PICTURED: Vegetarian Benedict with hash browns. Photo by N. Lackey Shaffer
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
Golden Egg Cafe
1651 S. Victoria Ave., #120, Oxnard
2009 E. Main St., Ventura
I’m a sucker for a pretty little house that’s been converted to a restaurant. I love the ambience, the quirks and the homey feel. Ventura has a few sweet spots of this nature, and one of them makes a darn fine breakfast.
The Ventura location of the Golden Egg Cafe (there’s one in Oxnard, too) is a few doors down from uber-popular (and genuinely fabulous) Pete’s Breakfast House, so it has some stiff competition. Having said that, the Egg holds its own. It may not have ever been featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, but what it lacks in flash and sass it more than makes up for in charm.
In this modestly sized house, space is split between a kitchen and a dining room, so the interior isn’t enormous. But it’s cute in a folksy sort of way: sunny yellow walls trimmed in white, crockery and wooden plaques to decorate. Simple and cozy. The exterior is probably the best part: white picket fence, large, shady porch. It really beckons one to slow down and sit a spell.
My husband and I made a point of arriving early on a Sunday, to avoid the rush — a good thing, as the tables filled up fairly quickly halfway through our meal. We grabbed a shady two-seater outside, and were brought coffee, water and menus right away by a server as friendly as our surroundings. The menu isn’t earth shattering: scrambles and omelets, Belgian waffles and pancakes, some Mexican specialties. If you’re inclined towards lunch, there are sandwiches, burgers and salads. Numerous specials are listed on chalk- and whiteboards scattered throughout the restaurant (one of which I missed completely, so keep your eyes peeled).
We began our meal as we often do, with a mimosa — and at just $6.25, it’s an easy indulgence . . . and the second mimosa is half off to boot. Juice options include cranberry, grapefruit, lemon, mango, orange and pineapple; we had the “cactus cooler,” a mix of pineapple and orange juice. We also ordered a cinnamon roll (a house specialty) and a michelada ($6.75; another good deal). All arrived quickly and were very refreshing — particularly the tangy, lemony michelada, which came in a chilled mug rimmed with paprika, salt and pepper. The cinnamon roll, served warm, was divine.
For breakfast proper, my husband ordered the chilaquiles. This particular dish often seems akin to a casserole, the fried corn tortilla chips simmered with the sauce until soft and topped with cheese. At the Golden Egg, it’s more like breakfast nachos: the chips retained their crispness, making it easy to sop up the delicious tomatillo salsa, chorizo and melted cheese. The eggs over easy placed on top released their golden yokes with every bite. Refried beans and home potatoes on the side made for a wonderfully hearty meal.
I ordered the veggie Benedict, which featured one of my favorite combinations: spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and avocado. The vegetables were sandwiched between toasted English muffins and perfectly poached eggs, and then topped with a golden, velvety-smooth hollandaise sauce. High marks for the veg, the eggs, the muffins and the crispy hash browns on the side. The texture of the hollandaise was flawless, but I found the flavor lacking. I added salt, pepper and Tapatio to improve upon it, but I think the basic recipe could use some adjustment.
Ho-hum hollandaise notwithstanding, we thoroughly enjoyed our Golden Egg meal, from hot coffee to hash browns. We even brought a few cinnamon rolls home. The service was delightful, the environment so relaxing, the beverages fresh and the food tasty and filling. This cozy cafe may not be a television star, but we felt like we struck gold all the same.