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Restaurant Review: Native, Covent Garden in London


Native know how to appreciate what’s right under their nose. Instead of perfecting their culinary skills with exotic characteristics from far flung corners of the globe; hidden within Neal’s Yard, they instead prefer to raid the underappreciated diversity of Britain’s wild larder, showcasing the potential of local produce.

Headlining game, wild foods and rare breeds, the passionate force that has driven Native’s unique concept are forward thinking co-founders Imogen Davis and Chef-Patron Ivan Tisdall-Downes, who originally met at university and ran intimate supper clubs prior to launching the forage focused restaurant. Channelling principles of sustainability directly into Native’s gastronomic ethos, having trained at the organically renowned River Cottage, Ivan Tisdall-Downes echoes the health benefits directly related to eating wild grown game, whilst spearheading a menu of robust and distinct flavours.

Native looks to provide its guests with an original dining experience that encapsulates the country’s best wild food that is native to the UK through a combination of innovative cooking and country thrift

An undeniably creative menu, underappreciated and often overlooked local ingredients sing for themselves and include high quality meats, vegetables and fish found across Britain today. Innovative techniques combined with the popular street food trend, this unique attitude displaying an array of flavour combinations also aims to alter the public’s perception of game meat with meticulous presentation and a deliciously different dining experience.

Perched at the chef’s table there is no better position within this humbly set restaurant to truly experience first-hand what Native is all about. Overlooking how each inch of their small show kitchen operates, hearty chunks of homemade rhubarb bread are cut for us to tear and share whilst we watch the detailed creation of each dish.

The food looks to unite the country’s best Foraged Foods and Game in a laid back, full flavour adventure through the British seasons.

A constant and ever changing appreciation for local seasonal demands, the versatile lunch and dinner menus are constantly playing with and twisting familiar dishes within the simplistic, Nordic inspired décor. A re-introduction due to popular demand, their famous pigeon kebab is whipped up under our noses – a party of tastes and colours including vivid beetroot that is placed upon a homemade flatbread – truly encapsulating Native in one dish.

A position also allowing us to eye each of the out-going orders and undoubtedly influencing our orders, we choose to share all everything in a bid to avoid missing out. To start, we are presented with wild hare ragù with buttered salsify, native curds and pickled walnuts and the beautifully presented torched Dorset mackerel with salt baked beets with rhubarb, hay cream and oats.

Native was concocted by Ivan & Imogen, who together have scaled the mountains of street food markets and pop up resturants to finally settle in the tranquil setting of Neal’s Yard

To follow we stick with our satisfactory fish to meat ratio. Native’s Cornish pollock is served with split pea dahl, cauliflower leaf pakora and picked seeds which we pair with effortlessly tender cuts of South Downs venison served with English turnips & tops, pine salt, smoked potato and a bone marrow crumb. These are complemented with sides of charred January king cabbage with miso butter and large English roasted Portobello mushrooms with three cornered garlic, which equally hold as much personality, love and attention. A lighter dessert – we pick apart Native’s ingenious homemade ‘Alexander’ marshmallow fluff and their signature sweet, sour meadowsweet & Kentish wood ant fudge; Native’s unique interpretation of petit fours.

Concealed within one of the intimate corners of Neal’s Yard, Native showcases the culinary capabilities of our country. A personality alive with a conscious and sustainable ethos, the individual attitude of Native is woven throughout its menu and ultimately illustrated in the detail of their presentation for a restaurant that is as proud to present the locally overlooked.

Address: Native, 3 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9DP, @eatnativeuk