down in the park
A new healthy eating concept has sprouted up in Hermann Park. Ginger Kale quietly opened last week.
Located in the former Pinewood Cafe next to McGovern Lake and near the entrance to the Houston Zoo, Ginger Kale is the latest project from Ordinary Concepts, the emerging restaurant group that recently opened Vietnamese restaurant Saigon Hustle as a cloud kitchen in Blodgett Food Hall.
Ordinary Concepts managing partner Cassie Ghaffar tells CultureMap that Ginger Kale aims to operate as a "fine fast" concept serving food that’s both healthy and delicious. Working with a consulting firm, the company took the menu it created for an upcoming cafe concept and adapted it to park goers. The result covers a range of options that starts with salads, breakfast tacos, and hot and cold sandwiches, as well as more trendy options like toasts, chia pudding, acai bowls, and cold-pressed juices.
Ghaffar gets namechecked in Cassie’s Signature Salad, a variation on tabbouleh that combines parsley, cucumber, cherry tomato, candied pecans, and a sumac vinaigrette over a mix of romaine and cabbage. Other highlights include taro blueberry chia pudding, snickerdoodle cookie, Pearsuit of Happiness juice (pear, pineapple, cucumber, lime, turmeric), and a sea salt-honey latte.
“We wanted to bring a concept to the park that wasn’t the typical park style food,” Ghaffar writes in an email. “We took a park menu and spruced it up with better food, better coffee, and better pastries. We were lucky to have been given this chance to not only showcase our menu earlier than expected, but to have the incredible view and inherited patrons made it even sweeter.”
To renovate the petite, 1,400-square-foot space, the company worked with Gin Design Group, the local firm behind concepts such as Eunice, Axelrad, and Traveler’s Table. Elements include concrete booths, custom chairs and barstools, and a macramé wall art installation by local artist Nancy McElligott.
“Ginger Kale is possibly the only restaurant in Houston with a lakefront view,” Gin Design Group founder and creative director Gin Braverman said in a statement. “As such, we wanted to purposefully limit the interior finish palette to five natural elements — concrete, wood, rope, leather, and brick — in order to allow the park’s natural setting to remain the prime focus.”
Finally, let’s discuss the restaurant’s name, which sounds like two ingredients in one of those cold-pressed juices. Ghaffar explains that she came up with the name three years ago without a specific application in mind. She and her partners have been waiting for the right opportunity to deploy it.
“We just loved the play on words so we secured the social handle, domain, and logo, and never touched it again,” she writes. “Three years later, we walk into the space and said, ‘THIS IS IT, PULL THE NAME OUT OF ARCHIVE.’”