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National Café

Leicester Square

This handsome space at the Charing Cross Road side of the National Gallery is thronged with sightseers and local workers during the day (when the self-service sandwich bar at the rear is also open), but it can make a calming retreat for dinner or drinks come the evening. Glossy black walls and high windows overlook smart little wooden tables and red seating in the brasserie area; the bar occupies the wall opposite. Breakfasts (porridge, pastries, eggs benedict, cheese on toast), afternoon tea and extravagant ice-cream sundaes (ideal for placating youngsters) are also served. As you expect from an Oliver Peyton operation, the quality of ingredients and cooking is high and the menu is a seasonal treat encompassing all tastes. There are old-school classics (burger, steak and ale pie), salads, pasta dishes, grills, a kids’ menu and top-notch cheese and charcuterie boards. Staff were amenable, though could have been more attentive considering the lack of custom on our midweek visit. The main problem is pricing. Cod and chips for £13.50, macaroni cheese for £9.50, gooseberry fool for £7.50: everything costs a couple of quid more than you expect. And that, despite the enjoyable food, leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Venue name: National Café
Contact:
Address: East Wing
Trafalgar Square
London
WC2N 5DN
Cross street: National Gallery
Opening hours: Breakfast served 8-11.30am, lunch served noon-5pm, tea served 3-5.30pm daily. Dinner served 5.30-11pm Mon-Sat. Meals served 10am-6pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Charing Cross tube/rail
Price: Main courses £8.50-£16.50. Set dinner (5.30-7pm) £14.50 2 courses, £17.50 3 courses
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