National treasure with a twist
JAMES Diack first debúted his farm-to-fork approach as Chef Patron of Coobs in 2012. Three years later, he opened up Parktown North’s The National Eatery, where he has continued – but with a somewhat audacious, smokier menu.
The flavour profile ranges from smoky Texan to South American and from Asian to bistro. It sounds rather eclectic and it honestly is.
The National Eatery has a devoted following, serves as a cosy neighbourhood locale where you can drop by to enjoy unfussy, comforting and filling food made with the finest farm-fresh ingredients sourced from Diack’s family farm, Brightside, in the Magaliesberg. “All our vegetables are organic and the free-range chickens, ducks, eggs, acorn-fed pigs and wild boar, as well as the grass-fed Suffolk lamb and Dexter beef, are reared there”, says Diack proudly.
The National is headed by chef Wayne Dietrich, who has conceptualised a seasonal menu that draws from a variety of influences and cooking styles. It’s trendy and sophisticated.
A beautiful copper bar divides the restaurant from the bar, the decor is cool but doesn’t try too hard and the outside deck is perfect for warm nights.
The wine list at The National Eatery is outstanding. “It has none of the usual suspects, but the list still remains very well priced”, proclaims Dietrich.
“From Rieslings to Cinsaults, Pinot Noirs to Grenache Blancs, there is something for every wine fundi, and with over 60 choices.”
Diack and his team have plans to host regular meet-the-maker wine events. The house wine is Kaapzicht Pettirosso, which comes in a magnum bottle.
Service at The National is casual and warm. Waiters are informed, helpful and efficient, but could be more attentive in topping up wine glasses.
I asked Dietrich what the must-try items from the starters section are, and he replied with the conviction, “Definitely, the sriracha chicken steamed buns”.
I’ve never been one for cults, but when it comes to sriracha Johannesburg. sauce, I’m in for life. This was beautiful, light, fluffy, flavoursome.
For mains, the signature dishes are sticky confit pork belly with tossed new potatoes and crackling, and slow braised acornfed wild boar ragu with hand-cut 19 Fourth Avenue, Parktown North, pappardelle. I opted for great pulled duck and mixed veg in Thai red curry sauce with rice cakes.
If you’re after something decadent to round off your meal, you’ll find traditional malva pudding, which is a marvel.
ON TREND: The National Eatery, at