REVIEW: Naive keeps their menu interesting with healthier takes on classic food & cocktails

After perusing a few magazines and food blogs in regard to newer restaurants in Louisville, my wife and I decided to visit Naive for a lunch date on a warm, sunny Tuesday. Located in the middle of historic Butchertown (not far from NuLu), Naive was pretty easy to hunt down at 1001 E Washington Street. I walked in and noticed a collection of decorative lamps hanging from the ceiling, beneath them two counters; one to the right with a variety of concessions like bottled kombucha and juices; the counter to the left of the entrance was surrounded by a full bar and a few taps. Naturally, I drifted that way as I was more than ready to start enjoying my day off with a stiff drink.

It turns out that this is the counter where you order from; we quickly realized that Naive is a fast casual restaurant where you look at a menu, tell someone what you want, then take a number and find a table. We walked up to the counter, considered a few options, then placed our order. The table we chose was near the door in front of a large glass window, the perfect spot for a day full of gorgeous, natural light. It didn’t take long before our drinks and food were swiftly delivered by someone from their friendly staff.

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We started with their seasonal margarita, which ended up being an unusually delicious take on a classic summer cocktail (see above). Comprised of Frida Khalo tequila, honey syrup, lemon juice and triple sec, the star ingredient was most definitely the beet juice. Each sip, which was accented by a glass rim dipped into a minty sugar was delightfully refreshing. Seriously, as someone that doesn’t often gravitate toward “mixed drinks,” I enjoyed the hell out of this concoction.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when we ordered the tater tots, which over the last few years has become quite a trendy menu item, one that is usually covered in some sort of cheese and cured meat combo. But not these tots, oh no (see above). We were served three fairly large balls of fried potatoes that had a delicate, crispy exterior surrounding a fragile, almost doughy mass. My only complaint was that there weren’t more, because damn, these tater tots might be the best in Louisville.

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Like a lot of people lately, I’ve been crushing more and more foods that substitute cauliflower for meat. I’ve eaten cauliflower tacos, cauliflower Buffalo wings, and cauliflower spaghetti, and I’ve enjoyed the hell out of every last bite. But Cauliflower General Tso’s Chicken? Nothing was going to stop me from checking this out (see above). The lightly breaded florets had a crisp edge and were topped with a light, flavorful sauce with a tangy edge, all of which rested on top of a bunch of zesty green beans and kale adding a nice crunch.

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Finally, we moved on to the Farmer’s Bowl, which was made up of ancient grains and turmeric roasted chicken and fresh spring veggies topped with pesto, collagen broth, and local ricotta (see above). It’s hard to choose which component of this dish I enjoyed the most, as each ingredient really stood out on its own as a show-stopping attraction. The chicken was flavorful and tender, the veggies were as fresh as could be, and the grains were the perfect foundation.

We left comfortably full, but not stuffed, even though we cleaned all of our plates and bowls. All the food we put into our faces sat well in our stomachs, which to me is a testament to how remarkably fresh Naive’s ingredients truly are. As we drove home we talked about our next visit, almost arguing over what we would try next. That doesn’t happen often with us, we normally are already moving on to our next plunge into Louisville’s culinary community. These folks have such an interesting menu that it’ll be easy to frequent their place, and considering their offerings change on a seasonal basis, I don’t see why we’d ever stop coming back.