Braxton’s Kitchen
317 Carmen Dr
Camarillo
805-384-7566
$3-13
braxtonskitchen.com


Camarillo’s popular Breakfast Café had been in the Trader Joe’s shopping center on Carmen Drive for seemingly forever, and its closure caught me by surprise. It feels like only yesterday that Greek Cuisine (owned by the same family) opened right next door. The Greek appears to be going strong, but Breakfast Café (whose lettering can still be faintly seen on the building) has given way to a new enterprise: Braxton’s Kitchen.

Multigrain pancakes with fresh strawberries and crispy bacon, with maple syrup and powdered sugar.

It’s named after its canine mascot, a handsome white, black and brown fellow whose face graces the menu. And with Braxton in mind, the restaurant is leaning into its dog-friendly image: Pups are allowed on the patio outside, and I’m told there are plans for a curated dog menu down the line as well. Humans will find the small indoor dining area clean, bright and casual. Orders are placed at the counter, and patrons bring a number back to the table to await their food. A tidy beverage station with water and coffee allows customers to serve themselves; a small bakery case near the cash register is filled with tempting baked goods and containers of fresh-squeezed juice.

Braxton’s Kitchen offers farm-to-table cuisine for breakfast and lunch. It’s not an enormous menu, but there certainly is something for everyone. Healthy options (yogurt and granola, salads), carnivore-friendly dishes (burgers and London broil) and plenty of items to appeal to vegans and vegetarians (vegetable sandwiches, a black bean wrap) can be found.

Like any good breakfast place, crowds abound on the weekend. My companion and I avoided this by dining on a weekday morning. The restaurant was empty except for two gentlemen working on their laptops at the counter. Not a bad place for a telecommute!

I’m typically a savory breakfast kind of gal, but was taken in by the multigrain pancakes with berries and bacon. To drink: an order of watermelon juice, which was pricy at $5 but so fresh and icy-cold. My companion had the avocado toast, adding a fried egg, plus a mimosa and a cup of coffee. It wasn’t long before our friendly server had our meal on the table.

Avocado toast: Avocado-red onion mash, topped with fresh slices of avocado and one egg, perfectly fried, with a still-runny yolk on a thick slice of French bread. The finishing touches: a tasty pile of cherry tomatoes and arugula drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

My one complaint about the pancakes: They were a tad dry, and a generous pour of maple syrup was required. But otherwise, it was a great dish. The pancakes were fluffy with a plenty of cinnamon spice in the batter, the fresh strawberries were sweet and ripe and went beautifully with the crispy crumbled bacon. It’s quite filling, though, and a little rich — as good as berries and bacon are together, a little goes a long way.

My partner’s avocado toast was the healthier option, by far. And it was equally good in its way. One large, thick slice of toasted French bread was spread with an avocado-red onion mash, which was topped with fresh slices of avocado and one egg, perfectly fried, with a still-runny yolk. All of that was then buried under a tasty pile of cherry tomatoes and arugula drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Bright and green and fresh, but also filling and flavorful. Avocado toast isn’t exactly an original idea at this point, but Braxton’s Kitchen does the California staple proud.

Just for something to nibble (apparently I was carb-loading) we also ordered a basket of fries. The menu claims they are cut in house, but what came to the table was dry and stale, leading me to suspect that these were frozen fries reheated. Perhaps they were out of potatoes? In any case, we were disappointed.

The fry fiasco notwithstanding, we enjoyed our breakfast at Braxton’s Kitchen — enough so that I’d go back to try lunch. I’m also curious to see how the menu and concept evolve, with the “official” opening taking place June 8-9. Even if nothing changed, it would still be a respectable brunch spot with plenty of appeal for all types of palates . . . and patrons of both the two- and four-legged variety.