Throwback menus allow a fresh generation of foodies to reconnect with a past they may not have been old/financially independent/informed enough to experience the first time around. At the same time, our old-timers get to revel in dishes they may be missing, with a generous side of nostalgia. Locally, the throwback menu trend ignited last year when John Sedlar offered the full menu from his first endeavor, Saint Estephe, just as original restaurant opening dishes have recently found their way onto the menus at Angeli Caffe and Drago in the days before their closings. Now, it’s Mary Sue and Susan’s turn, as the Border Grill chefs announce plans to celebrate next month’s leap year day with a one-night offering of dishes from the duo’s City Cafe, the internationally-influenced restaurant they opened on Melrose in 1981 (and later moved to LaBrea as the renamed City), years before they took on the “Too Hot Tamales” moniker.
A menu isn’t available yet, but City drew its inspiration from all over the globe, offering Indian, Thai, South and Central American, and European dishes in a bit of foreshadowing for pan-Latin Ciudad and Feniger’s Street. The trusty City Cuisine cookbook includes a world tour of dishes like salads both Thai and homegrown, tandoori steaks, soba noodles, jalapeno-spiced chicken, beef brisket, salmon mousse, pork schnitzel, and beef stroganoff, among a zillion other inspirations and ideas, so almost anything could make the cut in the end.
The timing of the chefs’ City menu is apt, with a TV show currently in development with Michael Eisner based on Milliken and Feniger’s early days, starting City Cafe, accidentally slicing and dicing each other, and navigating the world of L.A. restaurants as young upstarts. Stay tuned for a menu the second it becomes available and block off February 29th if you’re already down.
And if you’re dying to see a local chef return to a past project with their own throwback menu, please spread the word in our comments (you never know who may be reading).