Louisville Kentucky has a number of restaurants that are dedicated to sustainability and natural fresh ingredients, which they integrate into their dishes locally. In other words – from local farmers within a 100 or so mile radius.
I had an opportunity to eat at a handful of them during a recent trip to Louisville, a city that is has magical charm and blends the best of America’s Midwest with the South.
Mayan Café, an indigenously-inspired farm-to-table restaurant is one worth calling out. The Mayan culture, one known for rich cooking traditions, still lives on through their chef, Bruce Ucán, a Mayan Indian from Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Ucán fuses traditional Mayan flavors, ingredients & cooking techniques with local, sustainably-farmed ingredients.
On sustainability in their words, “the concept of sustainability is at the core of what we do and how we do it. We source our meat exclusively from local farms and use as much sustainably-farmed local produce & cheese as is seasonally available. We believe in what our farmers are doing and also believe that incorporating those products into our dishes makes better food.”
They’re located in the East Market Gallery District, or “NuLu” as the locals have fondly termed their neighborhood. This is an area that increasingly becoming trendy and hip therefore is loaded with not just fabulous restaurants for foodies to partake, but boutiques, jewelry and housewares stores and galleries with glass-blowing artists who “perform” in front of your eyes.
Some of their local farm partners include:
Ashbourne Farm: (grass fed beef & pastured pork)
Breaking New Grounds: (sustainably-grown greens & herbs)
Capriole Farmstead Goat Cheese: (goat cheese)
Dreamcatchers Farm: (grass fed beef)
Duncan Farm: (free-range eggs & grass-fed rabbit)
Fiedler Family Farm: (pastured pork)
Field Day Family Farm: (produce)
Finger Picking Farms: (produce)
Foxhollow Farm: (grass-fed beef & produce)
Grateful Greens: (hydroponic greens & herbs)
Groce Family Farm: (sustainably-farmed fruits, vegetables & eggs)
Hart County Produce: (produce)
Heritage Harvest: (produce)
Horseshoe Bend Exotic Mushrooms: (mushrooms)
Jackson’s Produce: (produce)
Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese: (hard cheeses)
Ragan Farm: (produce)
Red Hot Roasters: (organic, small-batch coffee)
Schacht Farm: (free-range turkey & chicken, pastured pork)
Stone Cross Farm: (grass-fed beef, pastured pork)
I tested the restaurant out for lunch, not dinner, although ordered a number of dishes including a sample of several appetizers to get a sense of their sauces, presentation and ingredients.
My favorite picks? In this order: the seafood ceviche with blood orange sauce, pico de gallo and avocado, a locally known favorite, their oven-roasted pork with mocha mole sauce and fried plantains and a side of Tok-sel Lima Beans. YUM!!
Okay, so we ate up a storm? What’s a girl to do on her last day in Louisville but take in a long lunch with fabulous dishes that are farm-to-table, organic, fresh and delicious? The ceviche in all its glory:
Below the pork with mole sauce:
Their classic lima beans which is a must try regardless of what you ordered — lunch or dinner:
A couple of sides:
We give Mayan Cafe a thumbs up for both food and service. (we also sampled a bourbon-infused beer which went very well with all the dishes we sampled).
Harvest Restaurant in Louisville also known as Harvest Louisville was started by well known farmer Ivor Chodkowski, the man who helped put the farm in Louisville’s farm-to-table movement. I met him at the Churchill Downs, the same Downs that house the Kentucky Derby every year. They were participating in an annual event that is part of Idea Festival called Taste of Innovation. He started this venture with partner, Peter Kuhl, originally with farm-fresh omelets at the Bardstown Road Farmer’s Market only. Later, Harvest was born.
It was with a sense of mission to grow the movement that Ivor, Peter, his brother Patrick, and Jim McArthur gathered not just an extraordinarily team, but also a group of passionate and community-minded investors. Below is spicy shrimp dish that they served at Taste of Innovation, a scrumptious delight.
An organic farmer since 1997, Chodkowski also operates the eight-acre Field Day Family Farm on the Bullitt property and facilitated Grasshopper Distribution, whose aim is to connect a portion of the 82,000 small farmers in Kentucky with a variety of steady customers, including fine dining establishments.
Chef Coby Lee Ming’s inspired cuisine takes seasonality into consideration, so that you will never get a hard red-colored tomato or an asparagus in October. Their mission is that as a customer, you will expect instead an extraordinary casual fine-dining experience with foods from local farms delivered at their peak of freshness and prepared and served at the summit of delicious. And there’s no question that the team is passionate about what they create.
Some sample dish choices include rapini caldo verde with grilled blue dog crouton, crispy dumpling, red stem spinach, roasted garlic mornay and garlic chips, Greens with house cured bacon, scallions, warm sherry vinaigrette and poached local egg, arugula salad, savory granola, cider vinaigrette and norwood cheese, ravioli, smoked goat cheese, roasted mushroom broth, garlic crouton and rapini pesto, buttermilk fried chicken, arugula biscuit hoecake with smoked peppercorn gravy, ricotta-herb gnocchi served with bolognese, grilled harvest steak, braised greens, whole grain dijon bourbon jus and crispy onions, smoked pork shoulder, rapini, potato cakes with a garlic-sage jus, and lastly a roasted vegetable pot pie, smoked black pepper-mushroom jus, served with an herb salad.
Are you hungry yet? And remember, both restaurants subscribe to farm-to-table philosophy and serve organic, fresh ingredients to die for.
Below are some shots taken inside the restaurant: