The toasted cheese is perfectly executed, but expect to pay for it.
Serving single products in general, and limiting oneself to toasted-cheese sandwiches in particular, has been a common meme of urban dining, both in small storefronts and vended from trucks. So the menu of newly opened La Maison du Croque Monsieur doesn’t qualify as revolutionary, consisting of a dozen or so cheese, cheese-meat, and cheese-meat-fruit griddled permutations using overlapping combinations of ingredients.
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The upstairs dining room is warmly lit and decorated with orchids and old typewriters.
As you already know if you’ve been to France, a croque monsieur is a ham and cheese sandwich that, in some of its more interesting forms, has been batter-dipped and fried in butter or sometimes just smothered in béchamel.
Although La Maison’s sandwiches are expertly executed, they barely seem like croque monsieurs, but more like plain old American toasted-cheese sandwiches.
The signature sandwich, dubbed “Mr. Henry,” features lean and mild Paris ham and your choice of cheeses. Fork in the Road picked Gruyere as being the most appropriate to such a sandwich, but you could also get Comté, Gouda, raclette, and chimay — none of which fall too far from the Gruyere, taste-wise — and something called tickler cheddar. Why? Does it make you laugh?
The sandwich is a carefully crafted toasted cheese, but we’d have to say it’s a bit meager at $7.75 plus tax, and you’d certainly need two to fill up. So let’s call it snack size. We tried another sandwich, Mr. Otto, which featured roast pork, poached pear, and the aforementioned tickler cheddar. While being once again perfectly prepared (one side is hatched with grill marks, the other looks like it has been in a conventional toaster), it still failed to kindle much enthusiasm. The bread is fine, the meat is fine, the cheese is fine, but somehow it doesn’t add up to anything amazing.
But then, what did you expect from a toasted cheese?
La Maison du Croque Monsieur
17 East 13th Street
Meet Mr. Otto
The tall narrow building once housed the Japanese-European tea house Te Adore.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 23, 2012