After missing out on their first week of opening, we eventually booked ourselves in for lunch, excited and hungry to try out this little gem that just turned a month old this weekend.
Native is the brainchild of Ivan and Imogen, which since 2012 has gone through the journey of street food markets and pop up restaurant scenes before they finally settle in this permanent site.
Tucked away in a quiet corner in the tranquil haven of Neal’s Yard, it looks quite inconspicuous from the outside, but fear not, as the hidden spiral staircase leads downstairs to a charming space that feels a bit like dining in the woodlands. The interior is quite minimalistic, with white walls, rustic, wooden furniture and features, and plenty of vibrant flowers to add a touch of colour.
We both ordered their cocktail of the day, which was the Rhubarb & Rosemary Bellini – a bubbly, fruity, and (almost) innocent afternoon tipple to start the day.
The menu consisted of a selection of small starters and larger sharing plates. We ordered a couple of the smaller dishes to start with. The first was the rabbit pastilla which had a nice, flaky pastry that encased the meat within, which although slightly on the dry side, was still flavourful and tasty. Underneath it were some thin ribbons of pickled carrots and yoghurt.
One of our favourites was the pigeon kebab, which was earthy and had a strong flavour of spices, served on a flatbread with beet hummus, pickled cabbage and harissa.
We ordered all three of the larger sharing plates. The slow roast cauliflower with brown butter and wild garlic was delicious and another one of my favourites, and I would have happily eaten another whole portion of this. The pan fried hake was succulent and flaky, served on a bed of lentil dahl. I’m not really much of a lentil lover, but I really liked the crispy cauliflower leaf pakora – did I mention how much I love cauliflower?
The baked golden beets were cooked through properly and was simple and tasty with a side of goats curd and pennywort.
We were also presented with a wooden platter of foraged ingredients to sample that were utilized in the different dishes.
There was only one dessert on the menu, which saved us from having to make a decision. It consisted of rhubarb and rosemary, meadowsweet custard and pieces of coriander honeycomb. It was a bit on the watery side in terms of consistency, but nonetheless the flavours were still nice. We finished off with a bite of caramelised honey truffle each, which was rich and indulgent.
We pretty much tried out most of the menu, apart from the three other smaller dishes, which I thought overall was a satisfying and balanced meal, with a few favourites that I would definitely recommend.
Unfortunately there wasn’t any venison on the menu when we visited which I had my eye on beforehand…I guess that just means that I’ll have to make another visit back soon (!)
The cooking is simple yet exciting enough to tantalize the senses – one to add on to the recommended list.
The Cheekster, signing out x