Who doesn’t like eating locally grown food? It’s fresh, it’s healthy, it’s more or less off the industrial agri-business grid, and maybe best of all, it tastes really, really good.
Dining “locavore” is trendy, too, if being in on the hippest big thing is important to you.
But allow me to suggest that there’s something more important: Dining locally supports your local farmer. It gives you the opportunity to meet the people who grow your food face-to-face, to talk to them, to learn more about what they grow that feeds you. Says the Harvest website, “The food is … a celebration of seasonality, so that you will never get a hard red-colored tomato or an asparagus in October,”
You’ll also learn that farm produce is strictly seasonal. Like our grandparants and their forbears, once you embrace the local lifestyle, you’ll eat lettuce and spinach in the spring, peaches from June through August; tomatoes from July into early autumn; potatoes and root vegetables through the winter. Shun food that travel miles to reach your larder and you’ll find the calendar shapes your diet plan in ways you never imagined. But by eating in season you’ll also be treating yourself to the splendor of perfectly fresh fare that didn’t have to be doused in chemicals, bred for transportation and not for taste, or artificially ripened after weeks in transit.
This, indeed, is the model behind Louisville’s growing cadre of farm-to-table restaurants. And while many of them are fine, I’d argue that there’s none better than Harvest in NuLu, now the culinary home of farmer Ivor Chodkowski, whose Jefferson County farm, Family Field Days Farm, has long been one of the most popular spots at the Bardstown Road Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings.
Chodkowski has long been a local locavore leader. In addition to the farm, he’s active in Community Farm Alliance, community-supported agriculture, and Grasshoppers Distribution, which connects regional farmers with local restaurants. Last year Chodkowski and a group of backers opened Harvest in hopping Nulu. Harvest bases at least 80 percent of its menu on the output of regional farmers. The attractive, rustic eatery (formerly Mayan Gypsy) celebrates farmers as celebrities, featuring them in poster-size photos and a wall-size map.
Harvest’s short but appetizing dinner menu ranges from $12 (for a burger) to $19 (for buttermilk fried chicken); the weekend brunch is just as delicious and an even better deal. A menu affair, not a buffet, it offers a tasty mashup of regionally grown breakfast and lunch choices, including starters, sandwiches and main courses, with nothing on the menu more than $13 (the toll for an abundant plate of buttermilk waffles with butter, maple syrup and choice of side).
Our party of four reached across the table and shared a lot. “Baked goodness” ($6), a chef’s choice pastry option, took the form of short, rich strawberry scones with maple butter. Couldn’t have been better. A buttermilk biscuit ($12) larger than a hockey puck was light and well crafted, perched on a spicy pool of sawmill gravy kicked up with chorizo. A veggie omelet ($12) and three-cheese grits ($3) were perfect expressions of their genre, and a perfect sunny-side-up egg (free-range, of course) made a stellar center for an appetizing pretzel croissant sandwich ($9). Melon gazpacho ($6) was a delicious variation on a summer standard, and “smashed’ potatoes ($3) raised the ante on the mashed version.
Did I mention that it’s reasonable? The tab tells the toll: We spent $32.86 for a filling brunch for four, plus a $10 tip.
624 E. Market St.