Burnt-apple béarnaise, pumpkin ketchup and three-cornered garlic: if the accompaniments are this good, it bodes well for the main event.
Native’s thing is natural, seasonal and foraged British produce; it aims to bring the country’s best wild food to the table in an informal and flavourful way. At the helm are Ivan Tisdall-Downes and Imogen Davis, who did their time (as many young restaurateurs now do) as a pop-up restaurant and street-food stall before setting up a sturdier camp in the tranquil setting of Neal’s Yard. River Cottage-trained chef Tisdall-Downes mans the kitchen, while Davis – who used to run her family falconry business in rural Northamptonshire – is an ever-smiling front of house.
Lunch and dinner menus are short, with three starters, three mains and three puddings (a godsend for the indecisive); two courses will set you back £28 and three courses £35. Torched Dorset mackerel is accompanied by salt-baked beets, tangy rhubarb, hay cream and crunchy oats; slow-roast cauliflower is muddled with Isle of Mull cheddar, braised onions and crumbly ricotta; and rhubarb-and-rosemary compote comes with a dollop of meadowsweet Cream and coriander honeycomb. There’s also a short wine list, a couple of simple but lip-smacking cocktails and a handful of herb and fruit-infused cordials.
All of the above is served in a whitewashed interior that’s brought to life with sprigs of greenery on the walls and fresh flowers on the rustic wooden tables. The majority of the latter are downstairs but if you can, grab a seat at the counter of the open kitchen in the tiny groundfloor space and enjoy the wild and wonderful culinary show.
Native, 3 Neal’s Yard, London, WC2H 9DP.