Located in a newly constructed industrial area of Surrey is Connect Café. A not so obvious location, in an area that is still being developed, so you need to know, to know to go.
Our visit came with a lot of promise, although it did not quite deliver. Although, before I get into all the reasons why, I want to start off by asking those who are reading, to take this review with a grain of salt. The reality is our visit coincided with Connect’s official cafe opening, a period of any restaurant or business’ timeline that requires trial and error work through, plus time and resources to figure out and fine tune. This is when you uncover hiccups that you are able to address during a trial run or soft open. Therefore, my documented experience today may not be your truth, if and when you decide to visit.
The café itself is lovely and spacious with plenty of natural lighting and soft colours, to invite you in and have you staying for longer. I liked the chosen pallet of pastel greens, pinks, blues, and oranges but felt that the mediums used were a little scattered. For example, the café’s font choice and linear design contrasted with the hand drawn mural still under construction. And its design of free-flowing flowers and plant life opposed the geometric themed paintings that hung on the wall. Both were much like how the tabletop surfaces in marble and upholstered chairs with gold framing, contrasted the simple IKEA branded plate wear and disposable cutlery we were served.
On one hand, it felt like they were trying to elevate the decor, but on the other hand, save money where they can. And sadly, this contrasting vision would carry on to the cuisine in a battle of appearance versus taste.
I commend them for making everything they serve in-house, however I found everything a little off. The drinks fell flat, made with one tone and one taste. The iced coffee and latte the others ordered tasted like they used watered down beans, and could have afforded a longer roasting or longer steeping.
I chose the fun Kashmiri Pink chai in hot and this was nothing like chai tea, not even a variation on it as there was no spice, no ginger, and no heat. This specialty beverage tasted like it looked, overly sweet pink bubble gum. Although I did appreciate learning how they achieved its rosy hue. Apparently the colouring is from a reaction between baking soda and ginger.
The macrons were probably the best item we had. A little larger than their standard size, but not necessarily in a good way. Their crispy shell and soft centre were as expected, but each one lacked their promised flavour of Mango, Earl grey, Chocolate, and/or Strawberry; so were more or less sugary pucks.
All the tarts were beautifully uniform, but off. All pre-made in-house and kept at the ready behind refrigerated glass where the cakes, tarts and pastries were all made hard. The cold gave them a texture that required leverage and force to dig wooden fork into. Whereas for dessert, most people prefer a gentler approach, an easy scoop and release action. After the struggle and a tiny taste, I was done with each.
The Caramel and milk tart was crowned with stale hazelnuts that tasted old. They could have used a nice roasting and some additional nut or Nutella flavour to enhance the chocolate base.
Similarly, we could not crack through the Chocolate espresso tart. The centre was dense and hard, and the crust much the same. And not being able to get through this meant I really didn’t get a good taste of the dessert.
We were at least able to tackle the Pomegranate Swiss roll which was much easier to break into. We penetrated this thick frosted shell with a crack. Although I found very little cake within and even less fruit filling. This had the most promise and therefore was the most disappointing. Too much frosting sugar made this too sweet. All I tasted was white chocolate with not enough jam-my gel to help balance and no sponge cake to act as a base.
And therefore, when the savoury portion of our meal came to the table, I was ecstatic. It would have been nice to start with this, although, in hindsight, I guess it doesn’t really matter. This was their Crispy chicken sandwich served as a heavily toasted panini that at least looked good. The chicken was okay on its own, but as part of a sandwich it needed more tangy sauce as a lubricating agent. But the main issue with the bread itself. It was hard, dense and crusty, as if the yeast in it did not rise during the baking process. Therefore, the first bite in it’s not as expected or as desired, to say the least.
The countertop butter Croissant had the same effect. It looked good under the glass cloche, but when it came time to rip into it, it was a struggle. Not fluffy and airy like you want your croissant to be.
Connect’s summer drink collection fared a little better in our eyes. Vibrant colours and sweet fruit flavours like Butterfly pea flower purple with lychee and lemon. Personally, a little too sweet for my tastes, especially with the coconut jelly at the bottom, but it is still a great drink option overall.
Between the two, I preferred the Dirty Matcha latte with coffee jelly. Less sugar and two great flavours that I wouldn’t image would work so well together like this. By comparison these drinks fared better than the food.
At this time in point I definitely would not write them off. Once again this is a new café. They’re still working things out, hopefully taking feedback (such as this review) and adjusting, so I’m sure in three months’ time, my experience today will not be the same as yours (if you decide to visit). I look forward to returning to see if my premonition is true.
ConnectCafe | Surrey Cafe| Bubble Tea| ice Cream|
6638 152A St #115, Surrey, BC V3S 5X5, Canada