BRADENTON – Like many of the area’s downtown restaurants, the Connection Café offers an array of foods such as pressed Cubans, wraps, and salads, but if you want something a little different than the norm, try the chef’s specialty: crepes
It’s okay if you’ve never tried them. In fact, my first experience was on my first visit to the restaurant just a few weeks ago. I was in the mood to try something different besides the usual hot dogs, burgers and pizza, that while satisfying for a quick and convenient lunch, can grow a bit stale without some occasional variety.
On this particular day, I scrolled through the various menus posted on the break room fridge and saw one that included crepes. This could be worth trying, I thought to myself. I only knew of them as dessert dishes and honestly had no idea you could eat them for breakfast or lunch like the menu suggested.
I dialed up and ordered a savory crepe called the Fontina, thinking I couldn’t go wrong with ingredients like turkey breast, fontina cheese, spinach and mushrooms.
|Di Pollo Crepe|
I walked into the café and a nice woman processed my order and a man with a heavy accent came out from the back to ask my name. I told him and then he repeated it back to me beautifully, which isn't always the case. He told me that he was the chef and hoped that I enjoy my food, which I found a welcome dose of attentiveness.
By the encounter alone, I felt welcome, and hoped I could put the charming little cafe into my lunchtime rotation. But first, I had to try the food.
I didn’t know what to expect when I opened the container but what I found was a gorgeously shaped, buckwheat crepe with salad and cucumbers on the side. The plate looked very appetizing and I dug in. The crepe was nothing like I’d imagined, and I was pleasantly surprised. It was fresh and the texture was soft and warm. The meat and cheese meshed well with the salad as I dug my fork in for more.
|The Pescadore Crepe|
When you walk into the Connection Café, you’ll be greeted with a sincere smile by the chef and owner, John “Yianni” Zouroudis. The Greek chef moved to America in 1980 and lived in both Iowa and New York before settling in Florida in 1990.
Zouroudis has been in the food business for 34 years and opened the café just this April. He named the restaurant the Connection Café as an homage to Cuban, French, and Greek foods that inspire his menu.
Zouroudis loves to cook and he appreciates each customer. “I care about the customer,” he told me. “When I cook, I cook for this particular customer. I don’t care how busy I am. When you come to my restaurant, I will cook for you.”
If you want to experience the delectable dish, there are many versions available. The Connection Café offers breakfast crepes such as La Basic (cheese, egg, ham or salami), Southwest (cheese, egg, avocado, jalapenos, tomatoes, and sour cream) along with many others.
|Pressed Cuban with hash brown casserole|
Interested in lunch? Try one of their 15 savory lunch crepes. La Paris (cheese, chicken, spinach, sweet red pepper, and feta cheese). Turkey a la Brie (roasted turkey, creamy Brie and tomatoes). Al Mare (shrimp, scallops, sweet red onions, tomatoes in a white wine sauce, garlic, cheese).
Sweet crepes include: La Prima Donna (Nutella). Saxophone (honey, banana and fresh strawberries). Hot Feeling (sugar, butter and cinnamon).
Other dishes include: pressed Cubans, salads, wraps, pressed Paninis, soups and sides such as (black beans and rice, sweet plantains and potato salad). Prices are mostly in the $6-8 range.
The Connection Café
1207 3rd Ave West, Bradenton, FL 34205.
Hours: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Delivery from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.