Le Comptoir's Smoked Salmon Croque Monsieur

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This Sandwich of the Week is a unique take on a croque monsieur from a popular Parisian bistro

The idea of ordering a smoked salmon croque monsieur at Paris' Le Comptoir could easily raise a few eyebrows.

Ordering a croque monsieur at a Parisian bistro — isn't that a little played out? And not only that, a fish and cheese sandwich — isn't that a bit of a questionable combination? Is this really what you want to order at one of the city's best and most popular dining destinations?

I'm telling you, it is.

Let's not forget that this is no typical French bistro. The brainchild of chef Yves Camdeborde, the charming Saint-Germain spot has been garnering critical and popular acclaim since its 2005 debut. Add up the inches in newspapers and magazines that have been dedicated to praising the restaurant's remarkably affordable and effortlessly innovative fare and you might end up with a number close to that of the minutes you're likely to spend waiting for a table during lunch service. (Don't worry, they've opened a standing-room-only wine bar next door, aptly titled L'Avant Comptoir, to help ease the pain of the anticipation.)

Now, back to the sandwich. The smoked salmon croque monsieur is arguably one of their signature dishes, but what you'll be presented with might not, at first glance, relieve any of your initial skepticism. The sandwich does not have the makeup of a typical croque monsieur — the bread, most significantly, is not the crusty pain Poilâne so many are accustomed to. Instead, what we have here appears to be some sort of brioche toast, golden and crisped in the manner of a grilled cheese sandwich.

Cut diagonally to reveal its midsection, cheese starting to ooze out, it certainly has a grilled cheese kind of feel. But the cut also offers another surprise: A thin layer of tiny black pearls of caviar. If that raised eyebrow of yours is finally starting to fade, the first bite will kill all evidence that it ever existed. Buttery, rich, cheesy, and just as salty as it needs to be, this sandwich is whatever the French equivalent of "so damn good" is.

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