In Good Taste
Fifty years and continuing better than ever
By JR Grant 01/26/2012
2521 Sycamore Drive
2440 Thousand Oaks Blvd.
Since 1961, Harold’s Restaurant in Thousand Oaks has been serving outstanding meals to hungry diners. The relatively small and unprepossessing location nearly always has lines of waiting hungry patrons who crave the fluffy omelets and Mexican specialties and so many numerous offerings on the gigantic menu. Still owned and operated by the same family, Harold’s has now added another location in Simi Valley, and a recent visit there indicates the success of the restaurant will assuredly continue in its second location.
Again, a small frontage space and a tidy but utilitarian design on the inside, Harold’s Simi Valley has the look and feel of having been there for quite some time. Tastefully yet sparsely decorated in greens, olives, whites and with a crisp and shiny hardwood floor, the efficient and welcoming decoration enhances the friendly and comfortable layout. When the attentive server arrives, you kind of feel like you are going to enjoy the visit, whatever you order.
The menu pretty much parallels the Thousand Oaks location: delicious and large omelets of every description, waffles, pancakes (nearly every breakfast combination you can imagine), and burgers, sandwiches and salads for the lunch menu. As I was there in between breakfast and lunchtime, I opted for the bacon and sausage scramble with green and red pepper, onion and mushroom, accompanied with hash browns and rye toast. I love the fluffiness of Harold’s omelets, and was hoping for the same consistency in the scramble; alas, the eggs were a bit overdone, but still had good flavor and texture. Next time I think I’ll stick with the tried and true omelet. The hash browns were crispy and tasty, and the rye bread for the toast was particularly substantial and delicious.
The highlight of the meal, though, came from my decision to accompany the breakfast with a cup of the homemade albondigas soup. A friend had told me the chef at Simi Valley was particularly good with the Mexican items on the menu. If the soup is any indication, I look forward to returning to sample the many south-of-the-border offerings. The meatball soup was perfect: a flavorful broth, tasty but not overpowering large meatballs, firm yet fully cooked potatoes and carrots, and also bits of flavorful yet robust cabbage. In all, a memorable albondigas soup, and a good indication of the care the kitchen takes with food preparation and ingredients.
On Thursday in Simi Valley (Wednesday in Thousand Oaks), Harold’s offers from 5 p.m. the all-you-can-eat, make-your-own-taco bar. The combinations are overwhelming, and the food preparation is wonderful. It would not surprise me if Thursday evening at Harold’s becomes the Simi Valley standard dining-out option. At $7.95, it is also one of the most reasonable buffet offerings in Ventura County.
I have yet to make it out to Harold’s for the dinner offerings. It seems to be a chef’s prerogative for the menu; my Simi Valley friends tell me that recently they tremendously enjoyed the pasta bar (which served as the main dinner offering that night). From their report, the pasta primavera with julienned fresh vegetables, butter wine sauce and fresh herbs was particularly enjoyable. And, as previously stated, there are so many American breakfasts and such an abundance of Mexican specialties on the menu that I am hard-pressed to categorize this restaurant as “classic American breakfast” or “Mexican-influenced diner” or “home-cooked old-fashioned international restaurant.”
I will mention that portions at Harold’s are very substantial, which on one hand is too bad because there is always a selection of homemade pies for dessert. (The coconut cream with a very flaky crust is particularly outstanding.) Harold’s is not a fancy restaurant, and seems to appeal to the down-home crowd. Some may think the prices are a bit higher than chain restaurant options, but the home-cooked taste and presentation certainly make it seem worthwhile and of good value. For 50 years in Thousand Oaks, and now for just three months in Simi Valley, the friendly service and across-the-board delicious food is certain to keep this restaurant a much-loved breakfast, lunch and dinner option in Ventura County.