Restaurant News & Reviews

Cambria’s French Corner Bakery takes the cake with fresh breads, pastries

Black Forest cake is among the from-scratch offerings at French Corner Bakery.
Black Forest cake is among the from-scratch offerings at French Corner Bakery. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

From croissants to cream puffs, lattes to lemon bars, tortas to turkey sandwiches, French Corner Bakery really rises to the occasion. The from-scratch treats from this Cambria eatery have been tempting locals and visitors alike for more than 35 years.

The front retail area of the bakery is largely taken up with display cases of pastries and shelves of bread, so there are just a few tables available inside. If you can grab a spot, it’s a cozy place to enjoy a nosh and a latte made with beans from Cambria Coffee Roasting Company.

Weather permitting, there’s also some seating out on the sidewalk where you can watch the comings and goings of Cambria’s East Village.

Owned and operated by the Viveros family since 2004, this location has been a bakery since 1979, when Richard Tanner and his wife, Kathe Tanner, a longtime reporter for The Cambrian and The Tribune, started The Upper Crust Bakery and Tearoom. They operated it for a decade.

“We converted a 1920s-era service station lube bay, which is now the tearoom area, and a bookshop, which is now the kitchen,” Kathe Tanner recalled. Indeed, like many businesses in Cambria, the French Corner Bakery still bears the feel of a reimagined building, which is part of its charm.

The bakery had several other owners before Miguel Viveros and his family purchased it. It’s a business he knows well, having worked there for a couple years about two decades ago; he noted that “we’re using almost all the same recipes now as we did then.”

That recipe book must be bulging at the seams given the breadth of products produced by the French Corner Bakery every day.

Among the most popular pastries coming out of the ovens are bear claws, cinnamon rolls and macaroons, Viveros said. Other sweet treats include brioches, Danishes, fruit scones and muffins, plus an array of cakes too numerous to mention. Specialty cakes in almost any size, shape and flavor can be also ordered.

French Corner Bakery serves up savory options as well, such as quiches and slices of pizza.

Croissants are very popular. Go ahead and get that whole wheat croissant. Many attempts at these slightly healthier treats aren’t worth the bother; here, it’s definitely still a croissant.

One of the few changes the Viveros family made to the bakery was to add deli sandwiches to the lineup. (They’re available starting at about 8 a.m.) Smoked turkey with Creole aioli, Big Sur tuna with avocado and hot and spicy Italian meatball are just a few of the options.

In addition, you can order an authentic Mexican torta with your choice of pierna (pork), pollo (chicken), jamon (ham) or Milanesa (breaded chicken cutlet).

Vegetarians can tuck into a fresh mozzarella sandwich with roasted peppers or go for the Mother Nature veggie sandwich, which is packed with pepper jack cheese, carrots, cilantro, sprouts and mushrooms. You’ll need two hands to eat it and won’t miss the meat.

Of course, all of those sandwiches are served on an array of freshly baked breads, from French rolls to baguettes to ciabattas. The bakery also supplies breads for a few other businesses in town, including Sandy’s Deli & Bakery in Cambria’s West End, which the Viveroses have owned since 2006.

“We’re baking everything here (at French Corner Bakery) fresh and from scratch,” Viveros said. “Nothing is frozen or premade and we’re baking every single day. That’s our commitment to our customers.”

Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at ktbudge@sbcglobal.net.

French Corner Bakery

2214 Main St., Cambria (at Burton Drive in the East Village)

927-8227 or www.frenchcornerbakery.com

Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

The scene: The tiny retail area only has a few tables, but if you can snag one, it’s a cozy place for locally roasted coffee and a nosh.

The cuisine: All manner of from-scratch sweet and savory pastries and specialty cakes, plus quiches, pizzas and deli sandwiches served on freshly baked bread; coffee and tea also available.

Expect to spend: Most bakery items $2 to $5, breads $5 to $6, sandwiches $8 to $9

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