It must be the cheese
One diners’ dictionary on my desk translates croque monsieur as “crunch, sir.” To the French, it means a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, which (happily) American cooks are taking considerable liberties with. First, James Beard added mustard. District restaurant in New York recently served a version with whole-grain mustard and béchamel sauce on brioche. In Minneapolis, at Brasserie Zinc, the ham is rippled on top of a split baguette and topped with béchamel and a layer of gruyère. In San Francisco, at Baker Street Bistro, the cheese sauce is spread both in the sandwich and over the top; then the bundle is broiled. Personally, I’ve never met a croque monsieur I didn’t like. This one ― with a nod to Beard and the Baker Street Bistro ― and a green salad make a mighty fine petit meal.