Latest opening: Native

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Ivan Tisdall-Downes and Imogen Davis have relaunched their sustainable restaurant Native on the former Pensons site

Related tags Native Imogen Davis Ivan Tisdall-Downes Restaurant Fine dining Chef Pensons Sustainability regenerative farming zero waste

Ivan Tisdall-Downes and Imogen Davis have relocated their restaurant concept Native from London to Worcestershire.

What: ​A new era for sustainably-focused restaurant concept Native, which has taken over the site on the Netherwood Estate on the Worcestershire/Herefordshire border that was previously occupied by Pensons, the Michelin-starred restaurant that closed late last year as a result of ‘relentless inflationary pressures’.

Who: ​Native was founded by university friends Ivan Tisdall-Downes and Imogen Davis, who continue to lead the business – Tisdall-Downes as executive chef and Davis as business director. The pair launched a street food stall in London’s Covent Garden in 2016 with a menu that included pigeon kebab and squirrel lasagne and went on to operate restaurants in Borough Market and Brown’s in Mayfair, as well as briefly at Osea Island in Essex. The decision to relocate Native to a far more rural setting reflects the pair’s  ambition to evolve the business. “When we started Native it was supposed to be casual, but the ingredients and customer expectations formed it into a more fine dining style over time,” explains Tisdall-Downes, whose CV includes stints at River Cottage in Devon and Blue Hill Farm in New York. “We always had a dream of having a farm-to-table restaurant out in the sticks, and going up to Pensons has allowed us to realise that.” Alex Lewis, formerly of Oxeye, has been brought in as head chef, with industry veteran John Lacombe overseeing the day-to-day operations as general manager. The Native brand was recently bought by investment vehicle Hestia Hospitality, which is led by Andrew Fishwick.

The food: ​Similarly to Native’s short-lived restaurant on Osea Island, this is a tasting menu-only affair with diners able to choose between a shorter four-course option (£65) or a full seven-course offer (£105). The team forages on the estate and works with local suppliers and dishes will change constantly, sometimes twice daily, depending on the ingredients available. “We’re letting the land dictate the menu,” says Tisdall-Downes. “We have a wish list of ingredients, but they may not grow or arrive so it’s all about being able to react to that.” Dishes on the sample menu include a ‘regeneration risotto’ with heritage grains, cover crops and Lincolnshire poacher; Herdwick lamb with Wye Valley asparagus and black garlic; and blackcurrant leaf, bee pollen and chamomile madeleines. On Sundays the restaurant offers a weekly-changing nose to tail roast menu (three courses for £45) with options including white park Hereford beef with Tuscan kale, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, baked carrots and cauliflower cheese.

©William Tisdall-Downes

To drink: ​The restaurant offers a list of organic, biodynamic, natural and low-intervention wines available as part of a pairing, and by the glass or bottle. There’s also a selection of ‘signature’ cocktails inspired by the kitchen garden including a Native negroni; and a meadowsweet sour. Beer from London’s Two Tribes Brewery features alongside some kombuchas and foraged teas that’s also part of a soft drinks pairing to accompany the menu.

The vibe: ​Much about the restaurant’s look and design remains unchanged from Pensons. The interiors are rustic and stripped back, with the dining room holding 32 covers (there’s a 14-seat private dining room on the upper level). The restaurant also has two bedrooms in an adjacent building for overnight guests, and Tisdall-Downes says this is something he hopes to develop once the restaurant has found its feet. “The more accommodation we have, the more accessible the restaurant is to those travelling to see us,” he says. “If we can get to seven bedrooms that’s enough for half of the restaurant’s covers, so it’s certainly a key focus for us in the year ahead.”


And another thing:​ With the move the countryside, Tisdall-Downes and Davis are looking to further develop their green practices by ensuring all ingredients come from regenerative sources. “It’s about regaining and giving back more than we take,” explains Tisdall-Downes. “How we compost and put those nutrients back in the soil is a big focus for us at the moment when we look at suppliers to work with and the ingredients we use. At the moment soil health is challenged, and if it carries on, we may not be able to grow anything in 50 years’ time.”

Pensons Farm, Tenbury Wells WR15 8RT

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