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Growing from a successful pop-up, Native has now settled in this compact Covent Garden site, bringing foraged ingredients and a daily changing modern British menu to Neal’s Yard. The venture is run by Imogen Davis (a falconer) and Ivan Tisdall-Downes (chef-patron and River Cottage alumnus) and consists of a ground-floor open kitchen with a few counter seats – the best spot to view the action – and a snug basement dining room decorated with plants and tree bark. On our visit, vivid yellow pickled pear was overpowered by intense Lincolnshire Poacher cheese, but carefully cooked roast hake fared much better, partnered by deep-fried cauliflower pakora to create a tasty contrast of soft flesh and crisp spiciness. A comforting plate of venison hash beneath a fried egg and broad-bean tops arrived in a generous portion for £11. Our highlight, however, was the rhubarb and custard dessert, scattered with chunks of coriander honeycomb and infused with meadowsweet: a blend of sweet, sticky, fragrant and fresh in one mouthful. The drinks list champions Gloucestershire’s Three Choirs vineyard alongside European wines, but Native’s trump card is its genuinely friendly atmosphere. Anyone seeking good-value British food at a restaurant buoyed by sheer enthusiasm should look no further.
When? Early February 2016What is it? Native is a new restaurant that will specialise in game, wild food and rare breeds, focusing on the robust and distinctive flavours found when raiding Britain’s wild larder.Who’s behind it? Native was co-founded by Imogen Davis and Chef-Patron Ivan Tisdall-Downes. They ran supper clubs before launching Native and Ivan Tisdall-Downes worked at Jascots Wine Merchants and River Cottage HQ.Size? Capacity of 30.
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Native is my absolute new favourite restaurant, and it’s just around the corner from my new office. I’m very smug about this.I managed to bag a spot in the February soft launch (the same day as Jay Rayner, in fact, before he gave it a glowing review in The Observer), but got so drunk with Jay – a different one – that I couldn’t remember the food in any useful detail, except that it was bloody good.
More from Londonamps best deal on Londonamps best steak Hawksmoor with Bookatable amp Curious London »
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