fan of Five and Ten, now a foodie landmark in Athens, whose executive chef is Hugh Acheson. I’d heard a couple of years ago that the same mastermind behind Five and Ten had opened a new high-end, sustainable-farm-focused restaurant downtown: The National.

Why I haven’t been here before is a mystery to me, too.

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It took Ruth’s birthday to summon me. Who wouldn’t go ANYWHERE for this face, and how much more to a fabulous restaurant?

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PRICING:
My biggest reservation about The National was what I’d heard about its pricing, but at least at lunchtime, it’s not really any different from Last Resort, East/West, or any of the other upscale restaurants in town WHO ARE OPEN FOR LUNCH (sniff, Farm 255! Throw us a bone!). If you stick to an entree only–which does come with a side–you’re going to be looking at $10-15. Not bad for what you get.

FOOD:
This was a lovely way to start the meal: Savannah shrimp out of the ocean “less than 48 hours,” remoulade, and a spicy sauce, with local butter lettuces touched with vinegar and olive oil.
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Ruth’s coworkers, Debbie and Caroline, were there to join me in scarfing the appetizer:IMG_1857

I had a cup of the local pumpkin soup (curry crema and pecans with a touch of spice)–HOLY CRAP–and the spinach salad, with smoked trout, house-pickled beets, scallions, and creamy dijon-vinaigrette. It makes such an amazing difference when every ingredient is high-end. Black and white versus Technicolor.

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Ruth had the ground lamb pita with frites dipped in spicy pomegranate ketchup (read: ketchup that burns nicely on the way down!):

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Debbie selected the bowl of soup, salad and side of frites:

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Caroline chose the sumptuous-looking vegetable samoas with tamarind, yogurt, and sesame. She also approved of her soup:

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DRINKS:
I absolutely loved the wine and cocktail list–Vinho Verde! The National offers 3 oz pours for half the price of the full 6 oz glass, so it’s easy and not wallet- or liver-busting to try new varieties. Next time I want to try the Fresca (housemade cantaloupe agua fresca, Brugel white rum, lemon, mint and soda). Yes, thanks. Caroline remarked favorably about her Campuget Rose.

SERVICE:
Not the fastest service I’ve ever had–presumably you’re not coming here for fast food–but our server was helpful, attentive and friendly. I always love when an upscale restaurant hasn’t a whit of snobbery.

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The National on Urbanspoon

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One thought on “Review: The National

  1. Great review! Gotta love that fresh, unfrozen shrimp!

    Wasn’t too impressed presentation wise but it’s the taste that really counts. The National’s on my to-do list and I’m hoping to check it out before the end of the year.

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