The National Eatery & Speakeasy, located in Parktown North, Johannesburg, hosted food bloggers recently to showcase a selection of their signature dishes from their new Winter menu. Chef James Diack and his team gave us the menu below, allowing us to select our own preferred dishes. This I prefer to the little and many taste plates sometimes offered to us at such events. Being able to enjoy the full size portions allows me to experience their food exactly the way you will, when you visit The National.
Chef James Diack also owns the Coobs restaurant in Parkhurst, and both restaurants source most of their vegetables, herbs, fruit and some of their meat from the Diack’s family owned Brightside Farm in Magaliesberg. James explained that certain parts of the lamb and their vegetables and fruit from the farm, would only be used in dishes made at the Coobs restaurant. The other section of lamb etc. would then be used at The National, so nothing they farm goes to waste … how cool is that?
The National is a small 40 seater American style cuisine restaurant, with a few high tables and chairs close to the bar. The rest of the venue has comfortable seating at tables. They also have their own Texan Reverse Smoker, which they had to move from the restaurant’s Parktown North premises to the Brightside Farm, after receiving complaints from tenants living above the restaurant.
I started the lunch with lamb empanadas served with a coriander aioli and mint pesto dressed micro salad (R85)
The three fairly large empanadas looked very appetising, served on the black tile /plate, which also allowed the green colours of the micro salad and sauce to pop from the plate. The tender shredded and very tasty lamb stuffed in light empanadas pastry, was very filling for a starter. If they added another two more empanadas to the plate, it would easily become a good main course dish for lunch.
My main course was the vegetable biryani served with coriander and mint dhal and crispy poppadum (R105).
It did not look like the traditional yellow turmeric flavoured rice I am used to. The deeply filled pot was little bit under seasoned, which was easily remedied by adding a pinch of salt. Even though this dish is on their Mains section of their menu, it safe to assume that biryani would not be a person’s first dish choice when going to an American cuisine restaurant, so I have to wonder why they have this on their menu in the first place.
Dessert was a tasty apple pie (an American traditional) with ice cream (price on request)
I will definitely consider going back to The National when I don’t feel like cooking supper, as they have large servings of hearty dishes, which are also reasonably priced.
The National Eatery & Speakeasy
19 4th Avenue
Tel: 011 327 3030
Reviewed by Siraaj Cassiem