The Ultimate Croque Madame

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While the struggle for women’s equality has been slow going on the whole, I would like to point out two areas where things appear to be going quite swimmingly: chess and sandwiches.

Starting with chess, the Queen is hands down the best piece on the board. She can go wherever she wants, as far as she wants. And she’s worth nearly twice as many points as any other piece in the game. Whereas the king can only move one space in any direction, but only if that doesn’t put him in check. Lame.

So too is the croque monsieur when compared to a croquet madame. I mean sure, I love a ham and cheese as much as the next guy, but throw a fried egg on top and it’s like an edible ace of spades. But now that we know who wins in a head-to-head amongst croques, it begs the question, who wins amongst the madames? Or more ironically stated, who is the king of the madames?

 Craftbar – New York, NY

Sacrébleu! You need to stop whatever you are doing right now and roll your bones on over to Craftbar for this one. Yes, Tom Colicchio is the man behind the lady, serving up the most flawless madame since… I’m painting myself into a corner on this one, aren’t I? If I say my wife half of you will say “aww” and the other half will roll your eyes, my wife included. If I say Bo Derek, playing off the “10” thing, then I need to qualify that I am doing so only as a pop culture reference, because in terms of substance she was far from perfect. I could go Jolie or Elle McPherson who seem to have beauty and substance, but I am so far off topic right now it’s not even funny, so back to it.

What makes this croque rock is a perfect balance of textures. Too often I find inferior croques allow the oils from the gruyere and the ham to turn the bread to mush and there are few things in this world worse than a soggy croque. But due to the skillet cooking/serving vessel, Craft Bar manages to keep the bread nice and crunchy, so when you bite into it, those caramelized chunks of grilled bread break away, letting through a wave of gooey goodness from the egg yolk and the cheese. And just when you think you’ve hit cloud nine, apparently there’s a cloud ten, carrying with it the sweet, magical saltiness of the ham. It’s an absolute clinic on the values of simplicity and great ingredients. It’s also easily one of the best 10 sandwiches in New York City.

 

‘wichcraft

11 E 20th St. New York, NY 10003(212) 780-0577 • wichcraftnyc.com

Witchcraft

Sandwich gri la! This place kicks some serious derriére between two slices of bread. But I expect no less from Colicchio. My favorite sammies are the fried egg, frisée and gruyere, the roasted turkey avocado and bacon with onion relish and the heritage smoked ham- all three are choice. Granted sometimes they over cook the egg on the first one, so be sure to ask for it runny. Otherwise why even get it, am I right?

After that though, it can be a little more on the average side as the chicken sandwich, pastrami and meatloaf are all good but not great.

Other plusses- they do have seating upstairs and they are one of the few places left that stocks Grapefruit Fizzy Lizzy (a natural soda drink and personal fav of mine).

4 teeth

Craftbar

900 Broadway New York, NY 10003 • (212) 461-4300 • craftrestaurantsinc.com/craftbar-new-york

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I’ve actually been here at least 3 times prior (probably spanning over 10 years), but for some reason I just assumed I’d already reviewed it. Well, apparently not. So, making up for lost time, let me first say that all three visits were between good and great. But because I don’t even remember what I had the other times, I’m only going to talk about my last visit for lunch.

So, based on a friends resounding commendation of their veal meatball parm (sorta pictured), I found myself once again at Craftbar, prepared to like it, but… That said, the “but” never came. I mean, these meatballs are so moist and delicious you almost want to go around punching every other meatball parm in the face for daring to share its name.

But that was only the half of it, and I mean that because I only had half of the sandwich. Yes, that’s right, I did splitsies. The other sandwich was the Cubano. And ¡Dios Mio! Is it fargin awesome! Haven’t had a Cuban this good since West Branch closed down (RIP).

Even the cheese plate app was a nice beginning (and end) to the meal.

Plus, service was solid. Accommodating and quick. And the décor is nice. Not quite as nice as Craft, but that’s kind of the point, to be a step down from the flagship- which is even more awesome if you’ve never been. One of my favorites in the city for years.

Great to see this place is as solid as ever over a decade later.

4 teeth

Craft

43 E 19th St. New York, NY 10003(212) 780-0880 craftrestaurant.com

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Tom Colicchio is the man. He just is. Every thing he touches turns to edible gold. I mean not one restaurant of his has been bad or over-hyped. That’s hard to pull off when you start spreading yourself so thin. Just ask Batali or Bobby Flay.

But among Colicchio’s many successes, Craft is his crown jewel and one of my favorite restaurants in all of NYC. Everything is on point, from it’s very cool decor to it’s excellent food and terrific service. But what really sets this place apart is the way in which they prepare things. Everything is a la carte, and everything stands on its own.

They are all about keeping it simple, from the lighting to the plate, nothing is overdone. But not to worry- the flavor is there in spades. In fact, something as simple as mashed potatoes are taken to an art form here. I have never tasted better. Their fish is always cooked to perfection and the wine list is also top notch.

If you can’t get in, I also highly recommend Craft Bar. Not quite as good as Craft, but better than most places you could wind up.

5 teeth

The Ultimate Mashed Potatoes

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Craft – New York, NY

I don’t know how they do it, but Craft’s mashed potatoes are so brilliant they rival the discovery of uranium. Okay, so I know how they do it. Lots of cream and butter and whipping, but stay with the fantasy for now, because these taters are truly the stuff of fairy tales. Whipped so light and so smooth you would almost swear they figured out a way to make silk edible.