Fresh & Fabuous Café
212 West 4th Street
Oxnard, CA 93030
M-F 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
S 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Closed Sunday

Let’s just start here: Carrot sticks. Carrot sticks my friends. How many eateries do you visit where such fresh orange delights are a side dish option?

My guess is not many. Diners in Oxnard, nonetheless, now have that option, as well as sliced tomato, cucumber and olives, pita chips and crostini to accompany the delectable choices at Fresh & Fabulous Café and Bakery, a business that could set an example of what to do that many other areas in the county (I’m looking at you Downtown Ventura) would be wise to follow.

Fresh & Fabulous — excessively effusive as its name may be — was a delight to visit for more reasons than the possibility of veggie accompaniment. I’ll make the work easy on myself and put it in the words of my super spy lunchtime companion, who has harbored a life long dream to review restaurants.

“I loved the ambiance, the choice of font for the menus, the chalkboard menus, the lighting, the dark red paint, the coziness, and the overall ambiance and décor,” the secret agent diner said. “The service was prompt, attentive, and friendly. I liked the sweet little old ladies behind the counter.”

Indeed, the “sweet little old ladies” were cheerful and helpful, drawing our attention to specials of the day and options such as the whole wheat baguette available for my friend’s $6.75 roasted veggie sandwich, a choice she said she would have otherwise missed but thoroughly enjoyed.

The rest of the sandwich, she said, was “flavorful and light.” It consisted of roasted red peppers, eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms with provolone cheese and pesto.

“The pesto and the veggies were really fresh,” the super spy said. “The portions seemed kind of small, but it filled me up. I left feeling full but not disgusting and sluggish.”

She also raved about the freshly baked side of pita chips and hummus she ate.

I, meanwhile, kept on the freshness kick and ordered the fabulously titled panzanella salad. While I couldn’t quite understand how it was any different than a salad with fresh croutons, I still thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the interplay of the cucumbers, capers, sweet peppers and other veggies with the champagne vinaigrette. The vegetables, particularly the cukes, were incredibly fresh. I also added grilled chicken for $1.75 in addition to the $6.50 large salad (smalls are $3.50).

There were a number of other bistro-style lunch selections on the menu, as well as some interesting specials. Owned by a nutritionist, Fresh & Fabulous will prepare lunch boxes catered to customers’ specific dietary needs that they can take with them to eat at their offices. The restaurant also has a Saturday Tea Service from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“The tea service idea is genius,” said my friend, who lives and works in Downtown Ventura. ”I can’t wait for someone I know to get pregnant just so we can have a tea party shower. A place like this is much needed in Ventura.”

I concur.

One other thought. Ronald Reagan might roll over in his grave as I write this, but this real man does eat quiche.

Although I didn’t do so on this visit, I was enticed by the quiche menu, especially the tomato, onion and basil offering.

More importantly, I did have a chance to try dessert. My snickerdoodle was great — soft and just about what a snickerdoodle should be, and my companion’s pecan bar was “pretty damn tasty.”

The kicker, though, might be the carrot cake, which I brought back for another friend of mine who considers herself a connoisseur of the treat.

“Killer cake,” she said in a text message later. “I think the best I have had and not too sweet.”

I’d call that an endorsement.

Located in the historic Woolworth Building just two doors down from the up and coming Experimental Café, Fresh &

Fabulous brings to Oxnard a calm sophistication, but it is still affordable. My secret agent friend already mentioned the ambience, which was welcoming and cozy (with an emphasis on the cozy). I agree, and love this further example of the reuse of a historic building.