The National: easy, relaxed eatery

The National Chef James Diack.

The National Chef James Diack.

Chef James Diack, who also owns contemporary bistro Coobs in Parkhurst, has opened up a new restaurant that’s sure to attract – and keep – a host of loyal food worshippers…

If you’re in the mood for delicious yet laidback food, head to The National in Parktown North. “The food is slightly simpler than at Coobs, but just as beautifully presented and just a little more rustic,” says Diack. The prices, which are far more reasonable, also reflect this attitude.

Funky interiors, The National.

The funky interiors at The National.

This everyday eatery offers up smoky Texan, South American and other flavourful dishes, including burgers (try the free-range lamb with chermoula ricotta and tsatziki), hot bowls (vegetarians will love the coriander and chilli crispy fried tofu) and pulled-pork buns.

Decor-wise, expect exposed brick and copper piping in the bar, distressed wood-panelling, punchy bright colours and an intimate, chilled out vibe.

For starters, choose from dishes like tempura prawns and squid tentacles; coriander infused hot cakes; and a charcuterie board with a variety of homemade, free-range cured meats and pates with freshly baked bread, cheeses and pickles.

Smoked pork belly, becoming a firm favourite on the menu.

The smoked pork belly is becoming a firm favourite on the menu.

Turn to “From the Smoker” on the menu for a whole section inspired by the restaurant’s reverse Texan smoker on Brightside, the family farm in Magalieberg. Think smoked pork belly with corn puree, BBQ jus and smoked paprika crackling squares. (Don’t feel bad if you just drooled on yourself a little.) The majority of ingredients are supplied by the farm – Diack’s mother Janet is passionate about farming and supplying the restaurants. “Coobs and The National are now two of the only restaurants in South Africa which can accurately trace the provenance of their food – meaning we know exactly where our ingredients come from,” explains Diack. “It also means our menus are seasonal and based on what’s available from the farm.”

Tempura prawns and squidheads.

Tempura prawns and squidheads.

If you’d like a more casual meal, try their traditional cubano – a Cuban sandwich served with homemade pickles, fontina cheese and mustard mayo on crispy toasted bread served with either pulled pork belly, marinated veg, pastrami or smoked chicken mayo.

Decadent chocolate lovers will fall in love with the deep-fried Snickers bar with fresh vanilla crème and chocolate chip ice cream. Sinfully good!

Deliciously decadent - deep-fried Snickers.

Deliciously decadent – deep-fried Snickers.

Expect a selection of wines sourced from South Africa’s best boutique wine farms, plus a decent selection of spirits.

The National: 19 4th Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesbur. Open Monday-Saturday for lunch and dinner. For bookings, tel: +27 11 327 3030, or mail

Exterior of The National in Parktown North. All images courtesy The National.

The exterior of The National. All images courtesy of The National.

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