If you get as many food-related blogs and newsletters as I do, you too may have heard that longtime Los Angeles darling, Chef Susan Feniger, has announced some recent changes to her restaurant line-up. Santa Monica’s Border Grill, the fun and festive Tex-Mex eatery co-owned with partner Mary Sue Milliken is slated to close in early October. And then less than a week later it was announced that Susan’s Mud Hen Tavern on Highland near Melrose, is also closing in early October, taking with it newish Blue Window, a fun walk-up window concept. Chef Kajsa Alger, Susan’s STREET and Mud Hen Tavern partner, created this take-out window whose concept is offering comfort-food entrees for a reasonable price that can all be made vegan.
Now you may remember when our tours first began in August 2010, we stopped at a Hollywood eatery called STREET, which had just debuted a few months previously with Susan and Kajsa at the helm. It was a great concept that our guests loved; the menu featured street foods from around the world that had influenced and inspired Susan and Kajsa’s cooking styles and tastes. Who can forget millet puffs and kaya toast? Not to mention the warm hospitality that greeted us every single visit, not only by Susan and Kajsa but every team member from bartenders to servers to the kitchen team. It was then announced that STREET was closing down to make way for a concept that had been a dream of Susan’s for a while, a more casual neighborhood gathering place. She called it Mud Hen Tavern, in honor of the Toledo Mud Hens from her native Ohio. Initially Mud Hen Tavern was only open for dinner so our little Sites & Bites tour had to find an alternate tasting for our lunchtime tours. Mud Hen Tavern has become very popular for their Monday Night Fried Chicken Nights, Tuesday Night Trivia and Whiskey Wednesdays. While I never got a chance to try Blue Window, I may just have to plan a trip through Terminal 3 at LAX because Blue Window recently opened there, as part of the LAX culinary improvement plan
Perhaps even more sad for me is the closing of Border Grill Santa Monica, though if the truth be known I haven’t dined there in maybe four years. BUT when I first moved to LA, I called Santa Monica home and I could walk to Border Grill at 4th and Broadway from my 4th and Washington apartment. I took so many out of town guests there for lunch, dinner and happy hour, including plenty of yummy margaritas and the chips and trio of salsas. I have brunched there, stopped in after shopping sprees and had dates there. I vividly remember one particularly disastrous singles event called “Eight on A Date” and the only redeeming part of the evening was that it was held at the very warm and familiar Border Grill and I enjoyed my meal. In fact I may have been the only guest at the table who ordered a meal.
I recently paid Mud Hen Tavern a visit to bid the team farewell and try their Monday Night Fried Chicken Dinner. It was so heartwarming to see at least three friendly servers still there from our STREET days, and the always pleasant Chef Kajsa even served our plate of deliciously crunchy and moist fried chicken. I don’t know if I will have a chance to visit Border Grill Santa Monica before they close their doors but I’m going to keep the memories alive by visiting the DTLA (and Las Vegas) locations and trying to catch catering by the Border Grill Truck.
I will eagerly be watching and waiting to see what’s next for Susan Feniger and Kajsa too. These two talented chefs have just as much ambition in the kitchen as they do heart and personality. The old saying is true, when one door closes, another door opens. All of Susan Feniger’s fans will be ready to walk in the door when her next venture is announced.
By Trish Procetto