Restaurant Review: Native

Charlotte Ellis checks out some very Instagram-worthy dishes in the heart of Covent Garden…

Nestled in the far corner of London’s Neal’s Yard is Native. Food-child of ex-River Cottagers ‘Imogen and Ivan’, the concept is simple and bang on foodie fad – bringing the UK’s wild and foraged ingredients to the table with some delicious little twists and fine flourishes.

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Excited by the concept I was expecting tails, sweetbreads and nettles – but the menu is pretty safe. Like the food, the setting is rustic and comforting. A cute shop front and ground floor space that reveals the buzzy little kitchen so you can watch proceedings. There’s a small elevated bar table where three of you can eat and watch the chefs hard at work, or pester them while they plate up the very Instagram-worthy dishes.

Below deck the main restaurant is miniscule, but charming – all white washed, simple wooden tables, low lighting, carafs of angels breath, a string of fairy light; it feels like you’re at a friends place for dinner – the friend whose a dab hand with a Hispi cabbage and an open fire.

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The wine list is in keeping with the space – compact, but fun – with some good local wines, ciders and spirit options. A very good bread board with seemed to vanish in a flash. I started with wild mushrooms, Jerusalem artichoke puree and 63 degree egg (when your egg is slow-cooked, sous vide-style, at 63 degrees for an hour). Delicious. Anything with a runny egg is a warm hug, especially when served with dinky flavour-packed, wild mushrooms. My dinner date chose ham hock croquettes that were generous – nearly all rich, sweet, flaked ham. A meal in themselves.

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I followed with baked Kobocha squash, served with goats curd, cauliflower bhaji, wild garlic splashes and a sprinkling of black onion seed; which turned up like a beautiful little work of art – although the serving was plentiful. Whilst my companion chose South Downs venison, wild mushrooms, black Pudding ‘Stovie’ and sprout tops. The meat was cooked to melt in your mouth perfection.

We shared a generous miso infused, charred Hispi cabbage and a side of potatoes and finished with an unassembled chocolate brownie cake with berries, a good choice with the Tuscan red wine we’d chosen. We rolled back onto the busy street feeling well fed and impressed with some excellent cooking.

Price: Three courses with sides and wine, around £85 for two.
Where to find it: Native, 3 Neal’s Yard, London WC2HE. Find out more here.

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