6 at 51st St.; 4, 5, 6 at 59th St.; E, M at Lexington Ave.-53rd St.
American Express, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
If Geoffrey Zakarian's new bistro, the National, were downtown, it would be just another seasonal, locally-sourced menu served amid artful décor. Yawn. But given its decidedly unhip midtown location inside the Benjamin Hotel, it stands out as a gem. Fish plates are particularly appealing, but not every item on the menu succeeds. The National’s aesthetic is McNally-esque—both old-timey and au courant. Tables are surrounded by generous banquettes of soft brown leather, recently-laid tiles look to have been there forever, and delicate stemware straddle the classic and contemporary. When the quitting whistle goes off in nearby skyscrapers, the bar room fills with suits: Young ballers popping Champagne over oysters and enormous steaks would not be an unusual sight on a Tuesday, and neither would tourist families with young children in tow. But if you can find your way to the adorable nook for four tucked in the corner of the back room, you probably won’t even notice.Recommended Dishes
Scottish salmon, $27; burger, $17