I have written quite extensively about game – it is a meat that I grew up with, and one I have to say I didn’t always completely enjoy, as no doubt those cooking it for me perhaps lacked the skills of top London chefs! It’s certainly an exciting time for game meat as chefs across the capital are embracing it and including it widely on their menus; I’ve been to several restaurants celebrating the game season, as well as a game themed supper club by the wonderful Cat Ashton, and have to say that when put in the hands of professionals this meat truly sings.
Native, which has just opened in Neal’s Yard, is probably the first restaurant of its kind. It specialises in a menu focused solely around game, wild food, and rare breeds – all, of course, native to Britain. It’s taking the theme of sustainability and local sourcing to the next level, showcasing some of the most underappreciated and overlooked meats, vegetables, and fish found on our beloved little island.
Founded by Imogen Davis and Chef Ivan Tisdall-Downes, two university friends who ran a series of supper clubs before launching Native. Imogen grew up in the Northamptonshire countryside and developed a fascination with skinning, plucking, and foraging for wild food. While Ivan is a self-taught chef with a passion for sustainability who honed his skills at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage HQ.
The menus are all about nose to tail and leaf to root eating, and include dishes such as Raw Sussex Venison, Treacle Cured Pheasant Egg, Hayonaise, and Confit Trout, Wood Ear Speltotto, Bone Marrow.
The restaurant is intimate at only thirty covers, with upstairs counter seating based around an open plan kitchen and downstairs hosting additional seating on – of course – handcrafted wooden tables and chairs.
Native is going to be one of the best ways to explore England, from the heart of it’s capital.