Croque Monsieur is French Grilled Cheese, But Is It A Better Value?


I have to admit that I’m skeptical of grilled cheese places. Why would I pay close to $10 for some bread and cheese, especially when I can just as easily make it at home. Even if there’s meat or some special sauce, it usually comes out to being way overpriced.

Yet I can always be convinced to try tasting some grilled cheese in the name of science so when Karen reported that Croque Monsieur was expanding to Midtown, I headed over to the East Side as soon as it opened, preparing myself for disappointment.


Croque Monsieur took over the old Rickshaw Dumpling space (which has sat empty for over a year) and keeps the quarters just as tight. While there are about four claustrophobic bar stools, it’s basically a take-out joint with lines out the door (not because it was busy, but because it’s that small).


The menu listed a large number of vegetarian, house, and classic croques all with different male names and all under $10. There is also a nice selection of breakfast sandwiches, pastries, and coffees. I was tempted to start with the classic but Mr. Eduardo called my name. He had smoked mozzarella, truffle oil, and bresaoloa. Those are some of my favorite flavors, so I had to give in.


They seemed to have their system down and the sandwich came out without too much of a wait. I turned down the option for a combo which buys you different sides (soups, salads, chips, or cole slaw) but all cost over $10 and none include a drink. I soon realized that’s how you had to play if you wanted a filling meal here.


The Mr. Eduardo was more like a toasted cheese sandwich than a true grilled cheese. Amy’s Sourdough bread was nice and thick and it even had grill marks on it, but it was not anywhere near crisp or buttery. It was easy to pick apart the sandwich and the ingredients didn’t really stick together.


That being said, the components were fresh and flavorful. I really loved the combination of the salty, meaty bresaola and the creamy, smoky mozzarella. But there were not enough slices to make it a complete meal. It was all rather delicate and thin. The truffle oil was subtle but added a nice touch.


I also don’t think the advertised béchamel ended up between the bread (or if it did, it was a very light hand). The sandwich was a bit dry and would have been helped by a rich sauce of some kind to truly enhance what I was hoping to be a decadent French grilled cheese.

Croque Monsieur is almost there. The ingredients are good and the flavor combinations are exciting, but the value for this glorified cheese sandwich is still a bit lacking.

 Croque Monsieur, 459 Lexington (at 45th St.), 646-678-3670


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