The buzz is building around a plant-based restaurant in, of all places, Butchertown. Naïve’s farm-to-table menu and sustainability-first ethos is winning over vegans and carnivores alike.

By Nancy Miller • Photos by Danny Alexander

Catherine MacDowell and husband Michael Kerrigan found so many things to like about Louisville that they made the life-changing decision to move from Washington, D.C. to Louisville.  She had built out restaurant concepts for famed chef and restaurateur José Andrés and Michael was a successful engineer.

“When we met eight years ago, we had a strong passion for sustainability and farm-to-table food. Due to the tobacco buyouts, Louisville has a lot of local microfarmers that other neighboring big cities don’t have. That led us to believe the city was a perfect place for Naive,” says MacDowell.

The Butchertown restaurant, opened in April, features a plant-based menu with meat options. The interior’s fresh, urbane coziness reflects a design-forward, innovative use of sustainable building materials.

“We call ourselves vegetable centric to put forth the local farmers and to have them on the front lines. We see that as the most direct way to impact our community,” she says. Chef M. Alan Henry, a graduate of the Culinary Institute in New York, trained under Michelin star chefs before he began creating Naive’s menu that is devoid of any meat-based sauces. Meat is an accoutrement, like garnish on a plate. MacDowell says the menu is designed to appeal to omnivores, carnivores, vegans, vegetarians, followers of the Paleo diet and individuals who opt for gluten or dairy-free dishes.

“We don’t cook with any butter or cream, but instead infuse other flavors and highlight local produce. We use New Age techniques as we bring together Chef Henry’s French background with my playful side,” says MacDowell.

Highlights of the menu are ceviche, Spanish garlic shrimp, curry bowl, crispy kimchi fried rice and spring pea Alfredo. A Small Plate of sweet corn arepas (slow-braised lion’s mane and oyster mushrooms, fermented black beans, cotija, pineapple slaw and avocado crema) is as intriguing as the Hippie Circle (carrots three ways, ricotta, dor-bee-tos, lavender-lemon yogurt, quinoa, feta and candied pecans.)

Bar Manager Nicole Stipp’s kicked up cocktail menu entices with a Sexy Elvis: “We washed bourbon with peanut butter and now you have a boozy pb&j sandwich in a glass.” Sounds crazy enough to be crazy good, no? Healthy kombucha was made jazzy in the Kombucha Drank – gin, honey syrup and lavender lemonade kombucha.

Welcome to Louisville, Naive. We love you already. 


1001 E. Washington St


Posted on 2018-07-07 by Nancy Miller