The National Cafe is the Peyton and Byrne venture inside the National Gallery, it has been there for a year or perhaps more but I visited for the first time last week. It is beautifully designed, a little like having a slap up lunch in a library or the dining room in an old country house. We visited the cafe, which is attached to the brasserie, which also looks good and may warrant a visit soon.
The centre piece of the cafe is a large dresser like table covered in cakes and pastries from which you help yourself, using a pleasingly old fashioned cake slice. The cakes are all homemade looking and unimpeded by wrapping of any sort, so the effect is that of visiting an enthusiastic Aunt's house for tea and being invited to help yourself to whatever you want, which cleverly allows you to forget you will actually have to pay for it when you reach the counter. The sandwiches are fresh and made with good dense bread, I had pitta bread, hummus and tomato and onion salad, all of which was lovely, the hummus tasting pleasingly tahini filled.
Once you have loaded your plates with cake and paid you can either sit at a table or perch on a stool at a bar which gives you a surprisingly entertaining view of the cake stand and allows you to watch other people loading their plates with cake. All in all it was a pleasing experience and I have already chosen three more types of cake to try which means I will need to go back at least three more times (the giant fig rolls look particularly exciting).