Zzyzx sits just beyond the underpass for Highway 101 on Lewis Road in Camarillo. Coming south, it’s especially easy to reach by taking the Lewis Road offramp, then making right turns at Ventura Boulevard, Arneill Road, Daily Drive and Lewis. If you pass it, just head up Ventura Boulevard and do the whole thing over again.
Fry was front and center on a Sunday morning when we dropped in for breakfast. Open just a few weeks then, and about to celebrate with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 17, Zzyzx was buzzing with business. In between touting the Florentine Benedict-style egg dish, he told us he was originally from Connecticut and had gone to culinary school and worked at a number of restaurants, always with the hope of opening his own place. So he and executive chef Jason Corona are really into making Zzyzx fly. From our experience, the young and cheerful staff also has caught the earnestness bug.
My friend saluted the morning with a glass of grapefruit juice and we both began to sip coffee as we checked out the menu. It was impossible to try everything that sounded good, but we did the best we could. A bowl of Irish oatmeal ($4) arrived steaming and topped with cranberry-raisins and a dose a brown sugar. Our request for extra milk to pour over it all was quickly met. It was a promising start, and things continued on an upward trend for the rest of our visit.
The Florentine ($10) differs from Eggs Benedict in that it’s topped with a garlic cream sauce instead of Hollandaise, but it’s at least a close relation to the latter and equally as rich and fit for the task. Florentine, of course, means spinach, which was part of the mix with poached eggs and good bacon, all layered over mini croissants. A traditional English muffin is an optional bread choice. From the list of accompaniments I chose fresh tomato slices, which were a good balance to the creaminess of the dish. Other options are breakfast potatoes, hash browns, cottage cheese or a fruit kebab.
My friend ordered two eggs over medium with a four-ounce slice of tri-tip ($11), along with the kabob of melon and pineapple. We asked first about how the tri-tip was prepared and Fry assured us it was grilled, so it seemed a safe choice. However they do it — perhaps slicing it off the uncooked tri-tip and then quickly grilling — it turns out to be tender, juicy and tasting like tri-tip you might grill at home, which is the way we like it best.
We couldn’t leave without at least trying the piña colada pancakes ($8), which Fry described as sweet enough to be dessert. They were exceptionally light with fine pineapple-coconut flavor and a coating of vanilla cream rum sauce. The cafe also serves omelets, waffles and French toast, and pancake variations include bacon-and-Fruit Loops cakes for the adventurous.
Lunch sounds like fun, too. There are crab cakes and spinach and artichoke dip for starters, a soup of the day, soup, salad or sandwich combos and burgers including pinot noir and margarita (as in pizza) versions. There are lots of fresh and tasty-sounding sandwiches and a chicken Caesar or tofu wrap. Pastas include a spicy shrimp Diablo version and a veggie primavera. And there are tacos, too, a tiki taco with teriyaki chicken, pineapple salsa and cilantro aioli, and fish tacos with Napa cabbage and pineapple salsa, both with choice of tortilla.
By Rita Moran