Set in the historic surrounds of one of Belfast’s oldest buildings – the former National Bank Building on High Street – the venue has been updated with fresh, new interiors and a revamped food and drink offering, with a focus on breakfast, lunch, high-quality coffee and cocktails.
The evolution of The National includes a total transformation of the lofty ground floor space, with, the introduction of stylish new ridged oak panelling and exposed brick walls, which pop against a dark blue colour scheme. Striking contemporary art and a statement blue and green herringbone tiled bar add a splash of colour to the classic muted notes of the stylish space. Banquette seating around the edge of the ground floor space creates a series of cosy, comfortable nooks, while two marble topped islands provide further seating space, with the addition of charging points, perfect for those on the go.
The new-look venue will seamlessly transition from day to night, aided by clever lighting and the introduction of a state-of-the-art projection system that will project motion graphics, created by local artists.
Outside, in The National’s popular Garden, the installation of a fully retractable awning and new heating system creates a welcoming all-weather space for alfresco dining and drinks in the heart of the city.
The National will open for breakfast at 8.30am and will serve food throughout the day until 5pm, with an all-day breakfast menu featuring a range of classic full breakfasts (including vegetarian and vegan options); sourdough pancake and sweet waffle stacks and a range of Eggs Benedict dishes. Meanwhile, a range of deluxe sandwiches, salads and tapas are designed for all-day grazing.
A range of regular events will cater to the growing foodie scene in the city, including a new monthly Supper Club, which will bring an exciting twist to Monday evenings. Taking place on the first Monday of every month, each bespoke dining experience will reflect a different theme or cuisine, ranging from vegetarian to Indian themed nights. Kicking off The Supper Club series on Monday March 4th is ‘Nacho Average Monday’ – a Mexican themed night, inviting guests to feast on a selection of mouth-watering dishes inspired by the regions of Baja and Pueblo – all washed down with bottomless Margaritas.
At night, the venue will morph into a lively, sociable space, serving drinks late into the evening, with a revised programme of DJ-led entertainment spanning both the ground floor and upper levels at weekends.
In line with the Beannchor Group’s commitment to reduce the environmental impact of its businesses, sustainability considerations were core to the redevelopment, with a range of new initiatives designed to the reduce carbon footprint of the venue.
With an ambition to achieve zero food waste, the new food and drinks menus have been created following significant research into the most sustainable food preparation techniques. In particular, the venue is making a big commitment to reducing needless fruit waste that is often associated with drinks lists, using the whole fruit for garnishes, homemade juices, syrups and cordials. The updated food menu will feature a range of tasty dishes, made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients, reducing food miles, to support The National’s sustainability strategy. A range of initiatives including the introduction of compostable takeaway coffee cups, menus printed on sustainable paper and a no straw policy will also boost the green credentials of the venue and reduce the use of plastics.
The National is also partnering with FareShare Northern Ireland, a charity set up to combat the fight against hunger and redistribute surplus food to those most in need. As part of Beannchor’s community outreach efforts, The National will contribute at least £5,000 of financial aid to the charity over the next 12 months. This target goal will be achieved by ‘A Breakfast for a Breakfast’ initiative; where 30p from each breakfast purchased will be donated to support FareShare’s efforts to provide at least 13,450 meals to feed vulnerable children and people experiencing homelessness across Northern Ireland each year.
Speaking at the opening, Conall Wolsey, director of the Beannchor Group said: “In this industry, constant innovation and improvement is crucial as consumer tastes change. This project is about an evolution of our offering at The National; from the updated interiors that create a more comfortable, inviting environment through to our new and improved food and drink menus.
“Above all, being a business with a social conscience has driven many of the changes, alongside the introduction of a range of new policies and initiatives that will lessen our environmental impact. Our vision is that The National will be a space that will have a positive impact, not just in terms of improving the local hospitality offering, but also in championing a more sustainable approach to business.”
The Beannchor Group has continued to grow in recent years, despite the tough economic climate, having completed a multi-million pound expansion of Bullitt Belfast and expanded its network of Little Wing Pizzerias. Beannchor has an annual turnover of approximately £20 million and directly employs 750 staff.
The National is now open to the public, seven days a week from 8.30am Monday to Friday and from 9.30am on weekends. For more information, visit www.thenationalbelfast.com or connect with The National on Facebook and Instagram @nationalbelfast
Conall & Petra Wolsey At The National