The whole gourmet sandwich craze with the back-to-back-to-back openings of Meat & Bread, the Dirty Apron and Big Lou's is taking the Downtown core by storm. If you take Finch's, Re-Up, all the Vietnamese Banh Mi shops, La Ghianda, Las Tortas, La Grotta Del Formaggio, Chez Meme and Thomas Haas into consideration, there is much choice to be had. However, there hasn't been much noise made out in Surrey other than La Charcuterie, Veneto's and the Salt Cellar (and Estrella's in Langley). Why Surrey? Personally, I feel there is no love given to the next biggest city other than Vancouver proper in the GVRD. Yah, Surrey is always the butt of jokes and lets not even mention what people think of the culinary scene. By virtue of eating out in Surrey quite a few times in the last 5 years, I have gained an appreciation for the diversity and surprising gems that are not known to people other than the locals.
That would describe Be 'wiched Cafe to a T. When I first pulled up to the place in the same complex as the Big Ridge Brewing Company, it really didn't seem like I could find great sandwiches there. Little more than a small coffee shop, the place is deceiving. Inside its modest digs is a place where almost everything is made from scratch. As I waited for my order, I noticed how all the customers walking in were greeted personally. Repeat customers, a clear sign that they are doing something right. From their diverse choices of sandwiches, I decided to try the Cubano for myself. Now, whenever we see any attempt at a Cubano up here, it is generally disappointing (see Havana). Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be pretty good. It was the classic combination of roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles on ciabatta then pressed. I added a Clam Chowder as a side and that was good as well. It was not a creamy chowder; rather it was more of a broth. I liked how it wasn't heavy and had a subtle clam taste. The veggies were vibrant while being soft and there was plenty of tender clam meat.
To get a better sense of the place, I got 2 more sandwiches to go starting with the Corned Beef. Made in-house, the meat was tender and moist. Nice flavour too. For the price, they were not shy with the amount of it either. Now for the star of the show - the Pulled Pork Sandwich. I thought I was ruined for any other pulled pork sandwich after Re-Up. This changed my mind. The house-made pulled pork was melt-in-your-mouth soft while exhibiting a certain level of smokiness. The bold apple-butter BBQ sauce was both sweet and tart. The acidity and crunch of the coleslaw was a perfect compliment to the sweet sauce and moist meat. Although the bun looked like it was from Costco, it was nothing like it in texture. Firm enough to stand up to the ingredients while soft enough that it didn't destroy the sandwich in one bite, it was perfect. In fact, everything that I tried was very good. What a pleasant surprise. I can't wait to go back.
And guess what? I did go back, with Mijune no less. She loves this place too and it's a whole lot easier to tackle it with 2 appetites. One of the specials of the day was the Pulled Pork Chili. Apparently this is not available all the time. I hazard a guess that if there is any pulled pork left over, then it goes into the chili. But since their pulled pork sandwich is so popular, there are not many chances we will find leftovers. So consider us lucky to try this hearty chili. Essentially consisting of meat and little else other than a few token kidney beans, this was very filling. The flavour was not "hit-you-in-the-face"; rather it was subtle and there was an underlying heat that showed up at the end. We could definitely taste the elements of a regular chili; but it was amped by the considerable amount of meat.
The last time I was here, I really wanted to try their breakfast items. Too bad there was one of me and 20+ items on the menu. This time, Mijune and I split the Breakfast Burrito to start. It consisted of a whole wheat tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, bacon, jack cheese, peppers and salsa. As you can clearly see in the picture, the whole thing was a bit wet. That made it messy to eat and soggy in texture. The individual components were prepared find, especially the fluffy eggs; however, I found it to be somewhat bland and uninteresting. Maybe more kick? A combination of hot sauce and tomatillo might do the trick.
Alright. This is what we were really here for... The Stuffed Apple Pie French Toast. This dessert-like breakfast item is comprised of apple butter and cream cheese sandwiched in between 2 slices of brioche dipped in egg custard and coated in granola. The result is an almost decadent breakfast item. Despite the wet ingredients, the whole thing works. The granola provides a nice crunch which gives way to the soft brioche and sweet cream cheese filling. I didn't even need the syrup to eat this. Yet, with a slight drizzle, it really made the thing sing. I'm not a fan of sweets; but I do like this. On the topic of sweets, we were presented with some Lemon Citrus Bars and hey, they had me at lemon... It's like they knew the only desserts I get excited for are lemon ones. Wow, the lemon curd in this was intense. Very tart with a sweet finish, it works well with the toasted coconut on top. One of the best I've had. The last thing we tried was the Chocolate Caramel Cookie. Think of it as a chocolate cookie with the Caramilk filling. The cookie itself had a nice crisp exterior that gave way to a moist interior. There was a rich cocoa flavour that was kicked up a notch by the runny caramel in the centre. Very good. I'll say it again. This place rocks. Sure, not everything is killer; but most of it is. It would put most other similar shops to shame if it were located in Vancouver.
- Personable proprietors
- Practically everything is made in-house
- Not skimpy with the meat
- Location is not really close for most people, other than the locals (but please go try it!)
- It's small, mostly takeout