Before today, I thought the main attraction of Cafe de la Presse, the French restaurant at 352 Grant Avenue, was its trove of foreign newspapers. My prior experience there was a pedestrian cheeseburger. Today, I asked the friendly and attentive waiter what the most popular lunch item is (note, by asking what is the most popular dish, you are asking an objective question, not the waiter's subjective opinion. The most popular dish tends to be something the chef does extremely well). He said the croque monsieur. Hmm, I thought, I can make a grilled cheese sandwich at home fairly easily, why should I have one here?
Surprise! Cafe de la Presse makes this grilled cheese sandwich with a bechamel sauce and cheese mixture on the outside of the sandwich. The perfectly done and lovely exterior looks like it was finished off in the broiler. It had a sophisticated, fulfilling taste. This is not reminescent of your grilled cheese and tomato soup days. This is Parisian haute couture. Thin slices of quality cheese and ham carefully embraced by bread blanketed in that remarkable sauce.
The salad accompanying the croque monsieur is a vibrant mix of fresh yuppie greens in a raspberry vinaigrette. Cafe de la Presse sure knows how to make this vinaigrette. Oftentimes, flavored vinaigrettes scream the additional flavor - "here I am!". In this case, the raspberry was there surely - subtle, delicate and charming. The salad comes dressed with just the right amount of dressing. This is a safe place, no greens drown at this establishment. All in all, these croque monsieurs with salads should make chowhounds contented.