La Maison du Croque Monsieur: Greenwich Village, New York

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Greenwich Village, New York

Having just returned from sampling croque monsieurs and a good number of croque madames at virtually every cafe in Paris (Cafe de Flore, Deux Magots, Cafe Le Select and Cafe de la Paix to name a few), I was stoked about le grande opening of La Maison du Croque Monsieur in my own backyard on East 13th.

Brought to you by the nice folks behind the Petite Abeille Belgian restaurant chain, I was looking forward to authentic croque monsieurs. A true croque monsieur (the feminine croque madame being distinguished by the addition of a fried ovum on top) is grilled bread with jambon de Paris, meltingly nutty gruyere and that mother of all white sauces... bechamel, made from the sensual commingling of milk and roux. The ham, cheese and sauce envelop the toast both inside and outside.

To call it "French grilled cheese" would be the equivalent of denigrating its fellow and more familiar French crepe by comparing it to the stuff sold at IHOP. I had high expectations for La Maison du Croque Monsieur, most of which were met. The single disappointment was that for expediency, less mess and to facilitate take out, the ingredients were relegated only to the inside with the outer toast being grilled and pressed like a panini or, dare I say it, grilled cheese. However, the ingredients were happily authentic with the toast barely containing the drippy white cheese and bechamel mixture which completely coated the jambon de Paris. In fact, by rolling the toast in the drippings in the quaint wooden atelier-like dining room upstairs, my initial disappointment was washed away by the bechamel sauce.

My narrow purist authentic traditional croque monsieur universe was also quickly expanded with the additional choice of other French cheeses besides gruyere. One cannot quibble with the possibility of substituting comte or raclette for example. There are also meat variations in lieu of jambon de Paris such as bresaola, pork and even turkey which I expect to get around to eventually as well as a croque madame "eggstravaganza". I let my French guard down entirely to try a dessert croque of banana,nutella and mascarpone which would have made even Elvis shout in his best French accent "La Maison du Croque Monsieur: C'est Bon!"

What a Croque

People didn’t understand. They gave you funny looks. They hid their sandwiches around you.

But we’re here to reassure you: you’re a visionary. Never change. Don’t lose that sandwich-inspired spark we love so much.

And get yourself to this place as soon as possible.

Carve out an inappropriately long lunch at La Maison du Croque Monsieur, a happy little bi-level house of the buttery French sandwichry known as a croque, soft-opening this weekend in the Village.

Our French is a little rusty, but we think this roughly translates to “the house of the man croque.” Which is weird, definitely. But don’t let that stop you from ingesting grilled gruyère, ham and bread with béchamel at a startling pace.

Because that’s what a croque is—basically a grilled ham-and-cheese, with some French touches and a bunch of different riffs. Like the croque-madame, which slaps a fried egg on top of the whole deal. Proust wrote about them. That’s another croque fact right there.

At this place, you’ve also got a smoked-mozzarella-with-bresaola option. And you’ll eat it in a space that looks like a library, because, why not. Card catalogs and slotted desks with the afternoon sun beaming through a tree upstairs. That’s where you’ll want to be, by the way—upstairs.

La Maison du Croque Monsieur: Greenwich Village, New York - Recipes

in our neighborhood. we go here often for breakfast and love watching the sparrows in the tree out front. coffee is great--wish the food measured up to it. the croques seem as if they were made ahead of time, so not very fresh and the cheese seems pre sliced , not high quality.

26 - 30 of 50 reviews

The place is small but nice, the ambient is cozy and familiar with innovative touch in the menu presentation, the bakery seems delicious but I didn't tried, I've try a veggie croque with cheese , it was little spicy as the worker told me , but the breed was not fresh making it hard to eat.

We visited the cafe on Lexington as it was right by our hotel! Good for breakfast, great toasted sandwiches and fresh juice! Really cool place - wish I'd found it sooner in our trip :)

Nice friendly staff, good sandwiches with proper names - I personally loved both Mr Antonin & Mr Rupert. Cooked well and very tasty. The prices could be cheaper, in my opinion, it wouldn't harm neither the quality or appeal of the food.

As a sandwich place, it was quite good but not for a Croque place as advertised. My sandwich was not grilled long enough to melt the cheese. It was tasty and the bread was wonderful but not what you would get in Paris. The selection of sandwiches was reasonable and they served Pellegrino sodas, so we had a tasty meal, just not a very authentic meal. Also, seating is very limited.

Most Read

Hicks' inventive croques are matched only by Jadot and Benenati's literary naming system. Inspired by the building's history — it was once home to Anaïs Nin — the duo decided to match the 12 variations to a man from the writer's life: Mr. Henry (the classic croque) after Henry Miller and Mr. Gore (the Italian croque) after Gore Vidal.

Nin is honored as the croque madame, a croque monsieur served with a fried egg, and the menu's only female name.

"All those people are related to her," says Benenati. "She couldn't get published so she [got] a manual-powered printing press and made her own books. That was the inspiration for our designer Delphine Mauroit, so the shop looks like a little printing plant and has a midcentury, industrial look. It's a tribute to the history of this place."

La Maison du Toasted Cheese

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.

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

The tall narrow building once housed the Japanese-European tea house Te Adore.

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One-Dish Wonders: 9 Ridiculous Single-Item Food Slingers

Although Crumbs Bake Shop announced it’d be closing all its stores in July, investors swooped in at the last minute and announced more than half the cupcake chain’s locations would reopen beginning in September.

In 2014, it’s hard to believe a shop that exists solely to push cupcakes in flavors like apple cobbler and caramel macchiato still exists. Then again, these nine outrageous one-dish businesses are all still in business.

Because FACT: The best way to eat Nutella is out of the jar, with a spoon.

Bread pudding > rice pudding ALL DAY LONG. That being said, this rice pudding shop has been around since early 2003, before things like the iTunes Music Store existed. They must be doing something right?

Located in what used to be Anaïs Nin’s house in Greenwich Village, this unitasker serves nothing but variations on the ham and cheese sandwich, named for Nin’s lovers. No love for the croque madame? Because if I named sandwiches after former lovers, I’d at least make sure each had a slutty, barely cooked egg on top.

This Manhattan shop sells pudding in flavors ranging from chocolate to tapioca to lemon. Personally, I’ll never hear the word pudding and not think of these.

Holy cannoli! This New York cart-turned-storefront serves only, well, you know what.

Off the Menu

CENTER BAR This spot in the fourth-floor lobby of the Time Warner Center was once a wine bar that failed. Now Michael Lomonaco, whose Porter House New York is a nearby magnet for diners, is trying his hand at the space, which he sees as a place for those who want less than a full steak-focused menu, or who may even be waiting for a table in his steakhouse. The wine list offers 100 choices selected by Brad Nugent there are cocktails by James Moreland and a menu featuring small plates (charcuterie, oysters, stuffed piquillo peppers) and a few entrees, including giant prawns and slow-cooked halibut. (Opens Thursday): 10 Columbus Circle, (212) 823-9500.

DELLAROCCO’S The wood-fired pizzas here come in three varieties: red, white and salad. The owners, Greg and Glenn Markman and Joseph Secondino, who also own Heights Cafe, hired Pasquale Cozzolino from PizzArte to make the pies: 214 Hicks Street (Montague Street), Brooklyn Heights, (718) 858-1010.

FELICE This financial-district branch of the Upper East Side Tuscan wine bar-restaurants has 50 seats on the ground floor and a wine lounge upstairs. (Wednesday): 15 Gold Street (Platt Street), (212) 785-5950.

IL MULINO NEW YORK UPTOWN The iconic Greenwich Village restaurant, which has nine branches in the United States and one in Tokyo, has opened another, closer to home: 37 East 60th Street, (212) 750-3270.

LA MAISON DU CROQUE MONSIEUR There is a world of difference between a grilled cheese sandwich and its French cousin, the croque monsieur, which comes topped with a slather of béchamel sauce. Alberto Benenati and Yves Jadot have come up with more than a dozen variations in this little takeout place, which has a few tables on the upstairs level. They also serve a croque madame, made with egg: 17 East 13th Street, (212) 675-2227.

LE MIDI East 13th Street between Fifth Avenue and University Place has suddenly become a dining hub, with five restaurants and more to come. This newcomer is a partnership between a couple of financial backers and Tina Vaughn and her husband, Chip Smith, the chef, who met when they were working at Larry Forgione’s American Place. It has a country-French bistro menu without the cane chairs and vintage posters. The place is sleek and slightly industrial, as befits a space that was once a loading dock, but takes on atmosphere when the lights are low. Mr. Smith, who also worked with Jean-Louis Palladin in Washington, has a fairly concise seasonal menu featuring seared sweetbreads, a terrine of the day, roast chicken, hanger steak with shallot confit and arctic char. The menu crosses the Channel for dessert, with a sticky toffee pudding. The wines come from the portfolio of Neal Rosenthal: 11 East 13 Street, (212) 255-8787.

LINKS Brendan Spiro, who owned Vandaag and is now a consultant, has set up this 20-seat nook for eating in and taking out. Seven kinds of sausages, made all over the city, are served with toppings, beers and ciders on draft and wines by the half-bottle. (Friday): 188 Allen Street (Houston Street), (212) 460-9383.

Five Weeknight Dishes

Emily Weinstein has menu suggestions for the week. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.

    • This coconut fish and tomato bake from Yewande Komolafe yields a gorgeous, silky ginger-coconut sauce.
    • A tasty recipe for sheet-pan chicken and potatoes by Lidey Heuck is really nice without being fussy.
    • This vegetarian baked Alfredo pasta with broccoli rabe is inspired by pasta Alfredo, but with green vegetables added.
    • Kay Chun adds asparagus and snap peas to spring vegetable japchae in this vegan take on the classic dish.
    • You could substitute chicken or another type of fish in this summery grilled salmon salad from Melissa Clark.

    SUSHI MASARU Fairly straightforward sushi, sashimi, rolls and a few entrees are fashioned by Henry Yang, who worked at Bond St., and Kenji Zensho, formerly of Sushi Samba. (Monday): 169 Eighth Avenue (19th Street), (212) 627-8887.

    TERROIR PARK SLOPE Paul Grieco and Marco Canora now have a Brooklyn branch of their chain of wine bars. This one has 74 seats and will serve bar snacks like pretzels, peanuts, hot dogs and its version of Cracker Jacks, in homage to the memory of Ebbets Field. Pork ragù bruschetta and Korean-style short ribs are among the new dishes: 284 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn, no phone.

    Chef on the Move

    YOUNGSUN LEE, who attracted attention at Persimmon in the East Village and had been involved with Kimchi Taco, is now the chef at The Queens Kickshaw in Astoria. “Not much Korean or Asian influence on the food here,” he said of Kickshaw, where the menu is vegan and vegetarian. “Good thing I know something about Korean Temple cuisine, which is totally vegan,” he said.

    Looking Ahead

    SWEETGREEN Nicolas Jammet, whose parents, André and Rita Jammet, owned the legendary La Caravelle, opened the first of these sustainable organic cafes in Washington when he and his partners were undergraduates at Georgetown. Now they have a dozen in the Washington area, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and are about to bring their salads and wraps to the NoMad area in the spring: 1164 Broadway (28th Street).

    BUBBY’S The branch in Dumbo, Brooklyn, will close on Oct. 27, with weekend brunch the only meal served until then. The owners are looking for a new location.

    Eats Beat: Mimi Cheng's dumpling bar opens in the East Village

    Mimi Cheng's, a new Taiwanese dumpling bar in the East Village, is a family affair. Opened by sisters Hannah and Marian Cheng, it's named after their mother Shirley (Mimi is her nickname). The restaurant, at 179 Second Ave., opened Thursday and has three permanent dumplings on the menu: their mother's chicken and zucchini recipe pork with baby bok choy and cabbage and a veggie dumpling with kale, zucchini, egg and shiitake mushrooms (six for $8, or eight for $10). There will be a rotating savory dumpling, as well as a rotating market vegetable and dessert dumpling. The meat is sustainably raised and locally sourced, and most ingredients are organic. The eatery's interior has a beach house feel, with white reclaimed wood and reggae music playing.

    Kings County Bar — which recently closed due to a rent hike and was known for its infamous Smallest Penis in Brooklyn Pageant — is being reborn in a new location with a new name, Kings County Saloon. The bar will open Friday at 1 Knickerbocker Ave. in Bushwick, in a space that was formerly the restaurant 1 Knickerbocker. Jesse Levitt — who owned both Kings County Bar and 1 Knickerbocker — brings us Kings County Saloon. The large speakeasy-style spot will serve casual fare like a ground brisket and short rib burger ($12), Buffalo wings ($13) and kale salad with an almond curry dressing ($14).

    Is summer's scorching weather making you crabby? Cool off with Flying Dog's Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale. Brewmaster Matt Brophy worked with McCormick, the spice company that owns Old Bay — the popular crab seasoning — to create a brew to celebrate the spice blend's 75th anniversary. The beer (about $10 for a six-pack) is light with citrus hops, and has the aroma of Old Bay, with notes of mustard, paprika, bay leaf and black pepper, but only a slight Old Bay flavor. The Daily News sampled a few bottles and, save one taster, unanimously approved. "It's a sip of summertime," said one tester, craving a lobster roll." The beer, brewed about an hour outside of Baltimore, pairs well with Maryland crabs.

    New To The Neighborhood: Greenwich Village Is All About Location, Location, Location

    When graphic designer Nico Guillermo moved into his studio apartment in Greenwich Village, just blocks away from Union Square, light and space were two of his biggest priorities. After purchasing his studio apartment, he removed a wall in the apartment that blocked light coming from the windows in order to to create a single, open space. Motioning to one wall featuring built-in shelves mounted against the exposed brick, he says in tearing down the existing wall “we discovered [what used to be] two huge windows.” Another building has since been built against those windows, but they’ve found a new purpose as beautiful frames for the shelves.

    (Photographs by Kaitlyn Flannagan/New York Observer)

    Guillermo chose the neighborhood in part because he was in search of a studio that had something special.

    “There were a lot of cookie cutter, boring studios around here, he says. “I wanted something with potential.” In addition to removing the wall and exposing the brick, he created extra height in the bathroom by removing the existing ceiling to expose the pipes.

    His artist’s eye is also evident in the artwork covering the walls.

    “This is from a great print shop on the west side…they sell all these vintage posters,” he says, indicating a Dutch theater poster from 1969. It’s perhaps a nod to his heritage, as he grew up in Holland, where his mother is originally from, before emigrating with her to the States. Later, his mother lived in New York and he would visit her on the Upper East Side, creating a desire in him to one day return to the city. After eight years of living in Florida, he finally returned to Manhattan, where he’s lived for nearly a year.

    Before moving into his Greenwich Village apartment he was renting on Chrystie and Stanton, in an area he loved, but his new neighborhood has plenty to recommend it as well.

    “It’s so centrally located here,” Guillermo says. An explorer at heart, it’s an asset to be able to easily travel uptown, downtown, or hop on the L to Williamsburg.

    “I kind of venture out,” he says of his preferred way to experience the city. “[But there are] a couple places around here I really like.” Favorites include La Maison du Croque Monsieur on 13th street and Tortaria on University Place. He also liked to venture further east, to The Smith on Third Avenue. He has a standing soccer date with friends at Sara Delano Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side, and so for post-game drinks so he prefers East Village spots like Sweet and Vicious or Tom and Jerry’s.

    Closer to home, New York institution Strand Books is an obvious favorite (Guillermo even has a small pillow with the Strand logo resting on his coffee table).

    “I’m still kind of getting to know it,” he says of the city in general. “[Greenwich Village] is a great place to get to know New York because I can just kind of explore it all.” In contrast to the touristy bustle of Union Square proper, his street is quiet, at a welcome remove from the madness.

    “If you were on the Lower East Side [for example], he says, “[There are] a lot of young kids running around.” Though a bustling nightlife scene has its advantages, at home, “I like to just have peace and quiet,” he says. His bright, airy apartment certainly fits the bill.

    “I’m relieved to be back in New York, it’s the best place for me,” he says. As for who he thinks might be best suited for life in Greenwich Village, he thinks the right person is “Someone who doesn’t easily categorize themselves in [one] kind of demographic box.” From families to international transplants to young professionals, the Village has something for everyone.

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