Date: August 28, 2016
Cost: $15.50, comes with mixed greens and frites and two adorable little pickles.
I had been hearing about the Sardine brunch for some time, particularly the bloody mary, and realized it was finally the right time to go. The weather was perfect for a bike ride and the proximity to my next destination, the Orton Park Festival, lined up. Timing is everything. Brunch me up, Sardine!
I don't have a photo of the menu but their web site has all the info:
CROQUE MADAME with Bayonne ham, gruyère cheese, béchamel, egg served with mixed greens and frites. (I think the printed menu listed the egg as "sunny side up").
The Sandwich - Croque Madame. First of all, Croque Madame is as fun to say as Moons Over My Hammy, but for completely different reasons. I probably pronounced it wrong anyway. The server did ask if the sunny side up egg was going to be OK, obviously she is not one of my loyal readers and has not grown weary of my talk of runny eggs. Or, she IS a loyal reader and was just egging me on. This leads me to believe that you could order the egg another way despite how foolish that would be.
|The egg yolk was a symbolic metaphor for the rest of the day. Note: two adorable little pickles.|
|Things are getting sloppy here but I wanted you to see the guts of this sandwich. Note: the two adorable little pickles were consumed immediately and are not in this shot.|
Honestly, I was not familiar with Croque Madame, or her male sandwich counterpart Croque Monsieur, but I found a nice little breakdown that answered my main question - why is the version with the egg called "Madame"? (The egg is said to resemble a woman's hat.) If that's true I'll eat my hat.
This plate was a work of art when it arrived. Everything about it looked inviting and appetizing. Even the sacrificial pickles cresting between the sandwich and the greens threw off a vibe of "look at how cute we are - YOU MUST EAT US NOW". You might think that the béchamel and the cheese and the runny egg would lead to a goopy mess but they have all the ratios nailed down cause it's all just right. They don't list what type of bread they use but it must be something hardy as it stood up to all that butter and cheese.
The little cup of Dijon mustard pairs well with the ham and I spent the whole time trying to get the correct ratio of ham/bread/cheese/egg/mustard onto the fork. Even when I didn't succeed the bites were mighty tasty.
The greens had a slightly sweet flavor, less tangy than most breakfast greens, and are a wonderful pairing. I like my Freedom Frites crispy and that's exactly how these were served.
The Result - 4.99 Sandwiches By Definition out of 5 Sandwiches By Definition. I can't think of anything wrong with this sandwich, or even this entire meal. While the Croque Madame is by definition a sandwich, you can't pick it up and eat it like a traditional sandwich. You need a fork or you're in trouble. That isn't the fault of the Madame but it wouldn't be fair to the other sandwiches to not point it out. Maybe it isn't technically a breakfast sandwich due to the egg being on the outside of the bread? I'm not going to quibble about such trifles.
In the past I have grumbled about sandwich prices, perhaps too much, and $15.50 would seem to be a lot for a sandwich, but this is a fairly large meal of excellent food. It's less than twice the cost of Moons Over My Hammy and that sandwich was mouth garbage.
I didn't even mention the beet bloody mary yet. It's still a bloody mary at heart, with a dash of beety goodness that hits you as soon as you sip and then settles into a more traditional bloody mary taste.
Everything about this experience was right on - the perfect morning for a bike ride, the food, service (at the bar) and setting (vibrant but not overly busy and loud), all came together. The overall goal of this research is to see if an excellent sandwich can affect your entire day and attitude and there is no question that this sandwich did that.