Monday, February 16, 2009

Highlight 144: girl trip - restaurant: the National (Athens, GA)

One thing that really surprised me when I started working for our firm office in Atlanta was how many attorneys had once walked the halls of either UGA or Georgia Tech. Before this, I had never knew that people stayed in the town where they went to school. Of all my friends and acquaintances that went to Carnegie Mellon, I know only of a single person who now lives in Pittsburgh and he doesn't even work there (job in Chicago and flies back every weekend. I know, crazy! But he loves his wife :) A good man is what he is.) I suppose this staying around says something about this town. I suppose it says that this is a place where people feel that their dreams of adulthood can be realized. And that is a good thing. But that's not the point of this post. The point of talking about this is that I work with many who know and love Athens, Georgia, the home of UGA, and they highly recommend that I check it out. So this weekend I finally did.

As with all my trips, this one started with food. My first choice was Five and Ten, but it was not open for lunch on Saturday, so we ended up at the National, Five and Ten's little brother. At 11:30am on a Saturday, the National was quiet and extruded a sort of quaint small town charm. Naturally arranged branches and flowers adorned the tables. Yet there was a certain unforced refinement to it all. Just look at that kumquat in the vase on our table. I dare you to name another restaurant in Atlanta that has these arranged so beautifully yet casually on its lunch tables.

The lunch menu is fairly simple with mostly salads and sandwiches, but each sounded just a little bit special. An open face lamb sandwich caught my eye and I placed my bet. And a good pay off was my reward. For $11, I received an artfully arranged meal. Set on top a bed of dressed baby arugula was a crispy hunk of grilled bread generously slathered with soft goat cheese. On top of that was a soft mound of very thinly shaved roasted lamb leg. Perfectly pink, the lamb was very tender, but unmistakably lamby, the way I prefer. The whole thing was really quite simple, yet very elegant and well done, just like the the kumquat arrangement on the table.

Lunch or dinner, I am incapable of finishing a meal without dessert, so we got two. Somehow, when I eat out with people, we always end up with a chocolate thing, even though I never order it. I guess chocolate is the ultimate dessert. The funny thing is I am the one that is known to eat big chunks of chocolate for what I call breakfast dessert at 9am... Go figure.

The dulce de leche, in this case, outshone the chocolate tart, which was too hard from hanging out in the fridge. The dulce de leche was just soaked enough to be milky all through, but still structurally sound to hold its shape against our repeated assault.

After lunch, my girlfriend and I worked in a good afternoon of vintage shopping. While we didn't end up buying much, it was the hunt that was fun. After working off the calories we made it home just in time for her big homemade V-day dinner with the bf. With the husband out of town, I expected to come home to a quiet glass of wine, which is really the way I prefer. Not one to be forgotten completely (him not me), the husband managed to have two dozen bright orange roses waiting for me by the door. As much as I never cared about V-day as it's mostly a horrible day where all the restaurants are full and less than stellar food is served, it's always nice to feel loved especially by one who is freezing his butt off half a world a way. :)

The National
232 W. Hancock Ave.
Athens, GA 30601
706-549-3450

1 comment:

Alisa@Foodista said...

Awwww...he sent you flowers! Sounds like a great weekend lunch! Your sandwich looks really yummy!