Tuesday, June 22, 2010
The Best-Ever Croque Monsieur
I love sandwiches.
When I am out to lunch, if there is a Tuna Melt on the menu, that's what I will order. In fact, a few years back I wrote an article that evaluated Tuna Melts in restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area.
My second favorite sandwich is the Croque Monsieur, a French version of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. And, what a version it is...traditionally, the filling is sliced ham and gruyere cheese, with some dijon mustard on the bread. The sandwich is grilled in a frying pan until the cheese melts. Then, it is topped with a layer of Bechamel sauce and set under the broiler until the sauce is bubbly. There are many variations on the Croque Monsieur and I enjoy most of them.
Last week I had a lunch date in Sausalito with Mary and Jane. When Mary suggested Le Garage,
where she said the food is French and there is marvelous outdoor seating overlooking the Bay, I couldn't wait to go there.
In anticipation, I checked Le Garage's menu on their web site and the Croque Monsieur immediately caught my attention.
There was no doubt about what I was going to order...not that I wasn't tempted by the Salade Nicoise or the Pan Bagnat.
Mary ordered Mussels and French Fries (Frites).
Jane went for the Salade Nicoise which was made with seared fresh tuna (to the restaurant's credit, our waiter asked Jane if seared tuna was OK for her. This is a big plus for me because, I like my fish cooked through and often experience disdain from my server when I request it so prepared).
Le Garage's Croque Monsieur was the best one I've ever eaten. And that includes very good versions in Brussels and all over France and even in the homes of French friends. Le Garage uses Brioche Bread and the cheese was perfectly melted. The sandwich was topped not only with Bechamel, but also with an added slice of cheese...absolute perfection!!!
We had a lovely visit and and a pleasant meal, all the while enjoyed the spectacular view.
No dessert for us, but, believe me, I am curious to try their Tarte Tatin on another visit.
After lunch, I stopped at the nearby Heath Ceramics factory and outlet, in hopes of snaring some seconds of their classic table ware. Their new summer designs, in shades of blue and yellow are beautiful, but there were no seconds in good enough condition for me to splurge on a bowl or pitcher.
Even at about 30% off for seconds, Health Ceramics pieces are fairly pricey. So...I need another lunch soon at Le Garage with a return trip to Heath in hopes of finding some treasures.
One final note: While I am raving about Le Garage, and it certainly is very popular despite its off-the-beaten path and away-from-tourists location, Mary later told me that she did not think her Mussels and Frites were as good as she has enjoyed in her past visits. I sampled both and had no complaints, so I guess you will have to try them yourself.