With the change in season, we often only focus on fashion trends, but really, we should be thinking about food trends as well. Why? Well, according to Wayne Dietrich — Head Chef of The National eatery and speakeasy in Parktown North — smoky undertones and light, zesty dishes are the flavours for this winter. I know it may seem and sound odd because we are accustomed to our creamy greasy comfort food dishes. However, The National is here to prove comfort doesn’t necessarily have to be creamy, greasy or fatty covered in chocolate.
Last week, 31 May 2018, I was invited to The National JHB Winter Menu launch. First thing I asked was if there would be any vegan options — to my delightful surprise, there are vegan options available. And it wasn’t just for me for the launch, but if you are vegan or vegetarian, The National actually has magnificent options for you too. Best still, the dishes did not move away from the flavours of winter either. As Chef Wayne said, “Our winter dishes are about warming the soul with fresh, healthy ingredients prepared with our classic flavours of smoke and spice”, this applies to the entire menu, meaty and vegan.
“Some of the standout, seasonal ingredients featured on the winter menu are beetroot and pumpkin, both of which are featured across a variety of dishes. We have used spice, including cumin, coriander and paprika, to bring out our classic, smoky flavours and have played with winter colours from the choice of plate, to the combinations of multihued ingredients,” says Chef Wayne.
For starters, I had the decadent vegan Pumpkin Soup. Loved the consistency and thickness of it, I could also taste either beans, peas or seeds in the soup that definitely made it all the more filling and comforting. There was also a slight spiciness and subtle zestiness to the overall starter. My only issue was, finishing the entire dish would’ve meant I couldn’t eat anything else afterwards. But it was really good, I was simply too shy to ask for the recipe to try at home, cause you know, might as well just go enjoy it straight from the restaurant, made by the chef himself.
For mains, the National Stir Fry with tofu was a go. I absolutely love this dish! It is fresh, while incorporating that smoky Asian flavour to it. I was really impressed far beyond expectation. Noteworthy ingredients are definitely the glass noodles, the smoky and spicy tofu, and the zesty red cabbage. Typing this out just makes me want the meal all over again, so freaking good! And I was also impressed as to how nicely filling the dish is, I did not have that slightly lingering want for more, I was perfectly satisfied.
For dessert, I opted for the Lavender Sorbet. At home I’m currently obsessed with my Forty Winks lavender tea from, Woolworths — so naturally, everything else lavender is winning in my books. As opposed to usually reaching out for the coffee or expresso to give you that much needed boost of energy to resume the day after a hearty meal, this sorbet was exactly what I needed. It was refreshing, rejuvenating, light, and absolutely perfect after a hearty meal.
Be sure to visit The National JHB soon to taste their fabulous winter menu. Word has it even the meaty options are incredibly delicious. Also follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and like their Facebook page. If you have already been to the restaurant, how did you find the winter menu? Let us know in the comment section below!