The croque-monsieur doesn’t typically get much respect.
It is, after all, merely a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. But when it’s prepared correctly, it becomes so much more than that. The croque-monsieur at Bistro Papillote is a perfect example.
Never in the long history of sandwich-making has there been a better argument for simplicity – and for the use of really good cheese and high-quality bread. This sandwich is so incredibly basic, made with only four ingredients: Gruyere, sourdough, Black Forest ham and béchamel. When working so purely, if the ingredients aren’t great, nor will be the sandwich.
But when the quality of those building blocks is superb, the sandwich becomes a revelation. The croque-monsieur at Papillote is a work of art.
We can never discount the chef’s technique, of course. And the chef/owner of this cute new bistro at SoCo is Laurent Brazier, owner and instructor at La Cuisine, a local French culinary academy that I had never heard of before Papillote opened.
He’s certainly got my attention now.
This article originally appeared in the Orange County Register. To view more of my work for the Register, check out the archives. I also invite you to follow me and join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.