Native founders Ivan Tisdall-Downes and Imogen Davis have been pushing foraged, wild ingredients since before sustainable food became cool – back when paying for dishes made with unwanted scraps was a slightly crunchy, hippy idea. Then came Blue Planet II, in which velvet-voiced David Attenborough showed us that we were slowly but surely destroying the planet. In the year or two that have followed, we’ve become obsessed with recycling and living plastic-free, with the environmental dangers imposed by food production at the forefront of many conversations. In the midst of this sweeping societal change, Tisdall-Downes and Davis closed their pocket-sized Neal’s Yard restaurant (with room for just more than 20 people and a totally open kitchen) and travelled south of the river to a bigger, airier Borough Market restaurant, with pretty Portuguese joint Casa do Frango upstairs. While the original Native was cute, this is a grown-up, slick reimagining of its ethos: reclaimed parquet flooring; revamped chairs taken from an old Costa; benches made from the previous space’s food-storage bins; off-white shiplap walls; and twig-like birch trees dotted throughout.
The menus change based on what’s available and seasonal, but always make use of the best British ingredients. The kitchen now has enough space to bring in a whole animal and break it down, ensuring every last bit is used in some way (starters are made with offcuts from the mains). Snack on a crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside fermented-potato waffle with creamy duck-liver parfait and sour pickled apple, or house-baked focaccia with wild garlic oil. To start, put aside any preconceptions and order the wood pigeon kebab – the soft, thin slices of meat are juicy, earthy and locally sourced. For those opting for a safer choice, the Isle of Wight tomatoes are served with zingy salsa verde and hunks of yesterday’s focaccia. Mains include Yorkshire duck served with sweet garden peas, umami sea vegetables, and roasted broccoli stalk topped with British blue cheese and a pullet egg (the younger hen’s eggs don’t make it to the shelves of mainstream supermarkets due to their smaller size). The puddings are perhaps the most unusual dishes on the menu; we tried a creamy cauliflower cheesecake that was very savoury and an apple tart made with fermented fruit and house-made caramel.
Davis, who can often be found front of house, is sure to recommend the British wines from Native’s extensive list: try a dry and pale Gloucestershire rosé that tastes like summer fruits, or a fruity, spiced Worcestershire pinot noir. There’s also beer from Southwark Brewing Company just up the road and a curated cocktail list: we particularly enjoyed the Native x Batch 2 Negroni, made using East London Liquor Company Premium Gin Batch No 2, Campari and the restaurant’s own Forager’s Vermouth.
Sustainable eating may have gone mainstream, but Native hasn’t sold out – its delicious, quirky plates are bringing us ever closer to being zero-waste without compromising on taste. By Sarah James
Address: Native, 32 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TU
Telephone: +44 7507 861 570
The latest addition to Borough Market’s Stoney Street front row (El Pastor, Elliot’s, Wright Brothers) is London’s favourite Taiwanese bun shop. There’s a Suntory whisky and soda machine (only the second in the UK), which is used for the fruity Bao Hi cocktails. Strawberries and blood oranges – sourced from the market, of course – go particularly well with sake and Fallen Pony in the Wow-hi. There’s also a chicken-nugget bao served with spicy sriracha mayo and a deep-fried, lobster-roll-like version with prawns – both winning additions to the Borough-only menu. We also loved the cold-smoked aubergine, which comes with a panko-crusted bao for scooping. Downstairs, find Bao KTV, the brand’s first karaoke room – a great spot to host the next party. By Tabitha Joyce
Address: Bao Borough, 13 Stoney Street, Borough Market, London SE1 9AD
Price: Bao buns from £5
By the main arch into Borough Market, this hand-made-pasta restaurant by the crew who run dreamy Trullo in Highbury does a delizioso tagliarini with brown shrimp, courgettes and chilli, as well as Trullo classic papardelle with eight-hour Dexter-beef-shin ragu. A crowd favourite, Padella is one of the best Italian restaurants in London.
Address: Padella Pasta, 6 Southwark Street, Borough Market, London
This intimate little Mexican taqueria right next to the market was opened by the boys behind Barrafina and Quo Vadis. Come here for the memorably scrumptious tacos with chargrilled stone bass, caramelised onions and La Maya salsa, best enjoyed over a caraf of mezcal.
This glossy new restaurant-wine-bar works both as somewhere to pop into for a chilled glass of white and some smoked salmon pâté or for a more serious plate of sausages braised in red wine and porcini, with sage breadcrumbs.
Address: Arthur Hopper’s, 8 Stoney Street, London Bridge, London
Telephone: +44 20 7940 0169
There’s a modern-canteen feel to this restaurant, which bases its menus on what’s in the market that day. Food is cooked on a wood-fired grill, which makes for mighty flavoursome cheese burgers and delicious Barnsley chops.
Address: Elliot’s Café, 12 Stoney Street, Borough Market, London
Telephone: +44 20 7403 7436
Entirely staffed by Spaniards, this is the best place to start the day, in this case, with the Brindisa Breakfast: jamón, chorizo, black pudding, salty fried eggs and the most outrageous chips.
Address: Brindisa, 18-20 Southwark Street, London Bridge, London
Telephone: +44 20 7357 8880
ARABICA BAR AND KITCHEN
Order the Bosphorus Fisherman’s Breakfast at this under-the-arches Middle Eastern restaurant. But if grilled kipper with spice butter and poached rookery farm egg sounds a tad intense, there’s always buttered sourdough with fig, sesame jam and tahini.
BURNT LEMON BAKERY
On the edge of Flat Iron Square, a new little food hub about a seven-minute walk from Borough Market, this London bakery is already known for its sourdough but I’d go just for its cinnamon buns with maple and orange.
Address: Burnt Lemon Bakery, 64 Union Street, Borough Market, London
Telephone: +44 20 3179 9800
MARIA’S MARKET CAFÉ
Maria Moruzzi serves the best full English breakfasts to stall holders and visitors alike at her café in the middle of the market’s Three Crown Square. But anything with bubble will do.
Address: Maria’s Market Café, The Market Porter, 9 Stoney Street, Borough Market, London
Whole animals and fish are butchered on site every day at this restaurant one floor above the market, which serves a modern take on classic British cooking. As the name suggests it’s one of the best places in London for a Sunday roast, so don’t shy away from classics, including roast suckling pig with mash and Bramley-apple sauce, because it does them brilliantly.
Address: Roast, The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, Borough Market, London
Telephone: +44 20 3006 6111
Another Flat Iron Square resident, seasonal restaurant Lupins offers an exquisite selection of small plates, from Cornish crab thermidor to polenta-crusted anchovies with wild garlic, at a little dining counter or proper tables upstairs.
Address: Lupins, 66 Union Street, Borough Market, London
Telephone: +44 20 3908 5888
Hawksmoor has finally brought some of London’s best steaks and cocktails – plus exceptionally nice, well-informed staff – to a warehousey space around the back of the market. And it’s all delicious. Everything.
Address: Hawksmoor Borough, 16 Winchester Walk, London Bridge, London
Telephone: +44 20 7234 9940
THE BEST PUBS AND BARS IN BOROUGH
Knock back Sussex bubbly and great fat briny oysters at the bar of this renowned seafood restaurant. A great start to any night. Or morning, frankly.
Address: Wright Brothers, 11 Stoney Street, Borough Market, London
Telephone: +44 20 7403 9554
THE MARKET PORTER
This traditional ale house, which opens at 6am to actually feed market porters, has 12 real ales and four ciders on tap, plus decent pub food such as steak-and-ale pie, which you can eat amid the ground-floor hustle bustle or upstairs in the sweet little dining room.
Address: The Market Porter, 9 Stoney Street, London Bridge, London
Telephone: +44 20 7407 2495
The historic London pub closed for four years while its top floor was removed to make way for the Thameslink Viaduct. It was then revamped by new owners and now has a small covered yard with a street-food (camper)van. Try the venison bun with Oxford blue cheese.
Address: The Wheatsheaf, 6 Stoney Street, London Bridge, London
Telephone: +44 20 7940 3880
While this brand-new basement bar with an ethical, zero-waste-ingredients policy strays into Bermondsey Street territory, there is no other neighbourhood cocktail joint like it in the Borough area. Order the Moby Dick, made from coconut-oil-washed whiskey with a salted caramel syrup.
This tiny tucked-away place has a constantly changing selection of draft and bottled beers from around the world and friendly staff to tell you all about them. It’s even got a little beer garden to match.
Address: The Rake, 14a Winchester Walk, Borough Market, London
Telephone: +44 20 7407 0557
THE ROYAL OAK
Five minutes off the main drag towards Bermondsey’s popular restaurant scene, this is a proper old Victorian corner pub which has somehow, gloriously, not changed for years. It’s owned by Sussex brewery Harvey’s: order a cask mild real ale.
Address: The Royal Oak, 44 Tabard Street, Borough Market, London
Telephone: +44 20 7357 7173
THE LORD CLYDE
There’s a wonderfully retro feeling to The Lord Clyde, an Edwardian pub that’s been run by the same family for more than 50 years. Be sure to try a homemade Scotch egg with piccalilli.
Address: The Lord Clyde, 27 Clennam Street, Borough, London
Telephone: +44 20 7407 3397
A place people who actually live in Borough go to for Sunday lunch. It’s friendly, well-run and just off the tourist trail, a three-minute walk from Borough Tube.
Address: The Roebuck, 50 Great Dover Street, Borough, London
Telephone: +44 20 7357 7324
Built into the side of the market, this candlelit enoteca-style wine bar and shop is the perfect spot to escape to on a hot summer night for a glass of wine (interesting, unheard-of labels from lesser-known regions as well as the classics) and a market-sourced charcuterie plate.
Address: Bedales, 5 Bedale Street, Borough Market, London
Telephone: +44 20 7403 8853
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