Native

Restaurants, British Covent Garden
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(9user reviews)
70 Love It
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Native
Venue says Come and join us in your lunch break, there's plenty of time to try out our new spring dishes!

A teeny Neal’s Yard pop-up-gone-permanent celebrating the best of Britain’s wild, native food.

‘Wild thing. You make my heart sing. You make everything… groovy.’ I’m singing this (it’s the Troggs, youngsters), not because I’m in the shower or have a hairbrush to hand, but as an ode to last night’s restaurant. A Neal’s Yard spot celebrating the best of Britain’s wild, native food. An eatery with a free spirit.

As with so many of London’s most exciting new restaurants, the team started with pop-ups and street stalls before finally taking on this permanent site. In the kitchen is chef Ivan Tisdall-Downes, who was self-taught before training at the River Cottage in Devon. Front of house is Imogen Davis, who grew up in Northamptonshire, running her family falconry business (she had her own falcon – how cool is that?) and generally being a hunter-gatherer extraordinaire. The cooking is reflection of ingredients they love, plus spicing from the Med, Middle East and beyond.

‘Venison’, enthuses Imogen, ‘is on the menu all year, because we use six kinds of British deer, each of which have a different season. Right now, it’s Fallow.’ Also in season is ramsom (wild garlic), which pokes up through the menu like an unruly but delicious weed: in a fragrant broth of teeny palourde clams with pheasant and pigs’ trotter, say. ‘We never put anything on the menu that we don’t absolutely love ourselves’, she beams.

Other star turns included a trendy ‘open’ kebab of pink pigeon chunks beautifully offset by lightly pickled cabbage and a harissa-spiked sweet beetroot hummus; or succulent roast hake served over a chunky chickpea dahl with wild chervil and moreish battered cauliflower pakora.

So we were surprised – and, frankly a bit gutted – that desserts lacked the same flair: the ‘coriander’ honeycomb in the rhubarb and meadowsweet custard, for instance, ruined the dish.

Still, Native is adorable. It’s teeny tiny – this unit used to be a bead shop – its whitewashed walls festooned with sprigs of greens. Receipts are sent electronically, to save on unnecessary printing. Most tables are in the basement (tip: ask for ‘the booth’), but if you sit at the dinky street level kitchen bar, you can bask in the kitchen’s energy. There are fresh flowers on the tables, and old books in the loo. ‘Wild thing: I think I love you’.

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Native says
Nestled in the heart of Covent Garden, Native looks to provide its guests with an original dining experience that encapsulates the country's best wild food native to the UK through a combination of innovative cooking and country thrift. Our food looks to unite the country’s best foraged foods and game in a laid back, full flavour adventure through the British seasons.
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By: Tania Ballantine

Posted:

Venue name: Native
Contact:
Address: Native
3 Neal's Yard
London
WC2H 9DP
Transport: Tube: Covent Garden
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Average User Rating

3.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|9
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Bonnie W
1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Native is situated in the lovely and colourful Neal's Yard where they have a couple of tables looking out onto the courtyard. The rest of the tables are downstairs in a small white and bright room. The menu is short and seasonal, with one cocktail and four starters, mains and desserts. The food was all delicious and the portions were just right. I had a roast celeriac and goat's curd with a side of purple broccoli and rhubarb with custard for desert. The seasonal cocktail was also light and refreshing - it was a mixture of prosecco, gin and elderflower. The service was cheerful, friendly and attentive up until dessert. Although the restaurant was almost empty when we were there, it took at least 15 minutes for our dessert to arrive after ordering. Because our booking was for 6:30 we got the two course pre theatre menu which cost £20. Be aware though that it may actually be cheaper to pay a la carte. My vegetarian main and desert would have cost less that way and it was too bad the server didn't mention this. Native is a nice new addition to the Seven Dials area and definitely worth a try for some locally sourced, fresh and tasty dishes.

Marta Lucia K
tastemaker

What a quaint and intimate place this is, fitting in perfectly with the sort of fairy-ish feel of Neal's Yard, not to mention the food is wonderful. It seems small at first but there is a seating area below, although definitely book ahead because it's limited space-wise. If you are lucky enough to be seated at the one table upstairs you will be able to appreciate the cooks in action, which I personally always enjoy. Frankly, I wouldn't mind getting proposed to in a place like this. 


Me and my friend both did the three-course menu, which is 30 quid and opted to have different things for each course so as to get a fuller culinary experience. For the starter he had the mackerel and I had the ragú. The ragú was excellent. It was rich but not overwhelming and had great texture in the form of pickled walnuts. I tend to like fish if it doesn't taste fishy (if that makes sense) and unfortunately the mackerel didn't do it for me in the regard, although it had a nice hay cream on the side and some beets. 


For main I had the venison and my mate the roasted cauliflower and these were both knockouts. The cauliflower is fairly simple --it's charred--but if everyone could cook cauliflower like this I suspect we'd all be eating more vegetables. The venison was delicious too. Not melt in your mouth unfortunately, but tender enough that I wasn't chewing for millenia. 


The dessert was 50/50. I had a dessert that was a douglas fir (yes, the pine tree) millet crumble and there was also a cream/meringue element to the dish. Unfortunately I don't remember all the specifications but if you see it on the menu you'll know what I mean. Unfortunately it lacked dimension flavour-wise, although the crumble went well with the above mentioned cream-meringue thing. My friend's dessert on the other hand, a rhubarb compote (which to be honest I wouldn't describe as a compote--you can see for yourself in the photo) had that sort of freshness and contrast that I craved in my own dessert. I love dessert but it was my least favorite part of the meal on this occassion.


The service is impeccable and although we waited a bit between courses our server was very apologetic, friendly and responsive. Portions are small and I could definitely have had another course but I enjoyed my evening and would definitely come back to try a different variation of the menu! 



Jennifer S
Tastemaker

OMG this place has amazing food. A work source and I met here for lunch today and we got the £20 two course option (pricey for lunch but you get what you pay for). I ordered the Jerusalem Artichoke, English Grains, Lincolnshire Poacher, Watercress (n) as a starter and the Slow Roast Cauliflower, Isle of Mull Cheddar, Braised Onions, Ricotta as a main. I also got the Charred January King Cabbage, Miso Butter for £4.


The artichoke dish is small but incredibly rich and tasty. Seriously, mouth bursting with flavour delicious. The grains are just chewy enough and the cheese (poacher) melted just perfectly. The cauliflower is good accompaniment to the starter, toasted enough to have a rich flavout. The cabbage is huge as a side and takes quite a bit of slicing and dicing time but it's so rich with the miso butter I was overtly full at the end! No room for the dessert (and ant fudge creeps me out anyway).


My lunch colleague had the portobello mushroom side and the venison and said he was quite pleased. 


The server kindly turned down the music upon my request for better conversation. He was also unobtrusive enough and easy to flag down. The restaurant is tiny and there are winding steps downstairs to the main seating area so avoid heels. 

Noemi G
tastemaker

I went to Native with my colleagues for a staff night out. The space is homey and welcoming and the service good - not outstanding but good enough to be enjoyable! The wines were my favourite thing on the menu - especially the white (we tried a few ha!) 

The quality of the food is very good, you can taste it from the start. I guess the only thing I would change is the menu, and the portions. There isn't much variety which is always a problem with big groups (especially for people with dietary requirements! It must be said though that the chef was willing to accommodate which was much appreciated!) 

Also, because the dishes are so well described on the menu, the portions are for some of them too small, to a point that you eagerly wait for something that disappoints you for how small it is. 

The place has a lot of potential and certainly quality food - it's worth a try if you are into meat and British food. But don't expect to be full after!

Chloe W
tastemaker

Native is a lovely restaurant that can be found tucked away from the main hubbub of Seven Dials in Neal's Yard. 


Although it may appear small when you first look in, you are taken down a spiral staircase to a lovely downstairs dining room, that is decorated to make you feel like you have stepped out of London, with foliage covering the walls, seasonal flowers on the tables, and lots of wood. 


The food is simply divine. Pigeon kebab that is full of spice, accompanied by the Brixham crab with a Braddock white duck egg is a fantastic start to the meal. The venison was perfectly cooked and melted in the mouth, which a black pudding that will convert even the most sceptical of diners, and the oats and pumpkin add depth and texture to a rich but delicious mallard dish. 


Personally, I would suggest keeping clear of the pear as this left a funny taste in the mouth, and opting for the cheese with prune loaf - a delight to eat. 


Overall, a great place to escape from the winter and enjoy some fantastic British produce and seasonal game. 

Sarah D

Fantastic find! Gorgeous location in Neal's Yard, the most friendly, passionate team and the food and drink...! We pretty much covered the whole menu between four of us, it was hard to choose stand outs but the pigeon kebabs, and pheasant bubble and squeak were divine, and that rhubarb crumble, double portion please! I can't recommend enough, this small start up restaurant will go far. Can't wait for the second visit! Thanks guys 

Samantha H
Tastemaker

Oh I so wanted to love Native.  I read incredible reviews and thought the concept was great.  However even though we booked a month in advance (on email) we arrived at the restaurant on a busy Friday night to find it closed! Apparently they had no hot water for 3 days but hadnt felt it was necessary to contact customers who had booked in to inform them of this.  If it was a massive restaurant with 100s of covers I could almost understand.....it isnt!  Contacted them on twitter, barely got an apology.  Unlikely to book in again. 

Stellaville
0 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

I initially chose this restaurant to treat a family member for their birthday and liked the fact that the menu looked a bit more creative than your average restaurant e.g. chains in London. Although the restaurant is a little cramped (probably can only seat about 20 max we went on the early side before it was likely to get busier. To eat I had the Venison Rack, Spiced Cabbage & Pommes Boulangeire. 

The price was about average for London (1-2 courses with a glass of wine for about £27-30 pp) and the ambience was nice-not sure if it’s enough to make me go back but did the job for the night.