Monsieur Croque - Mexico City
In a Nutshell
Monsieur Croque is a small, quirky café cum bistro in the heart of La Condesa offering classic French bistro fare. Something different. That’s good!
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If you’re culinarily enlightened or an obsessive “foodie” you are likely aware that a Croque Monsieur is a world-famous element of the French culinary repertoire that is the more sophisticated cousin of the American grilled cheese sandwich and the British “toastie”. The name of the dish roughly translates to Mister Crunch.
(note: in Spanish version replace and the British “toastie” with, “y las molletes Mexicana” and “Mister Crunch” with “Señor Crocante”.) Hey figure out if molletes is masculine or feminine. I have no clue.
Creating modified versions of this classic is “la chose principal” on the menu at Monsieur Croque. The classic is comprised of several slices of boiled ham between two slices of a buttered brioche (pan de mie) topped with grated Gruyere or Emmental cheese that are then either placed below a broiler until the cheese has melted and begins to char or fried until crisp in a pan full of butter. Occasionally, a béchamel sauce is added to dispel any doubt that the dish is, in fact, French.
Monsieur Croque didn’t want to have to wash the forks required to eat a classic Croque Monsieur, so they moved the cheese between the two slices of bread (basically creating a sandwich) thereby appeasing Americans and Mexicans who are obsessed with eating things that fit in their hands.
Also, bucking French tradition, they grill the entire thing on a panini machine. Perhaps they should call the sandwich a Signore Croccante!
They have about ten or so versions. A Mexicanized one with spicy fried chicken bits and guacamole. A nod to their Texas neighbors led to the creation of one with Texas-style barbecue sauce.
I plan to try them all. After all . . . It’s my job.
The French owner had to do something more elaborate than sandwiches. He’s probably already the laughing stock of Normandy for bastardizing the Croque Monsieur. He’s saving grace by putting a few more classic French items on the menu. Escargots? Yep. But those little critters are hard to come by in Mexico so be forewarned, they may not have them available. Hopefully the classic French Onion Soup and the Ratatouille won’t have been 86’d as well.
Breakfast, you say? Yep. Starting at about 8:30 a.m. they begin serving some classic French breakfast fare. Omelets, crepes, Eggs Benedict (okay, so that one’s British, but who’s counting?), and a Croque Madame (that’s a Croque Monsieur topped with a poached or baked egg). For all you unimaginative die-hard Mexicans that can’t venture outside your comfort zone . . . Relax! They have chilaquiles.
The décor is sort of quirky Bohemian meets French. A bit short on paying attention to the details. It reminded me a bit of nearby Que sería de mi. And service was a bit lackluster too. But that seems to be the modus operandi in these quirky little cafés and bistros. And the genial personalities of the staff compensates for the minor lapses in service.
By the way, there’s a great little pastry shop and bakery next door owned by the same Frenchie. Very good pastries. If you don’t see any desserts that strike your fancy at Monsieur Croque, you can go pick out and pay for something next door and bring it over to your table at Monsieur Croque to enjoy next to a cup of French-roast coffee.
Although the décor is a bit rough around the edges and the service a bit less than stellar, it’s still a breath of fresh air to have some unique menu items like these in Mexico City. It’s definitely worth a repeat visit.