Scratch Bakery and Cafe
24321 Avenida De La Carlota
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
It's pretty difficult to keep up with the OC restaurant scene. Just when I think I have it wired, a restaurant closes, or another one opens. Then there are the places that inexplicably fall through the cracks. These are joints that I just plain miss. Good spots that for some reason or another don't get the attention that they deserve. Scratch Bakery and Cafe definitely falls into that category.
I was dining at a nearby restaurant recently and saw Scratch Bakery from across the parking lot. I didn't really think too much about it until a few days later when I got an email from them asking that I come in and try them out. I figured that it must be my destiny to give them a try, so I hurriedly replied in the affirmative that I'd come in the next Thursday.
Scratch Bakery might get overlooked because of their location. Not only do they have to contend with all of the stalled construction going on at the old Laguna Hills Mall, but they are also tucked into a less-trafficked corner of a shopping center that features Trader Joe's, Marshalls, brunch favorite Break of Dawn, and the weirdly, still thriving Woody's Diner. Man, how is that place still in business?
Anyways, back to the business at hand. You can trace the origins of this bakery to the Northen California town of Turlock, which is where a grandmother, Nana Fi, opened a bakery in 1989. The baked goods sold there was a great hit with many of the locals. The family eventually moved south and opened up Nana Fi's Bakery in Laguna Hills six years ago. In 2018, the bakery was rebranded as Scratch Bakery and Cafe with the same family running things.
Scratch Bakery and Cafe is truly a scratch bakery, as all of the 25 plus baked goods that are available daily here are made on the premises. They have plenty of cake offerings but do not do specialty cake orders, tiered or themed. They do however produce holiday and themed cakes throughout the year. I counted at least eight flavors of cake during my visit. They are also very well known for their bread and provide it to numerous restaurants in the area.
The weekends can be a little tricky finding seating in the small cafe and outside in front of the restaurant, as people like to linger with their coffee and meals in the relaxed and family atmosphere at Scratch Cafe. Breakfast is the big draw here, but there's also a lunch menu that features a good selection of sandwiches, some of which are named after family members. Soups and salads round out the lunch menu. I hear the soups are amazing, but alas, I was here for breakfast, so let's check out how that all turned out for me.
It would almost be impossible for me to visit a bakery and not get a Cinnamon Roll ($3.50). After spying the ones behind the glass case at Scratch, I knew I was not going to be able to resist having one. They even offered to heat it up for me, which allowed for the icing to form a sugary cascade pooling on the plate. This cinnamon roll was lighter than most, with a very subtle cinnamon flavor inside. I really liked that they provided plenty of icing, as there's nothing worse than a cinnamon roll without enough icing for the whole roll. A sweet start to my first meal of the day.
This Breakfast Sandwich ($5.95) has ruined me for the rare occasion that I travel to the Golden Arches for an Egg McMuffin. Scratch Bakery is pretty well known for their English muffins, which are made here. The result is a lighter, more airy English muffin. Way better than anything you can find in the grocery store or at McDonald's. The insides of the sandwich are not to be discounted though. A perfectly folded egg is joined with thick-cut, crispy bacon and cheddar cheese. A very hearty breakfast sandwich. This kept me full and satisfied the rest of the day.
For some reason, there's a backlash about Avocado Toast ($6.75). I don't really get the averse reaction that this delicious combination receives. Not only was the version at Scratch delicious, but visually stunning as well. They top their house-made rosemary bread with a smear of avocado, sliced tomato, lemon pepper, and I chose to add a fried egg for an extra dollar and a half. I loved the way that the runny yolk tied everything together. The bread was sturdy enough to hold the toppings and the tomato slices were some of the freshest I've had in a while. So, give the much-maligned avocado toast a break and just take it for what it is, a simple, delicious snack.
Scratch Cafe is well known, not only for their English muffins but also for their Croissants ($3.00). From what I hear these are very time consuming to make, with lots of layers to them. The result is one of the best croissants you will find in OC. It was buttery, but not overloaded with butter flavor. Light and airy, with very pleasing flakiness to it. A great side item to anything that you order off of the Scratch Bakery and Cafe menu.
I was pretty full when it was time to leave, but I needed something to go home with, so I got a Chocolate Chip Cookie ($2.75) and Oatmeal Cookie ($2.75) for a little later. Well, later ended up being twenty or so minutes. Yeah, willpower with food has never really been my forte. Both of these cookies were good. I like my chocolate chip cookies with a crunchy outer ring and a softer, chewier middle. This one checked those boxes. The oatmeal might have been even better. It had a great texture to it and the flavor warmed me from the inside. It almost made me wish that I had saved it longer than the hour after I had left Scratch Bakery.
Scratch Bakery and Cafe definitely qualifies as a hidden gem in South OC. I'm very happy that they reached out and invited me to come in and give them a try. Small, family-run businesses are usually the places where you can find the best meals, and that was the case on this recent Thursday. I'm already making plans to come back and try their sandwiches and their biscuits and gravy, which is only offered on weekends. I'm very happy I got a little nudge to try this place and hopefully reading this will give you a little prod to do the same.
For more information about Scratch Bakery and Cafe, head to their website here: https://www.scratchbakerycafe.com/