Royal Bakery and Cafe
4726 Telephone Road
Many moons ago, my mom and I visited the latest hot spot for baked good deliciousness in Ventura — I must have been only 5 or 6 at the time. I recall perusing the deli cases, checking out all the yummy pastries, cakes and cookies, having a tough time deciding on only one to devour. While my favorite choice isn’t clear from back then, fond memories sweep my mind thinking of Royal Bakery.
Flash forward, 30 years later — and it is actually Royal Bakery’s 30th anniversary — I made my way back for a quick lunch, the deli cases still full of freshly baked treats, though the cases are much smaller than I remember, given that I was about 3 feet shorter the last time I saw them.
On a recent late-lunch trip, we were greeted by a lovely cashier, who was welcoming and patient. While the menu is rather limited — a handful of similar sandwich options (three turkey, two pesto tuna, two chicken [one in a wrap], one vegetarian and one with brie), five salads (house or Caesar [either with chicken], chicken walnut, pesto tuna and Greek), soup, two pizza choices and one quiche, we still had a hard time making up our minds. I think my main problem was the deli cases, tempting me with layered chocolate cake, Halloween cupcakes, cannoli, fruit tarts and more. For our lunch, I chose the pesto tuna on freshly baked sun-dried tomato bread; my companion chose the special chicken club wrap. We both agreed to split a cannoli.
The dining room has about six or so tables and twice as many chairs, a modest dining room. We could have chosen a spot on the shaded patio, but the 80-plus-degree weather was a bit of a drag. I appreciated the festive atmosphere in preparation for Halloween with fake cobwebs strewn through the lone tree inside, but the faux pine Christmas garland around the room and bulbs on the tree threw me off a bit.
Our lunches arrived in a prompt manner, both with rather large field-greens side salads, tossed in a light vinaigrette with a little feta and a good helping of sliced almonds. I was slightly cautious about my sun-dried tomato bread, thinking it might be hard like sourdough, but I was pleasantly surprised with the soft bread that practically disintegrated with each bite, with only a hint of the sun-dried flavor. The pesto tuna salad was balanced with crunchy red onion and celery, just enough pesto and mayo — though I couldn’t really detect mayo other than that the salad was moist — and mild, presumably albacore tuna. The chicken club had thick chunks of grilled chicken, tender bacon with lettuce and tomato, splashed with a tangy sauce, most likely the house vinaigrette dressing, in a spinach wrap. My only complaint, given how much I liked our meals, is that I would have preferred a bigger sandwich — supersize me.
For dessert, we quickly finished the crispy cannoli, filled with a slightly sweet ricotta cheese, the ends dipped in chocolate and pistachio crumbs. And not to forget, the iced tea is not ordinary, having a distinct floral, possibly lavender, finish.
Royal Bakery has been voted one of the best bakeries in Ventura for many years, and it’s no wonder. The care in the confections is clear. But for the sake of memory lane, I will certainly make my way back sooner rather than later.