Monday, 1 May 2017

The National Café, Trafalgar Square

Tucked away off Trafalgar Square and only minutes from Embankment is the fairly recently opened National Cafe. It's a branch of Peyton & Byrne restaurants but being set in this gorgeous building makes for a much more enchanting experience.

They serve food all day, but of course, being the brunch addicts that myself and my good friend I-mae are, it was a given that we had to head down for breakfast. They served a wide variety of items on the menu and it did take us a while to choose..!

I settled for the poached egg, with crushed avo, baby spinach, chilli & tomato salsa and toasted sunflower seeds on a spelt and quinoa pancake. I ordered a side of mushrooms and ofc I had to get extra eggs 'cause one egg just ain't enough for this growing gal - that's my excuse anyway..

Imae went for the buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup and then we shared the beautiful pink grapefruit, blood orange and pomegranate salad.

Atmosphere: 4/5
It was fairly quiet throughout the whole time we were in the cafe. However, it was quite early on a Saturday morning so it could be somewhat expected, especially as it's newly opened. A quiet restaurant usually makes for an awkwardly silent meal and inevitable eavesdropping on the next tables conversation.. However, the tables were really well spaced out and the amazingly tall ceilings combined with the buzziness of the gallery next door, gave us a perfectly relaxing environment to enjoy breakfast and chat for hours.

The neutral colour scheme was so gorgeous and the huge canvas paintings take inspiration from the neighbouring National Gallery to offer the most breathtaking backdrops.

The one area where the atmosphere fell down for me was the slight damp smell, which was initially noticeable as I walked in. It felt like I was walking into a greenhouse.. Let's just say I was kind of glad to get some fresh air when we left.

Food: 3/5
As a big green tea and matcha fan - I can't fault their loose leaf. It really was delicious.

As for the food, what sounded like the most amazing dish actually left me slightly underwhelmed.

One of my yolks was completely cooked through - not ideal when the highlight of your brunch is usually reliant on some good #yolkporn. The spelt and quinoa pancake was amazingly light and fluffy. However, the quinoa flour did give it quite an acquired taste, which can be fairly love or hate.

The salsa was not actually a salsa - more just some diced tomatoes. The sunflower seeds were sadly not toasted and the oil they used could have been of a much higher quality, which may have saved the dish somewhat.

However, the mushrooms were DIVINE! Slightly crispy, golden brown and doused in butter and olive oil - perfection. Hand me a bowl of mushrooms so buttery I look like I've just put lip balm on and I'm one happy gal!

The grapefruit, blood orange and pomegranate salad was so deliciously refreshing. The citrus notes provided the perfect finish to our much more indulgent first courses.

Looks like the green tea, buttered mushrooms and citrus salad saved the day.

Service: 5/5
This is one area where I really can't fault them. Amazingly helpful, wonderfully attentive (but not overly annoying) and fantastic attitude. Even when there was an element of slight hesitation with one of our meals, the manager was over in a flash in attempt to sort it out, which I thought was brilliant.

Good service is highly important to the enjoyment of my meal. Hats off to the National Cafe, we are ending on a high as I am pleased to say that they excelled on this front. 

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