Dish: Croque Madame
Restaurant: The Citizen Wine Bar, part of Niche Exchange
Price Tag: $10
The Citizen Wine Bar is one-third of a single foodie-friendly “concept” in downtown Worcester called Niche Exchange. Their single location offers The Citizen Wine Bar, a haven for wine, cheese and chocolate; The People’s Kitchen, home to high quality ingredients with hearty, home-cooked appeal; and Still and Stir, an ode to the perfect cocktail. It all sounds (and is) pretty impressive, but the hidden gem among these artisanal options is one damn good ham sandwich.
A croque madame is simply a ham, fried egg and cheese sandwich of French origin. That’s it, and if you ask me, that’s all it needs to be.
The bar menu is a popular hide-out for cheap eats at not so cheap restaurants like this one. Niche Exchange emphasizes its efforts on keeping their prices reasonable, but $20+ entrees are not something the collegiate crowd can afford “on the reg.” Beat the system by cocktailing at home and enjoying the same quality ingredients for a reduced price on the bar menu.
The Citizen’s croque madame does not skimp on Easter-dinner-quality ham, salty and sliced perfectly between your limp, transparent deli fare and thick, sometimes tough carved ham. Next is a layer of melted provolone cheese adhered to the outer layer of thick and sweet challah bread complete with perfect golden grill marks. The sandwich is covered in smooth Mornay, a creamy French cheese sauce, and far from what you might know of the salty, orange “cheese sauces” of America’s cultural tradition. The whole thing is topped with an over-easy egg that offers its gooey yolk as an additional rich sauce. It comes with a side of thin, crispy and addictive fries to finish off your indulgent experience.
Enjoy the cozy and sophisticated (low lighting, throw pillows in the booths…) atmosphere of The Citizen for only ten bucks: sounds good to me!
Jen Cantin is a recent graduate of Clark University in Worcester, Mass. in the midst of life changes like moving to Richmond or Philly, IDK, TBD! She shares other (a)musings at Deep Fried Epiphany and dedicates this post to informed bread choices.