Each week, Justin Bitner goes hunting for DFW's most interesting sandwiches. Have a sandwich suggestion? Leave it in the comments and he'll check it out.
Sandwich: The Croque-Monsieur ($11)
Bread: Empire Baking brioche sliced thicker than pre-natal Jessica Simpson
Toppings: Bayonne ham, gruyere and bechamel
The Case: Simplicity is the theme of the week. While sandwiches with creatively delicious ingredients and exotic preparation are great, sometimes it's just good to have a simple sandwich prepared the right way. With that, I headed to the restaurant with the world's fourth shortest name: Nosh.
Situated on the cornerstone of a shopping center at Preston and Park, the newest Nosh has reinvented a space once occupied by a sushi restaurant. As soon as I walked in, my eyes were drawn to the open kitchen, which features bar-top seats surrounding it for those who want the pseudo-Benihana experience without all the spatular percussion.
I took a seat right in the line of fire, feeling I could gain an enhanced appreciation for my dish as it went through the infantile phases of its sandwich life. With the single-page menu in front of me, I instantly settle on the lone sandwich available (simplicity folks!), the Croque-Monsieur.
For those unfamiliar with the classic French gut grenade, it's typically a grilled ham and cheese (gruyere being the popular choice for its ideal melting qualities) topped with more cheese that is melted to a bubbly light brown. Variations have arisen such as the Croque-madame, which is simply topped with a fried egg, said to have resembled the lady's hats from the early 1900's.
Nosh's version sticks mostly to the original recipe, slathering a deliciously gooey house béchamel sauce on the inside of the sandwich prior to grilling. Brioche is the bread of choice, made by local purveyor Empire Baking. A quick chat with the chef, who'd just plated a head-turning paella, revealed that they recently switched from challah to the much more buttery French loaf, surely to avoid the semitic juxtaposition of the swine sandwich.
Once the sandwich arrived, I sized it up and tried to snap a decent photo without catching the eyes of the chefs or servers buzzing about. A small salad served as a brief guilt mitigator as I plowed through it on the way to the main course. The croque itself, while simple in construction, is incredibly rich in flavor. Bechamel and gruyere, despite coating the entire sandwich, lurk deliciously in the background of the taste. The dairy duo pick up the wonderful saltiness of the buttered bread.
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The ham, stacked up in seemingly unending layers, provides a mild saltiness and the meaty foundation. Toward the middle of the sandwich, the ham completely takes over, making for a nice contrast with the edges, where more of the bread and cheese is present to the palate. Those edges are the real star of this dish. The creamy béchamel dripping over the sides and the crisp brioche turn what many consider the worst part of a sandwich into the best.
The Verdict: Flip the double-bird to swimsuit season by loading up on a summer's worth of calories, Nosh's classic Croque-Monsieur is absolutely worth it.
More 'Wich Trials: The Turkey Ciabatta at Bolsa Mercado The Brough Ham Fleetwood at Off-Site Kitchen Tha Nooner at Jonathon's Oak Cliff The Fried Oyster Po' Boy at Po' Melvin's The Sizzling Steak at Captain Nemo's