Why do we order grilled ham and cheese sandwiches at a restaurant? Can't a chowhound do this at home? Answer: When the grilled ham and cheese sandwich is crowned with bechamel sauce and becomes a croque monsieur.
I've found this homely to royalty transformation exquisite at the Metro Cafe (Divisidaro Street)in San Francisco. In Palo Alto, on unpretentious California Avenue, Joanie's Cafe layers a generous serving of thinly sliced, quality ham and luscious cheese on bread. Then the magical transformation of sauce and cheese crowns the bread. Compared to the Metro Cafe's version, Joanie's is heartier - the country cousin of the city sandwich.
Joanie accompanies the sandwich with a plain tossed salad and commercial tasting dressing which doesn't match the splendor of the croque monsieur.
Joanie's is owned by a French couple who own Cafe Brioche, also on California Street.
447 California Avenue
650 326 6506