Having grown up on a diet that consisted entirely of American classics with a visit to The Spaghetti Warehouse thrown in every now and then for a little foreign culture, the croque-madame was an entirely new thing to me when I tried one for the first time a couple of years ago.
I mean, it’s basically a grilled cheese sandwich. Except with fancy cheese that happens to be melted on top. And a big, ol’ slab of ham in the middle. And an egg over the whole thing. It’s so savory and decadent that French law should prohibit their being eaten more than once a year.
I’ve had really excellent ones here in NYC at L’Orange Bleue and La Silhouette, but my favourite so far is from the brunch menu at Pastis in the Meatpacking District:
I was actually torn about ordering it, thinking maybe I should get one of the less-traditional egg preparations, but there’s really no messing with perfection, and perfection is bread with cheese, ham, and egg. Everyone at the table agreed mine was the best dish ordered, and half of it went to people needing to try “just a taste”.
It’s a little pricey at $16 with nothing on the side, and of course the place is ridiculous to get into, but well, sometimes I’m willing to suffer for food. Especially when that food is like the pizza of breakfast.
9 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10014 (map)