London Restaurant Reviews : The National Café

This is my second visit the The National Gallery’s National Café. I was there when it first opened, exactly two years ago. You can read all about it here.

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An invite from Love Pops Ups London to review their new Sorolla menu meant that I was back again at this spectacular and elegant space.

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But first, a bit of background. Two to three times a year, The National Gallery hosts a specialist exhibition and currently it is exhibiting the paintings of the Spanish Impressionist, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863–1923), for the first time outside of Spain in over a century. You can find more details of the exhibition here.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Oliver Peyton’s restaurants, The National Dining Rooms and The National Café, are celebrating the “Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light” exhibition with a limited-edition Spanish menu from 18th March until 7th July. The menu is packed with Iberian flavours, inspired by the iridescent canvases of the renowned Spanish painter.

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A bunch of bloggers gathered on a balmy evening. After initial introductions, our lovely hostess of the evening offered us a glass of fizz to begin with.

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From the starters, I opted for Smoked Ham and Manchego Croquettes | Pimento Aioli. It seemed to be a popular choice of the evening as we all ordered the same! This tapas-style dish was crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside with some banging flavours coming from the smoky meat and the underlying alioli. For someone who is not a big fan of fried food, this was actually quite nice and light. Overall, a lovely starter.

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The highlight of my meal was my main – Blackened Hake | Romesco Sauce | Almond and Olive dressing. I feel bad for my fellow bloggers who didn’t order this as it was rather splendid! It was a flipping good piece of fresh fish, beautifully crisped on top and served on a bed of creamy mash, with the robust and flavourful Romesco sauce elevating the whole plate. Seriously, one of the best fish dishes I have had in a restaurant.

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Throughout the meal, we also sampled some delicious Spanish whites and reds to compliment our respective meal choices.

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The meal ended on a sweet note with a classic Tarta de Santiago. I paired mine with vanilla ice cream, although you also have the option of clotted cream. It was a delicious and light dessert, full of almond and citrus flavours. A couple of my fellow bloggers ordered the Crema Catalana which they were not too keen on, so I was very pleased with my choice.

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Our service was superb and we were spoilt. Being a restaurant associated with the gallery, this place is heaving during the day when the majority of people visit the museum, so advance booking is highly recommended. However, in the evening it was a bit quiet and slightly lacking in atmosphere.

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The Set Menu is very reasonably priced at two courses for £19 and three courses for £24. It is available for lunch times (12.00-3.00pm) and as a pre-theatre dinner (5.30-7:30pm). If you are visiting the Sorolla exhibition (or indeed any other exhibition at The National Gallery), this would be a good way to round off your art and cultural experience with food inspired from the gallery shows.

Location : The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DN

www.peytonandbyrne.co.uk/the-national-cafe

Disclaimer: I was invited to review the below venue and our meal was complimentary but all opinions and photos are mine. 

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