I've been wanting to go to the southside's The National for a while now. I've heard only good things about it, and I know they pay close attention to fresh, local ingredients. I figured I would love it.
And I was right. Nate and I both had off work last Tuesday, so we headed there for lunch. The cafe--in a sort of unexpected spot--is super cozy and cute inside. It's not too big of a place, which is nice, so the tables are a bit spread out from one another. The menu isn't too extensive, but it's got everything you need: sandwiches, soups and salads, plus breakfast items if you make it in early enough. Plus, there's coffee drinks, beer, wine and other beverages.
We each started with a bowl of soup. It looks like they have two soup specials per day. Nate had the tomato basil soup. It was fantastic. I'd love to make the tomato basil soup sometime--it seems easy enough to do and you could even use a can of chunky tomato soup and some pre-made basil.
I had the curry sweet potato soup, which was just as good. I thought it would have chunks of sweet potatoes in it, but the soup had been blended, giving it a smooth, silky texture and wonderful taste.
Then we each had a sandwich, and, lucky for me, Nate agreed to do halfsies with me! So we each got a good taste of each sandwich. Nate ordered the ultimate ham and cheese (on the left, below), which was made with mango jalapeno cheese. It was supposed to come with mango ketchup for dipping, but it didn't and we were too busy eating to get up and ask about it.
I ordered one of the sandwich specials of the day: a turkey, roasted red pepper and provolone panino. It was very good, but would have been better with some kind of spread or sauce on it--sometime even like mayo, pesto, garlic aioli ... It was a little dry, but would have been perfect with a bit of spread/sauce.
Both sandwiches came with blue tortilla chips and a dipping sauce, too. Nate had the salsa and I had the black bean dip.
All in all, we had a great experience, and I know we'll go back. In retrospect, I should have ordered the half soup, half sandwich combo. It was A LOT of food doing it the way we did it! I'd like to try it for breakfast/brunch sometime. The breakfast burrito is calling my name!