The owners of Ria’s Bakery Café were the last caretakers of Naraine’s Bakery on Old Winter Garden Rd. Sabeeta and Carl have taken their Guyanese and Canadian culinary pedigree to a quaint little spot in Ocoee, a stone throw from West Oaks Mall on Clarke Rd.
Surprisingly, this is not your traditional Indo Caribbean slap dash place of curries, fried rice and chow mein. This relatively bright and inviting space caters to its American neighbors. Next door is Diva Dolls Fitness and Pole. Fitness and healthy eating goes hand in hand. Healthy egg white dishes, gluten free items, fresh fruit smoothies and a host of health conscious items make the daily specials. This healthy menu invites the Divas to try out Caribbean flavors.
Not only does this place serve as a café, but they sell a select few West Indian grocery items. Spices, chow mein (Guyanese noodles), sugar and snacks are neatly displayed. West Indian and French pastries both freshly made and prepackaged are available.
The always smiling and charming owner, Sabeeta, is a Canadian classically trained pastry chef. She honed her skills in Switzerland for many years before returning to Canada. Now, we have the honor of sampling her talents. Sabeeta entertains full catering orders. American style party platters includes appetizers, fresh fruit, cheese and veggie trays, chicken bites, bouchees, deviled eggs, and empanadas. West Indian baked goods include all types of breads, butter flap, tennis rolls, bagels, pine tarts, cheese rolls, Chinese cake, salara, guava cheese rolls, Danishes, croissants, chicken and beef patties.
Indo Caribbean hot items such as goat, beef, and duck curry, salt fish, cook up rice, yellow rice, lasagna, dhal puri, roti, bake, potato balls, phoulorie, tamarind balls, plantain chips, fried channa, mittai, cheese straw and cassava pone are prepared by the other self mastered owner, Carl. I am guessing like most Caribbean chefs, these flavors were handed down through generations. Flashes of two older ladies in the kitchen confirms my suspicion that there are generations of goodness coming out of that kitchen.
Assorted pastries – Pine tarts, cheese and guava rolls, coconut cake. The doughy crust is firm and holds up well, it does not fall apart. Fillings are full of flavors.
Brownie Cupcakes – crunchy top, moist inside. sinfull.
Bake and Salt Fish – The preferred Guyanese and Trinidadian breakfast. This is as popular as pancakes and eggs. Bake is a fluffy soft, pita bread like item, that opens to allow for various stuffings or can be used as a sopping vessel for gravies. This bake was tender, moist and fluffy. Salt Fish, is a form of cured fish. Salt is extracted via a hot water bath and the fish is shredded, then cooked with in this case with onions, garlic, scallions, tomato and pepper. Ingredients may vary from one Caribbean Island to another. This preparation was a good balance of flavors.
Crab Cakes, Peas and Rice – The quintessential favorite Caribbean crustacean, crab, is made into a substantial patty. Nothing says Caribbean better than Black eye peas and rice. The rice is soft, moist and succulent. Cole slaw was creamy and crisp.
Goat Curry – The slow long simmering of goat meat in curry spices makes this a West Indian favorite. Carl tweaked this recipe that he adopted from the ancient county of Berbice in Guyana. He wanted a dark, pungent, succulent curry that hit the senses. Unlike other West Indian curries around town, this was thick and rich. Goat meat was pressure cooked to tenderness.
Dhal Puri – is a tortilla like item made from flour, which is equated to Indian Naan, called roti in the Caribbean. However, this particular roti is stuffed with ground chick peas. Tender and fluffy, the perfect vessel to sop up curry.
Roti – just like Dhal Puri, with out the chick peas. Equally tender and fluffy. If the idea of falling chick peas does not fancy you, then this is your vessel to soak up curry.
For a West Indian place, this is very inviting and enlightening. The owners are very patient and are more than willing to explain anything on the menu. I am told that there are plans to add more chairs and tables inside and outside. Strike up a conversation and you might find a piece of the Caribbean right here in your own backyard.