Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The National - Athens, Georgia

While on a recent trip to Athens, GA we had the chance to have lunch at The National. The National is a lovely, intimate restaurant. The dining room is small but doesn't feel crowded and gives off an airy feel with it's cool blue and white color scheme.

We arrived a bit early for our lunch reservation so we had a few minutes to look around. There is a small bar opposite the dining room that seemed to be well stacked with bourbons and scotches. While we didn't take advantage of the nice selection on this trip it seems like a good spot to meet friends for a pre-dinner drink. And food is served in the bar throughout the day.

We were shown to a table along a wall filled with windows. The tables on this side  of the dining room share a long banquet and seat one to three people. The banquet was comfortable and the table, while a bit on the small side, was perfect for our party of two.

The food at The National takes its inspiration from the Mediterranean. Hummus, olives and stuffed dates are featured along with flat breads and salads. The lunch menu varies a bit from the dinner menu but in broad strokes the menus are very similar. If you can only make it for lunch, as we did, you'll miss a few items but still get a great variety to chose from.

Marinated Olives

Goat Cheese with Lavender Honey
 The menu at The National is divided into Firsts and Seconds. To start, from the Firsts menu we had the marinated olives and the goat cheese with lavender honey and toast. Both were quite good. Several different types of olives in a light dressing with a few capers thrown in. The goat cheese and honey couldn't be simpler. The lavender added a note that, to be honest, I'm still unsure of. I enjoyed it but the lavender seems an acquired taste.

After that we moved on to the seconds. We had the chicken salad with yogurt dressing, the tartine and Chucho's pizzette. All of the entrees were good but the chicken salad really stood out. The yogurt dressing was creamy and added a nice zip.

The pizzette was topped with chicken, fontina cheese, caramelized onions and pickled chilies. The onions were a nice sweet contract to the chicken and chilies.

The tartine was a toasted baguette served with triple cream cheese, beefsteak tomato, melted leeks, greens and a green olive vinaigrette. I love anything toasted so this was spot on for me. Creamy, crunchy and peppery.

We ordered coffee and tea and made our dessert selections. I had the Baklava Ice Cream with some type of blueberry compote and my lunch date had the Flour-less Chocolate Torte with cherries. While the ice cream was really good, the chocolate cake with cherries was divine. (I confess I stole more than a few bites.)

We had a very nice lunch at The National. Our server was wonderful, attentive without being intrusive and never made us feel rushed. Terrific service.

If you're in Athens, GA and looking for a lunch option that's a little bit different give The National a try. It's a great place to take a break in the middle of the day and the food and service are both top notch.

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