There’s an Aesop’s fable about a farmer who owns a special goose that lays a golden egg. According to the story, the farmer takes the shiny eggs to market every day and trades them in for money. This is all going fine until the farmer becomes greedy and decides that if the goose can dole out one sparkling egg everyday, then she must be filled with gold. In order to find the treasure, the farmer kills the goose but finds only goose guts inside the dead fowl. The moral, then, is that greed kills all that is good.
Eating a Friday morning breakfast at Ventura’s Golden Egg Cafe, Aesop’s story of greed, desire and special eggs came to mind. Sitting before a plate piled high with a Ventura omelet, hash brown potatoes and rye toast, I felt very greedy. But unlike the moral to “The Golden Goose,” this greed was all good.
The omelet (filled with bacon, black olives and cheddar cheese and topped with a few careful slices of avocado and sour cream) was perfectly cooked, neither runny nor dry. The potatoes tasted homemade, without the rubbery or overly oily flavor found in the frozen hash browns that seem an all-too-common breakfast joint staple. The rye toast was buttered and warm, a crisp and savory perfection. The breakfast was nothing fancy. And that’s just how I wanted it.
And, as it turns out, the hash browns were an omen. They signaled a larger pattern at the Golden Egg. I looked around and saw that before me sat a bottle of real maple syrup, next to a bowl of real half-and-half. And beside those? A glass of freshly squeezed orange, complete with pulp and perfectly acrid tang and a little plastic tub of homemade salsa. For a moment, I swear the clouds parted and a light shone through as pitch-perfect female voices sang the refrain from Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”
OK, so everything is true except that last bit. Still, the breakfast felt miraculous. I’m sure that in some breakfast utopia, it is no marvel to find restaurants free of artificial anything. But in modern American society, the imitators of all things tasty at breakfast seem omnipresent. So it is a huge relief to find a restaurant that is both authentic and affordable.
Buried in a non-descript row of storefronts in Mid-Town, the Golden Egg is a tiny restaurant stuffed into a cute little house. On this cold morning, the walls felt thin. (Or the heat wasn’t on.) Either way, I kept my jacket on during the meal. The service was everything it needed to be for an on-the-way to work meal. My order was taken, the food arrived, I ate and I paid the bill, all in about half an hour. The waiter was courteous and he didn’t charge me for his jokes.
My one complaint was the quality of the coffee. It just didn’t have that Friday morning jolt that I needed. The flavor was great and the color looked right (and I already mentioned the real half-and-half) but it just didn’t have that zing.
Still, I’m hooked. Like a farmer searching greedily in a nest for that golden egg, I’ll be back for more.