This new eatery is unlike anything that has ever graced the Louisville food scene. Located in the heart of historic Butchertown and just around the corner from NuLu, Naive is a forward-thinking restaurant focused on sustainability, local and organic ingredients and a strong sense of community.
Cofounder Michael Kerrigan and CEO and Creative Director Cat MacDowell moved to Louisville to open this fast-casual restaurant with a heavy emphasis on supporting a health-conscious and eco-conscious lifestyle. The concept offers quick, healthy meals that don’t break the bank in a minimalist, relaxed atmosphere that invites diners to grab and go, linger with friends over a cup of coffee or enjoy an all-natural cocktail during happy hour.
The Food & Menu
Naive will suit the tastebuds of every eater, including vegan, carnivore, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free and every diet in between. It’s a plant-based eatery, with meat options as well as healthy indulgences.
“There’s a lot of demand for dietary flexibility, but there’s not that much out there,” Michael says of Naive’s versatile dietary menu options.
Perhaps the most interesting detail of the menu is the composition of the plate. Unlike traditional restaurants, Naive builds their dishes beginning with plants. “Instead of beginning with the protein as the center of the meal, we start with the vegetables. Then, work our way through the plate with different vegetables and ingredients.”
And there is no shortage of culinary creativity on this plant-forward menu. They serve bar bites, like their superfood nachos with queso, fermented black beans, barbecue mushrooms, cotija, white bean dip, sweet potato salsa and avocado crema; as well as a variety of toasts. In addition to their creative spin on avocado toast, they also have a banana chai creme brûlée toast with vanilla nut spread, bananas, chai almond whip, puffed rice and bourbon peanut dust. Or, try the spring mushroom toast with local ricotta, seasonal vegetables, melted leek vinaigrette and sunflower pesto.
Dine tapas-style and continue your meal with small plates like Spanish garlic shrimp, sweet corn pups, General Tso’s cauliflower or Israeli chickpea tagine, or jump straight to a large plate or bowl. The entrées continue this globally influenced culinary trend with mole poblano relleno, a curry bowl and crispy kimchi fried rice, as well as more traditional dishes like herb-roasted chicken and spring pea Alfredo.
But whether global or traditional, the chefs at this eatery are wildly experimental, creating flavor profiles we are sure you’ve never tasted, a delight to the adventurous epicure. Take their “Hippie Bowl” — carrots cooked three ways with local ricotta, “dor-beet-os,” lavender-lemon yogurt, quinoa, feta and candied pecans. Our minds are blown!
Rooted in Sustainability & the Local Community
On top of all of this deliciousness, Cat and Mike have vowed to remain close to the community, sourcing about 75 percent of the menu locally. Remaining rooted in the local farming community and other local businesses, sourcing healthy, organic local ingredients is of the utmost importance to the integrity of the restaurant.
“Many said we were naive when we first began talking about our goals for this restaurant,” says Michael. So, they embraced their seemingly “naive” outlook in a very tongue-in-cheek fashion, by giving the restaurant that very moniker. “In the restaurant world, the conventional wisdom says that it is very difficult to create an all-organic and sustainable restaurant, but fortunately we haven’t found that to be true.”
Naive has built relationships and partnerships with several local farmers and suppliers. Ashbourne Farms, Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, Foxtail Farm, Weisenberger Mills and Wiltshire Bakery are just a few from a long list of farmers that Naive works alongside.
The Bar: Health-Conscious Cocktails
You probably don’t think of cocktails as health-conscious, per se, but at Naive, they do happy hour a bit differently with all-natural cocktails, wines, beers, spirits and mocktails.
Naive’s seasonal margarita invites a refreshing and all-natural take on the classic cocktail. Made with Frida Kahlo tequila, fresh beet juice, honey syrup, lemon juice and Luxardo triple sec, this margarita adds an earthy, health-forward spin to the typical Mexican-inspired refreshment.
The most impressive cocktail on the menu is, without a doubt, the Sexy Elvis. Comprised of a peanut butter-washed bourbon, cherry and honey syrups, orange bitters and finished with a dollop of blackberry jam, it’s pretty much a PB&J in a glass.
If you aim to keep it simple at the bar, Naive also offers a selection of local canned and draft beers, wines and Kentucky bourbons and spirits.
Expanding Their Eco-Friendly Footprint
Naive’s focus on sustainability extends beyond creating healthy, creative, delicious cuisine. Their lofty ambitions towards eco-conscious living include their goal to throw away only one bag of trash per night. That’s less than the average household!
The restaurant’s waste production is divided into three categories: compost, recycle and waste. Any piece of “garbage” that can be reused or recycled in any way is put to good use. The compost, meaning leftover food scraps, will be used as fertilizer to grow the garden in the backyard. Yes, Naive also plans on growing their own seasonal ingredients.
Naive’s backyard space will also house a bar and patio, with outdoor games like cornhole and horseshoes. Although this area isn’t quite ready, Cat and Michael are looking forward to continuing their expansion.
Naive’s holistic philosophy aims to leave the smallest eco-footprint on the environment; however, as they impressively put their idealistic vision into action at their eatery, they might also inspire a larger, healthier change throughout our community.
Naive is located at 1001 East Washington St., Louisville, KY 40206. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch is served Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, call (502) 749-7856 or visit eatnaive.com.
Thank you to Bluegrass Bebe Photography for these gorgeous images of Naive.
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