I promise this isn't how I eat all the time. It just so happens my mum is in London this weekend and that's cause for celebration (she's only been here a couple of times, big city living isn't really her style). As a result we do the nice things, things that are the nicer than touristy, things that ensures she knows that her daughter is fine, and safe, and having a fabulous time in London.
So off we head to the National Gallery dining rooms. Overlooking the iconic Trafalgar Square, the restaurant is located in the Sainsburys wing of the gallery, only a short walk to all sorts of impressively large and famous (and expensive) paintings. The view through the girder criss-crossed windows is spectacular, if you are lucky enough to get a window seat, and the low warming lighting, mahogany furniture and what my mum tells me is famous art (not my forte) all create a decadent atmosphere - as we took our seats we knew we were in for a treat.
There are two menus to chose from: an a la carte menu and a staple every day menu. Both have two courses for a reasonable twenty something pounds. It's an impressive selection of British meat, fish and seasonal vegetarian dishes; we all spend 10 minutes weighing up the options; rabbit terrine or potted mackerel? Pork with chestnut crust or mutton cooked three ways? I can't decide so I ask the waiter to recommend..in a thick accent he informs me that the hock and the 'troot' (aka trout) are both very good so that's what I go for; British hamhock with a celeriac salad and a parcel of trout with chard.
We snack on some delicious bread and chat, we're in a late sitting and the restaurant is slowly quieting down. When it arrives just 15 minutes later the hock is beautifully complex and is paired with crunchy and deliciously bitter grated raw celeriac. The dressing is sweet basil, capers, gherkins, finely sliced onions and olives.
We all devour our starters and promptly afterwards the trout arrives. My first mouthful is soft and sweet but it is unfortunately paired with fennel..one of my pet hates, I feel like I'm eating sambuca..so I swap with my mother for her grilled seabass with tenderstem brocolli and roasted green tomato chutney. I'm a bit smug about my swap as it is delightful. There is no messing around, the flakey moist fish is cut through by the tangy chargrilled tomatoes and the brocolli is simple, fresh and crunchy.
We finish off with a fight over the chocolate ice cream in a mixed ices sundae, fresh mint tea and a peruse of the impressionist art locked away only meters from us.
I will come here again..on a special occasion..
Very nice flat white and a great view over Trafalgar Square. We didn't eat but the food that went past our table looked lovely. Much quieter than many of the busy cafes and restaurants in this part of town. Check it out.
This place had been on my list of places to try. What a big fat flop. Ok, it wasn't the worst thing in the world. But when I order afternoon tea I want to see TIERS!!! Yes, there was 5 of us, but serving afternoon tea on plates laid between the five of us should be a crime.
The sandwiches were meh (doesn't even deserve a real word to describe it, just a sound), the scones were cold and a tad stale and as for the pastries/cakes/etc were forgettable and looked like doo doo.
I assumed from the names on the menu they were serving Jing tea, even though it is a Peyton and Byrne restaurant. We were served with Twinning's. Now I like Twinning's, but again I thought this was Peyton and Byrne. Don't call it Earl Grey Supreme (which is what Jing call their Earl Grey) when it's Twinning's.
In all honesty I won't spend my money at the National Dining Rooms ever again.
After a confusing dash through the National Gallery, we finally found our way to the National Dining Rooms.
It was a stately place and since there were other people dressed casually, we felt at ease and were seated near the windows.
Totally knocking a star off for the poor service. It took ages for a server to come take our order and they were obviously not watching out for our table as they were just standing by the bar gossiping.
But we managed to order two tea sets and 2 additional pots of tea. We swapped teas and they were all at the right temperature to drink immediately. No need to blow indelicately to cool it down.
The tea set came with a pot of tea, a scone, finger sandwiches, and cakes. I absolutely adored the scone. So delicious with the clotted cream and scrumptious jam. As my friend says, it was really quite lovely.
If you come here, definitely come for the experience. The price is in the middle of the range but maybe next time, we'll try the more expensive places.
This is a great find. I'm not usually a fan of gallery cafes. After all, I've been to the one in The Tate Modern. None of them are particularly inspiring. But this all changed in the National Dining Rooms.
It's so posh in here, but not to the point where you don't want to be in here. The food is pretty expensive so if you want lunch it might set you back a bit, bit it all looks great.
I came here for tea. Which considering the decor and the service was as cheap as you'd find anywhere else. They also have cakes and yummy stuff to choose from as well.
This place is impressive. If you want to take someone to a swanky place and you don't want to make your bank manager cry then this is the place to do it. You'll look all arty and cool, and tea and cake will cost you less than a tenner. Brilliant.
This used to be a favourite venue of mine, when I wanted to escape from the Victoria area at lunchtime. You can browse a gallery while you are waiting, or after lunch to walk it off a little. The restaurant itself is a really lovely space with impressively high ceilings and windows, and views over Trafalgar Square (if you're sitting in the right bit).
The food is modern British, courtesy of Oliver Peyton (now frequently on TV, it seems) and very nicely done indeed, with lots of fresh, organic ingredients, and classic British puddings.
But it makes for a pricey lunch: at £25 for two courses and £30 for three, with vegetables £3.50 extra and water, wine and coffee on top, and then 12.5% service charge, you're looking at £40 a head without really trying. For me, it's now reserved for really special lunches (ideally, when someone else's hospitality account is paying).
The main downside is that it is so popular at lunchtimes, and it can be difficult to get a table. Even then, I've found service a bit hit and miss - it can really slow up when they get busy, and although the staff are prefectly nice, getting their attention between courses, and afterwards, can be an art. (A pet hate of mine is waiting ages for the bill when I've finished my coffee, and that has happened here). The remedy is simply to employ more staff over lunchtime, from that 12.5% service charge
A sunny day in London town. And where better to watch it unfold than at the National Dining Rooms overlooking Trafalgar Square?
As well as the general people-watching opprtunities, the National Dining Rooms are going to be a fine vantage point when they start sticking people on that empty plinth. It's already got a lot going for it then. The fact that the food is vibrant and fresh and good value is almost a bit of a bonus. A salad of nasturtiums, samphire, crab and peas might sound up-the-nether-regions Heston-esque but it's like summer on a plate. It's pretty enough to wear to Ascot as a hat. Or, if you're Jodie Marsh, as a dress.
It's also nice to see someone expanding that local and seasonal philosophy into a celebration of British grub in general, thanks to a monthly changing County menu. Our Cornish-themed lunch - excellent veal liver, crab, etc - gives way to Gloucestershire Old Spot and other goodies in July. As long as the elderflower posset stays on the menu a while longer I'll be happy.
An odd experience - the waiters had no idea of what table they were going to or what was on the plates!!! They came with our order (after offering us someone else's food first) and didn't know what was on the plates? I ended up with potted mackerel when I had ordered rabbit terrine.... the waiter just stood there clueless!
Anyway the food was reasonable - but I had better in a pub carvery the previous weekend. The roast potatoes were not right and the crumble had a horrible texture that hurt your mouth.
And it was was too pricey.
I wouldn't bother if I were you....
I really liked visiting the National Dining Rooms, and since I first discovered it have been back several times. Considering its location, right on Trafalgar Square, it is amazingly quiet and well priced. Situated on the second floor of the National Gallery, you can normally, if you are persistent ;-) get a table which looks out over the Square - it is so nice, sitting inside in the peace and quiet watching all the hustle and bustle outside. The afternoon tea is definitely worth trying, for £14.50 it is a real bargain (in comparison with other London afternoon teas). Thoroughly recommended.
I booked afternoon tea here for a birthday treat for my friend and two others. The tea itself was gorgeous. For £15 you get four finger sandwiches, a selection of cakes and your choice of tea from a wide selection. There were so many cakes we couldn't eat them all and had to take them away with us in a box! The dining rooms themselves are cosy and relaxed though I have to say the service, while friendly was a touch on the slow side. Will definitely be going again though! An excellent value afternoon tea in a cool place.
I love the National Gallery so much, but I have to say, the National Dining Rooms fell a bit short of my expectations. Because the Gallery is so amazing, I was expecting the Dining Rooms to uphold these same standards, but honestly I have had better teas other places. My friend and I went here and ordered their standard tea: a pot of English breakfast, a scone, finger sandwiches, and cakes. The tea was fine, but served a little too cool for my taste. I was really disappointed with the quality of the finger sandwiches, as I could tell that they had been sitting out all day and were gummy and just, blah. I did love the scone though, fresh, light, and buttery with scrumptiously sweet jam. The service here was subpar as well. We never had a single identified server and no one was overly nice and helpful. Additionally, the whole thing was a little expensive for the quality offered. I would suggest going to the Gallery, but skipping the Dining Rooms and visit the Café downstairs instead.
My daughter and I had just spent the most wonderful afternoon welcoming our Team GB along the Mall and thought it would be a lovely idea to have something to eat at the National Dining Rooms.
Upon arrival we perused the menus and decided to wait for our turn to be shown to our table.
It was not a very busy time. A harassed waitress came and lead us to a table that was bare of cutlery and condiments, as an afterthought, she then went to get a couple of menus for us. We waited to see whether the table would be set at any time soon, alas we were to be disappointed.
My daughter commented that us being of colour may have informed the waitress's attitude towards us. I like to think maybe not. However, I am sure that training to do that job would involve customer care and that any customer would be entitled to the best service at whatever time of day.
It is the quality of customer care that ensures the success or not of any venture, because after all, when we choose to spend our money with you the patron, what we are implying is that we wish the very best of success for you.
Consequently as the service, even before we ordered, was sub standard we decided to take our hard earned cash elsewhere.
This user has arrived from Qype, a European company acquired by Yelp in 2012. We have integrated the two sites to bring you one great local experience.