A Letter from Erica
Kitchen Mouse officially began in the spring of 2012 as a small catering operation out of my home. It quickly grew, and I employed the help of friends, family--really anyone available. By the time fall rolled around, I was searching for a much needed storefront and commercial kitchen to expand into. When I saw 5904 Figueroa, a defunct check-cashing operation that would soon be our Highland Park home, I was instantly drawn to it. The high ceilings and long narrow shape brought me back to the New York City cafes of my childhood.
Growing up in Westchester County, just north of Manhattan, I was exposed early and often to good food. My parents were both serious home cooks; our kitchen had a garland range, professional convection ovens, and a salamander. I imitated what I saw, playing “cooking show” and making cheese souffles out of “The Joy of Cooking.” My parents owned a recording studio in Hell’s Kitchen, and I grew up eating at iconic New York restaurants like Shopsin’s and marveling at all the “restaurants with high ceilings,” as I used to call them. The strongest memories I have are tied to meals, and I’m happiest when I’m eating and cooking.
My mom was my favorite person to eat and cook with, and in 2008 she passed away suddenly. She was a harsh food critic, but when she loved something, she loved it. When she recommended a restaurant or dish, you knew it was going to be fantastic. Before she died, she told me about “the best pizza she’d ever had,” at a restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island, called “il Forno.” It took me 8 years, but when I finally made it there, it was indeed the best pizza I had ever had-and I’d spent a summer in Italy. I started eating meat again after 10 years as a vegetarian when I lost her. I wanted to order all the things she had eaten, and taste all the foods of my childhood, like her Italian family’s meatballs and “gravy.”
Shortly before I turned 30, I indulged my childhood fantasy of becoming a chef. I went to Le Cordon Bleu to be trained in traditional French technique. And when I spent my “externship” working outside of Rome, I ate everything in sight. Six months later, back in the US, it was 2012 and I got my first customer as “Kitchen Mouse.” I decided then, to create more plant based, but deeply satisfying and delicious food. Fast forward to today, Kitchen Mouse has become a place for people to enjoy and share experiences over food, which makes me immensely proud.
Why Kitchen Mouse?
People always ask where we got the name Kitchen Mouse. I have always loved mice (and hamsters). As a kid I had mice dresses, toys, and would rescue live ones from mouse traps. I was told it was probably not the best name for a food establishment, but I liked it!
Why is our cafe gluten-free & dairy free?
It’s rough out there for food options if you have dietary restrictions. After a few years of catering, I learned that dairy-free and gluten-free are our most common requests. It’s also the way my husband eats and how I cook at home. When I was designing the cafe menu back in 2014, I decided to open a place where you weren’t constantly having to modify dishes or ask to “hold the cheese.” I believe we should eat less meat and dairy - we’ve all seen the documentaries and felt it in our hearts - at the very least for our planet and our health. Keeping our cafe vegetarian is one way we try to do our part. It warms my heart to see people line up to eat our vegetarian menu and enjoy our food. That said, we are not a dedicated gluten-free or vegan kitchen, so please use caution if you have a severe allergy.
Is your catering vegetarian?
It is if you want it to be! We are passionate about vegan and vegetarian menus. Although we offer meat options, we get extra excited when we get asked to create a fully vegan meal. When we do source meat, we make sure to use meat and fish that’s organic or farmed using best practices.
What is this I keep hearing about your market next door?
We are opening a market next door called TOPO. It will be entirely plant based, but this time we’re introducing some gluten products with freshly baked bread.
Is your food organic?
We really mean it when we say that we use as many organic ingredients as possible. The only times we don’t buy organic is when there are crop shortages or we can’t source an organic version.
What's up with the cookie jars?
They were our Mom’s. She had 2,000 of them at one point and was featured in Good Housekeeping & Country Living. The jars you see in KM are the creme de la creme of what remains of her collection.
Are we kid friendly?
Keeping families in mind, we have a kid’s section and special kid’s menu, too!
Founder & Executive Chef
Director of Operations
Chef de Cuisine