This is a fun one for me. I get to write a rave review about an entrepreneur from my home town making something incredible here in my new town.
Mud Hen Tavern is a perfect blend of Midwestern comfort, in both atmosphere and food, with the breezy openness and health-conscious touch of Southern California.
Our first visit to the tavern was over a year ago, still a bit before I took the leap into publishing my own food blog. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of what I ate that night in December, but I can recall it no problem because it was awesome.
We were seated at the long, solid oak and copper bar anticipating the samplings of this wonderful woman from Toledo, Susan Feniger. This was just days before catching a plane back home for Christmas.
I was pleasantly surprised to see some vegan options on the menu and most dishes came with something fresh and green. They even offer fresh squeezed juices. But it wasn’t pigeonholed into a “health food place”. Essentially it’s a spot where both my husband, with the iron immune system, and little ol’ me, exacting a daily battle with unhealthy organisms (Candida), can both get a bite to eat.
The food isn’t run-of-the mill, nor is it radical to the point of being more a work of art than something to consume. Don’t get me wrong, their plating is beautiful. But the tagline “Honest Food. Fun People. Good Conversation.” couldn’t be more accurate. Its creative, but simple enough not to be overbearing.
On my first visit I had a vegan dish with walnuts soaked and cooked in savory spices, taking the place of meat on corn tortillas. (I’m not vegan, but I take it easy on meat consumption in general to help my digestive system.) It was unreal delicious! I could hardly tell it wasn’t beef and just tasted great. It was served with salad and I washed it down with a tall cool glass of sparkling water and lime.
I don’t drink for health reasons, but for those of you who do, they have a huge variety of cocktails and mixed drinks to choose from with the same sense of originality as the food menu.
The following time we went for brunch and I had the Winter Squash Frittata. It was just perfect. Not soppy or too dry, garnished with an innocent dab of goat’s cheese and served with a side of salad. I hope they bring this one back next fall.
We went again the morning after getting home from Toledo for Christmas this year. That first day back, when there’s literally nothing in the fridge and you use it as an excuse to drop by one of your favorites to further explore their brunch menu. I can’t stress enough what a luxury it is for a Candida sufferer to have that option now and again.
I went for a hearty breakfast burrito, eating around the flour tortilla and skipped the sour cream. With a diet as restrictive as mine, sometimes you just have to make adjustments yourself. It was a great breakfast with eggs and fresh peppers in a savory sauce. Nick and I split a salad too, to help alkalize the meal. I left feeling great; satisfied and not heavy.
When I first read about Mud Hen Tavern I was excited, both because of my home-town connection with the owner, and because the menu looked interesting; non-standard, but familiar enough. When we were waiting for that first dish, I was nervous the way you’re nervous for a friend the first time they perform music in front of people; anticipating the reveal and also hoping they don’t suck.
Thankfully, Susan’s contribution to the LA food scene is a long ways away from sucking. It makes me proud, it makes me happy, it makes me full. Mud Hen Tavern is cause for celebration. Maybe by treating yourself to one of their unique, satisfying meals.
Have you been to the tavern yet? Tell me what you had and how you liked it in the comments. I love swapping food stories.