This is the second in a series of columns profiling local chefs and restaurants.
In the almost-year since Nourish opened, it has strived to be environmentally conscious and use locally-sourced products its dishes. The restaurant also aims to appeal to all eaters – from those who show up for the tofu and daily greens, to the diner who wants a burger or plate of ribs.
Owners Karen and Kevin Masterson, whose previous endeavors include Tennessee's BBQ and Big Fresh Cafe in Framingham, envisioned Nourish as a place where varying appetites can be satiated, while providing an appealing and community-oriented environment.
"I think it's important to be very welcoming to all eaters," Karen Masterson said. "I defy anyone to come in and not find something they like."
The Mastersons, with kitchen manager Tony Entzminger, waited Thursday and Friday for deliveries of local and organic lettuce, summer squash, zucchini, green cabbage, onions, beets, swiss chard, kale, parsley and rhubarb.
Masterson, who is on the board of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston, gets organic flour and dry goods from a family-run distributor, purchases tempeh and tofu in Jamaica Plain and buys beef from a farmer Brimfield, to name a few.
While the menu at Nourish doesn't change, the ingredients in the offerings do, depending on what's in season. All dishes use a combination of conventional ingredients, and those that are local or organic, depending on the time of year and what comes from local producers.
The white cake – a family recipe – was dressed in a strawberry sauce and whipped cream earlier in the summer, which has given way to raspberries and a chocolate sauce as the season progresses.
For Masterson, providing fresh and local food while being a mid-priced restaurant was important, she said. There is a range of appetizers, like phyllo rolls and jumbo chicken wings, topping out at $8, and numerous salads, all under $12.
Dinner options range from wraps and burgers for $10 to $12, while entrees like baked dill salmon, tempeh or a taboule chicken plate are priced from $13 to $16.
Barbecue, stir-fry and pizzas are also popular, as are the sides, like cornbread, steamed greens and seaweed salad. The kids' menu also surpasses typical fare by offering selections like a chicken breast or hummus plate.
How do they does Nourish meld it's desire to serve locally-sourced food that's also afforable?
"It's a lot of work," Masterson said. "We juggle. As passionate as I am about (local and organic food), food is about community, and energizing each other's company."
That is why Nourish is adorned with work by artists in the region, Masterson said. She sees the restaurant's walls as those of a gallery, and through two juried shows featuring 10 to 12 artists, free space is offered to artists twice yearly. Currently, Nourish is seeking submissions by Aug. 15 for its fall show, with work ranging from watercolor, pastels, charcoal, oils and more.
"It's nice to give space to such a diverse group of artists," Masterson said. "In this area there is a lot of talent. And so many times, people love to see nice art, but don't have a lot of time to visit galleries."
Nourish has also gotten into the live-music scene, and moving into the fall will have jazz and swing musicians on Thursdays, folk and acoustic artists on Fridays and a combination of genres and vocalists on Saturday nights.
The restaurant also holds food-oriented events – like a fisherman's dinner in April where a Gloucester fisherman came to speak about the challenges in the industry.
Nourish also held an organic Vodka dinner with a producer from Hadley, and on July 20 will host an organic beer dinner, with a four-course meal paired with beers from Peak Brewing, with the owner on hand to speak.
July 23 is the restaurant's one-year anniversary, and Masterson said it's been a good year, despite opening during a tough economic period.
"We opened a restaurant with a new concept, of what we considered healthy, yet people come in and realize they can also get a cheeseburger and fries," she said. "We get people on dates, who came after playing sports, or who come after church – others come off the bike trail. I love that everybody feels welcome."
Nourish is located at 1725 Massachusetts Ave., and is open Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., with brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More information is available at www.nourishlexington.com.