Food & Drink Magazine

Best Gazpacho Ever...

By Yonni @vegandthecity
The National is a relative new-comer on the Manhattan dining scene, produced by internationally acclaimed Food Network chef and Chopped judge Geoffrey Zakarian (also known for 21 Club, TOWN, Country and The Lambs Club, to name a few.)
Yesterday I went to check out this nearly year-old space on the corner of Lexington Avenue and E 50th Street  in The Benjamin hotel (just across from Godiva from those of you who are interested...) I wasn't going to dine, but to learn about the event space regarding a charity event for the Breast Cancer Alliance (I am the Executive Director.)
Walking down the street, you easily spot your destination with the black awnings topping each window pane.  Step in through the revolving door onto the cool black and white tile floors, into a room adorned with white marble tables, retro lavalier lighting and a cool bar ~ almost a gentleman's club in brighter light.  Even the private dining rooms share this flair, albeit different in design.  I especially liked the discreet seating offset near the somewhat open kitchen and the sweeping staircases connecting the first floors to the second ~ one inside the restaurant, and one leading from the hotel.
My meeting was far more fun (and much longer) than I'd anticipated, and it gave me an opportunity to be a customer, or rather consumer, instead of just a voyeur.  Seated in a comfortable, large booth, I had a glass of pinot gris and some still and sparkling water, enough to make me happy at 4 in the afternoon, but the gazpacho was sounded too enticing for me to ignore.  Let me tell you, this was hands down the BEST gazpacho I ever had.
First of all, I loved the presentation, perfectly chilled in individual stainless steel pots on a white plate, half full with the soup and a generous dollup of fresh avocado puree (it comes with croutons but I was trying to be good.)  It was so decadent a texture and flavor that I was sure there was cream, but I was told it was an emulsion of the tomatoes with bread crumbs that gave it that consistency.  I could eat it daily (and if I had the recipe, I just might!)
The full menu is not catered to vegans with it's all American bistro-type fare, but I am sure accommodations could be made and from what I sampled, it's worth going to find out.  The entrees are on the pricier side so unless you have kids with a well-rounded palate (like I do), I'd leave them at home.
Let me know what you think when you go!

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