National Dining Rooms

  • Restaurants
  • British
Critics' choice
© Michael Franke
Leicester Square

Skip past the droves of tourists congregating around Trafalgar Square, and congratulate yourself for knowing about this haven among the endless horror-show chain restaurants in the area. Ascend the stairs to Oliver Peyton’s first-floor dining room – in the quieter Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery – and enter a professionally run and peaceful place, where the views (over the Square in one direction, of a vast Paula Rego mural in the other) are matched by the superb food. It’s formal and slick enough for a special occasion, yet would also do splendidly as a stop-off during a day’s sightseeing.

Prices are on the high side, but there’s a good-value set lunch including a glass of wine, which is well worth taking time over. Dishes are light, artfully presented with clever additions. They also make the most of slap-bang-in-season ingredients: an early spring vegetable salad featured delicately braised chunks of squash, golden beetroot and carrot, a line of vivid beetroot ‘dust’ and horseradish popcorn. Poached chicken is enlivened with ‘Marmite and bacon’ toast; venison haunch may come with damsons and liquorice. Service on our visit was notably keen and accommodating. There are also set menus for Sunday lunch and afternoon tea. Note that dinner is available only on Fridays.

 

Venue name: National Dining Rooms
Contact:
Address: Sainsbury Wing
Trafalgar Square
London
WC2N 5DN
Cross street: National Gallery
Opening hours: Bakery Meals served 10am-5.30pm Mon-Thur, Sat, Sun; 10am-8.30pm Fri. Main courses £6-£10. Restaurant Lunch served noon-3.30pm daily. Dinner served 5-7.30pm Fri
Transport: Tube: Charing Cross
Price: Main courses £18-£20. Set meal £27.50 2 courses incl glass of wine, £30.50 3 courses incl glass of wine

Average User Rating

1 / 5

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Andrew

Went here for Sunday lunch having read time out's great review. It was a hugely disappointing experience. The service was very slow at all points of the meal. Starters were lovely and very well presented. However the Sunday roast mains were not warm enough, there was no lamb left (we had booked for 1.45- not especially late on a Sunday) and disappointing roast potatoes considering the price. They then only brought one dessert rather than the two that we had ordered (two of the desserts on the menu were not available- we were not told this when given the menu, but only when we tried to order them). Having asked to see the manager, he was apologetic and said that they were short staffed in the kitchen and as a result he had not been on the floor to oversee the service. He also told us that he was shocked at how disorganised the kitchen was! He did remove some items from the bill and gave us his card so we could arrange with him to visit again. Having read reviews on other websites it sounds like we are not alone in having a mediocre experience here. Even with items removed from the bill, it was still poor value for money.