Sadly, restaurant desserts in America are a hit-or-miss affair. The worst ones have pictures in the menus that promise much and deliver calories devoid of taste. It’s all different at The National in Midtown New York. We ended up there by accident. The restaurant where we had dinner closed the kitchen before we could get dessert because they were catering a private party. Grrr.
We decided to walk back to a restaurant we’d seen earlier in the day, and on our way there we passed by The National. The warm light from the window appealed to us so we checked out the menu. That looked even better. Sometimes restaurants aren’t happy about seating groups who don’t want a full meal or who don’t have a reservation, but we were greeted warmly and shown to a pleasant table lit by an elegant long taper in the beautiful French bistro-inspired atmosphere. The photo shows the view of the restaurant from our table. The other side has leather banquettes and round tables.
We decided to share three desserts among the three of us – profiteroles, a mango tart, and a flourless chocolate cake. There were several other tempting choices, but if what we chose is any indication to go by, they’re all winners. The profiteroles were filled with three different types of ice-cream, malt, mint, and vanilla. All were delicious, but the mint ice-cream had pieces of real mint in it and the flavor was explosive. The mango tart was fresh and light with shreds of mango atop. The flourless cake was rich, moist, and full of flavor. We debated which dessert we’d order if we came back individually, and there was no clear favorite – they were all contenders. Hats off to the Pastry Chef, Marisa Croce. We’re eager to come back for a full meal prepared by Head Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, winner of Iron Chef America.
Today’s expression, la qualité se révèle à l’usage (lah kal-ee-tay suh revell ah luzahj) literally means “the quality is revealed in the usage.” It’s the French equivalent of the English expression “the proof is in the pudding,” or “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” But don’t take my word for how good the desserts are at The National; head over there yourself and order a dessert or three.