I went to the Thousand Oaks Café on Austin Highway a few times, always wondering why it was called that when it was so far from Thousand Oaks. I was never impressed, but the last time I went, for lunch with my Significant Other, I was so underwhelmed that I vowed never to go again. The food was greasier than a Mr. Gatti's pizza and every bit as bland, and I felt sick to my stomach later on.
In the two or three years since, my curiosity about the name has been rewarded: there is an original location, actually on (or just off of) Thousand Oaks, which I came across unexpectedly when I was out that way searching for ... oh, who remembers what? What I do remember, and this because I mentioned it in a posting on this blog, was that the food there was utterly unremarkable, which right there makes it better than anything I'd had at the Austin Highway location.
Still, I pass by the Austin Highway location several times a month, and noticed that my favourite dish, chilaquiles, has been prominently promoted on their outdoor sign for a year or two now. Eventually, lust for chilaquiles overcame my resolve, and I had breakfast there today.
The good news is, it wasn't bad. The bad news is, it wasn't good. In fact, I don't think I've ever been to a more run-of-the-mill restaurant. The chilaquiles were, oh, okay. Just okay. They had all the right ingredients; could've done with a little more peppers and tomatoes; the onions were nicely sautéed, and the eggs were firm but not dry. There were, if anything, too many tortilla pieces, but it's hard to complain about that. (Still, I manage....) The coating of cheese --- dare I call it cheese? I suspect it is more properly called cheese food --- over the top was profuse but not, thankfully, exuberant. Salsa verde and a little black pepper made the whole mix sufficiently piquant for my aging palate.
The dish came with refried beans that must have been puréed to be so thin and soggy, and with chunks of fried potatoes, a growing and disturbing trend in Tex-Mex eatery art. (Disturbing because rice and beans, taken together, form proteins within the body, and so provide at least a modicum of nutrition to the largely poor people who rely on them. Fried potatoes and beans together are just starch and fat.)
Lastly, let me mention the coffee. It was coffee. More drinkable than the supercharged sludge I'd gotten on a recent venture Beyond The Death Loop, but that's the best thing I can say about it. Honestly, I think somebody may have run a little more water through the filter than is strictly proper.
The service was adequate, and that, I think, describes it as fully as I'm capable of. Good enough to earn a 15% tip, with none of the hovering or meaningless chatter that puts me off, but also with none of the pleasantry or attentiveness that earns a higher return.
The place is an old Jim's, or something very like it: the paradigmatic Okay Place.