This weekend, after a few days away and a few too many cocktails, I dragged myself to the West Village/Meatpacking area for a nice dinner with the GIP and JK at La Nacional, a tapas bar founded in 1868 as a gathering spot for the Benevolent Spanish Society. The restaurant is a bit hard to find but once you get there you find yourself in an incredibly charming, unpretentious and rustic room filled with the festive energy of a late night dinner in Europe (hellz!). I instantly thought of calling this place home. We ordered a bottle of Cava (for those not in the know it’s a Spanish sparkling wine, big bubbles, less refined than Champagne) and took to ordering a smattering of tapas and an order of paella. I think I speak for the three of us when I say that not one dish really stuck out as being amazing or memorable. The patatas where nothing short of cubed potatoes with an unidentifiable white and red sauce while the shrimp was a bit inedible and over cooked. The cheese and chorizo left much to be desired while we all expected a lot more out of the paella…sadly, it was bland and uneventful but at least we were in the company of some very tasty and not too sweet white sangria. Now, I am not and have never been a fan of sangira, but La Nacional’s was incredibly well made. The wine was cold and of good quality while the fruits were fresh and tart (like our conversations, but that’s another story). I can hardly remember what we ordered for dessert…on second look at the menu, it was a custard and bread pudding. I couldn’t really tell you how they were as I was basically half in the tank by that point…but I know this: The custard had an off taste and the bread pudding was plain and meh. The food and wine are decently priced but thanks to a certain gentleman, I didn’t see the check (that’s right ladies, there is one man left in Manhattan, back off). I probably won’t be running back to La Nacional anytime soon and it’s too bad that for all of it’s rustic charm and wiley Spanish ways, it couldn’t deliver on the food.
Read an alternate review from Ed Levine here.
La Nacional is located at 239 West 14th St. (212.243.9308)