Fresh and sustainable is the focus of the chef and restaurateur Adam Burress’ latest venture, Ostra (plural for oyster).
The new restaurant, which opened this week at 1758 Frankfort Ave., is a bit of a departure from Burress’ other three restaurants, Game, Hammerheads and Migo. Game is mostly red meat; Hammerheads is lots of pork and fried foods, and Migo is tacos. Dishes from there are delicious but not necessarily healthy.
The menu at Ostra features dishes including oysters, poke, ceviche and watermelon salad. It does have cooked options as well, like rabbit empanadas, a Nashville hot soft shell crab slider and Spanish paprika fries.
“It’s completely different,” Burress told Insider Louisville. “I don’t like to do the same thing twice anyway.”
Burress said he wanted to focus on creating dishes centered around sustainability, citing statistics he’s read about how much water and feed is needed to produce one pound of beef. Studies on that vary, saying anywhere from 14.6 gallons to more than 1,800 gallons of water is need per pound.
“That is a tremendous amount of energy to create something, and that is not sustainable,” he said. “That is the equation you’ve got to put on the table: How much energy does it take to produce this and how much energy do you get out?”
Ostra is working with the local food distributor Creation Gardens, a few small-time farmers Burress knows and his friend John Dillon, who works as a middleman between restaurants and regional food producers to source food that is produced using high standards, whether it be growing produce or meat or catching it.
“In all reality, we have gotten so far away from how thing are supposed to be done,” Burress said. “Integrity is slipping with this industry. People are just trying to get the cheapest, the quickest.”
The duck and chicken meat for the restaurant are all sourced from nearby producers, he said, and the only other red meat on the menu, besides duck, is rabbit, which it has been argued is considerably more sustainable than beef. The fish used in Ostra’s raw applications including the ceviche and kinilaw will rotate based on what is in season.
“We left a portion of the menu on the vague side so it can change,” Burress said, noting a broader menu change will happen roughly once a quarter.
For Ostra, Burress has partnered with Mike Brady, who runs event company King Sixteen, and Chris Derome, who ran Seviche, A Latin Restaurant’s bar program for a decade.
Derome created the brief cocktail menu, which includes four drinks, each named after a Nickelodeon show — Kablam, Pinwheel, All That and Double Dare. The drinks menu also includes four mocktails, or as the menu refers to them “Ducktails,” a play on another popular Nickelodeon show, Ducktales. Ostra has a “Ducktail” for Huey, Dewey, Louie and the lesser know Duck brother Elixir Kombucha.
Since Ostra has an eye toward health, Burress said, they wanted to offer interesting drinks without alcohol on the menu. Typically, anyone who doesn’t want to drink has to stick to water, tea or soda, or must specially request a cocktail sans liquor.
Just a few days after opening, Burress has identified small tweaks he plans to make, including increasing the portion sizes.
The original for Ostra’s menu idea was to offer small plates with “intense flavors” that take customers on a “palate journey.” The restaurant will still do that, but it also will offer options for people who are interested in getting one dish or two, rather than three or four.
Ostra can seat about 50 customers inside and another 80 on its outdoor patio. It employs 15.
The restaurant’s hours of operation are 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For reservations, call 502-915-0160.