Brunch at Jacques – NYC
Croque Madame @ Jacques
Two weeks ago I had a very satisfying Croque Madame at Epicerie Cafe Charbon. (In case you don’t know, a Croque Madame is basically a glorified ham sandwich with a poached egg on top. A Croque Madame minus an egg is a Croque Monsieur.) Prior to that, I had been avoiding brunch places, just because I was sick of the same-ole same ole. I mean how many Eggs Benedicts can you eat in a lifetime? Also, David is now scared of hollandaise sauce after reading Kitchen Confidential. For those who haven’t read the book, Anthony Bourdain writes that hollandaise sauce is a “petri-dish of biohazards” since it needs to be kept at a low temperature (to prevent cooking the eggs in the sauce) and it is never made-to-order. So basically, at a restaurant, a vat of lukewarm hollandaise sauce sits in the back of the kitchen throughout brunch service, breeding germs and bacteria as the day progresses. Personally, this doesnt’t scare me that much. I mean, I’ve never gotten sick from an Eggs Benedict, and because of the high turn-around at New York restaurants, I feel most places will be making more than one batch of hollandaise sauce a day. Someone, correct me if I am wrong. Maybe I trust restaurants too much, but my feeling is, you can’t live your life in fear. I mean puh-leez, I have more things in life to be worried about.
In any case, the Croque Madame at Charbon was delicious and since then I’ve been constantly craving the cheesey ham goodness of a Croque Madame. So last Saturday, as soon as I woke up, I looked online to see where they have the best Croque Madame in NYC. The people over at CHOW recommended Bar Six and Pastis, but being the lazy bastard that I am on Saturday mornings, we made our way over to Jacques in NoLita instead.
The Croque Madame at Jacques is utterly delicious. They give you two really good-sized buttery ham sandwiches topped with just the right amount of creamy bechamel broiled to perfection, and an egg, perfectly cooked over-easy. It also came with an order of french fries that were very chewy and crisp. At $14, it’s more expensive than Charbon, which is under $10 and comes with a juice and coffee or tea, but considering the amount of food they give you, and the amount of care they seemingly take to prepare the Croque Madame, I think it’s definitely worth it. However, that said, I wouldn’t mind if the portion was smaller and cheaper. I was so full after eating the Croque Madame that I didn’t really have room for much of the fries.
I did have room for a Bloody Mary though. Brunch is never complete without one for me. Something about a Bloody Mary makes brunch so much more fun. I think it might have something to do with the vodka. 😉 The Bloody Mary at Jacques was decent. I think Freeman’s has the best Bloody Mary downtown; strong, spicy, and garnished with a caper berry. Yummm…..
David had the Eggs Florentine. An Eggs Florentine is basically an Eggs Benedict but with spinach instead of ham. And yes, there was hollandaise sauce on it, and he survived. I asked him if he thought it was better than Charbon and he said it was different. He couldn’t elaborate much beyond that. Later in the day, I asked him again and he said he thought Charbon was better, but again gave no reason. Unfortunately, I was enjoying my Croque Madame too much to even consider trying his eggs. So just know folks, the Eggs Florentine at Jacques are different and possibly not as good as Charbon. Sheesh.
I just finished reading Trail of Crumbs, a beautifully written memoir by Kim Sunée, and she includes a recipe for Croque Madame. I’ll be trying that out in a few days. I’m thinking prosciutto instead of ham, and possibly some basil. Until then, if you have a craving, have a delicious Croque Madame at Jacques, or if you trust David, a possibly better Eggs Florentine at Cafe Charbon.
20 Prince St. (near Elizabeth St.)
New York, NY 10012
Epicerie Cafe Charbon
170 Orchard St. (at Stanton St.)
New York, NY 10002