I’ve already hinted elsewhere that, for being a French food fan, I’ve eaten surprisingly few French classics. Somewhere between my busy schedule and the price of the Euro, when in France, I have tended to stick to lunches of baguette, butter, and ham sandwiches (which are pretty incredible) instead of white wine, escargots, and oeufs coquette.
However, this wasn’t good enough for Chef Chad Townsend at Salt of the Earth, Pittsburgh. After mentioning that I’ve never had a croque madame — a sort of elevated grilled cheese with ham — I was brought this delicious rendition of the old French favorite. Two buttery brioche slices are grilled with melted gruyère cheese and thick wedges of house-cured ham, then are crowned with a farm-fresh egg and slathered with béchemal. In every bite, the firm body of the bread gave way to the luxurious sauce, egg, and cheese; the smokiness of the ham cuts through the layers of butter. A green salad with fresh herbs and a bright, strong vinaigrette gives balance.
It’s not always on the menu (although it is right now), but — as this May 1 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette states — any dish of Chad’s is worth trying.
Salt of the Earth
5523 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15602