PICTURED: Country Benedict with poached eggs, sausage patties and mushrooms smothered in rich hollandaise sauce; hash browns on the side. Photo by Dean Johnson
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
The Galloping Hen
305 Borchard Drive, Ventura
The Galloping Hen has taken up the corner spot in the shopping center near Big Lots for as long as I have been in Ventura — back before there was a Big Lots, come to think of it, and predating BierBrats and Tomahawk Barbershop by years. Just a humble little place, open for breakfast and lunch, serving the usual fare. I ate there once or twice years ago, and it was decent if unspectacular. Charming in that country cafe kind of way (frilly yellow curtains in the windows and red and white checkered tablecloths), but never terribly busy.
Well, the Galloping Hen seems to have been getting herself in shape the last few years, because during a recent weekend morning I found the place all filled up, with numerous parties on the waiting list. It was too hot to stand in line so I came back on a weekday morning (early) with my husband to see what the fuss was all about.
The first thing one might notice is that the restaurant has made good use of its outdoor spaces. It doesn’t spill into the parking lot, but there’s a small side patio and tables have been set up on the sidewalk. Seating areas are decently spaced, and — even better — plastic screens separate all of them. I felt very comfortable dining here.
Our waiter quickly brought us our menus, which looked freshly laminated — and I wondered if the proprietors took advantage of the COVID-19 slowdown to revamp things. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a simple cafe — omelets, scrambles, pancakes and French toast for breakfast; sandwiches and burgers for lunch — but there were a lot of options. Twenty different kinds of omelets, including seafood, Hawaiian, Greek, Chiles Verde and Colorado. Five types of eggs Benedict. Avocado toast and the Cheese Lover grilled cheese sandwich, which are almost certainly new. I looked forward to digging in.
I ordered the bacon frittata with hash browns and a biscuit. It consisted of bacon, spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes cooked into a rough “pie” with beaten eggs and topped with cheese. Quite generous — it was close to four inches in diameter and an inch thick — but very tasty. It benefited from some additional salt and pepper and a side of salsa (which the server was happy to bring me), but I was quite happy with my meal. The hash browns on the side were wonderfully crisp and a deep golden brown; probably some of the better I’ve had. The dry, dense biscuit wasn’t quite as good.
My meal was perfectly satisfying, but paled in comparison to my husband’s breakfast. He had selected the country Benedict with poached eggs, sausage patties and sauteed mushrooms covered in golden hollandaise — a mouthwatering combination. The mushrooms were especially good: cut thick, well seasoned and sauteed until just tender. A very stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal that made the tastebuds sing . . . and the arteries whimper, with all that butter and pork fat. But for an indulgent option for Benedict lovers, I highly recommend it.
All in all, it was a hearty, country-style breakfast, just as advertised. We came away from the Galloping Hen with full bellies, smiles on our faces and a new respect for a decades-old restaurant we’d previously underestimated. After 36 years, the old gal is still in the running.