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JFK: Croque Madame Opens

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Hanging out at the airport waiting for a flight isn't something people typically look forward to, but when I read that Andrew Carmellini of Locanda Verde was going to be a part of a new collection of restaurants and bars in JFK's Terminal 2, I immediately suggested that we get a jump on all that Thanksgiving traffic as we headed to Hong Kong.

It didn't hurt that it is located directly across from that bastion of high end mediocrity, Bonfire, my longtime nemesis in Delta Terminal eats.

Despite all the threats of passenger protests over TSA security measures, we more or less zipped through leaving a couple hours to spare before our flight. All the more time to explore the menu and have what turned out to be the first adventure of our trip. Sparks literally flew. Check it out after the jump.


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Croque Madame is directly on the left as soon as you walk through security at Terminal 2. It's got what's at least the prettiest design I've seen in an airport. Sleek lines and retro logos take you back to the "Catch Me If You Can" era but with all the proper modern day amenities with charging stations including two outlets and five(!) USB plugs at every booth and along the counter.

The downside of all that design is it was obviously made for the slim designer and not my fat ass. I felt like goldilocks squeezing into three different seating choices in the restaurant before finding the space that didn't jam me into the table. (Fatty alert: It's the counter that gives the most belly room)

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The service was a little slow, but very friendly. The fancy iPad ordering system that's supposed to be the big attention grabbing part of the set of new places (for those of us not just excited about having good food in the airport) isn't in place yet, so that may have something to do with it. And really, it's been open just a couple days.

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In case you weren't sure, Croque Madame focuses on French cafe food featuring a menu of sandwiches, quiches and pastries along with what looks like will be a respectable selection of wine and cocktails that beats the hell out of any airport bar I've ever seen.

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We ordered a pair of crepes, a favorite of both of ours since our last trip to Paris. Tammi had the prosciutto and mozzarella, mine was filled with emmantaler and gruyere.

Sadly, these weren't so much like the freshly made crepes overflowing with cheese that we scarfed down as late night drunk food and early morning breakfast in the Marais.
Instead, they were served sort of warm and seemed a little slim.

Given that they had been open for just a few days, I won't hold it against them that there are many kinks to be worked out.

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The most dramatic 'kink' would be the faceplate on the power outlet that came loose when I was plugging in my laptop cord. With a pop and a spark, the plate crashed down and left my cord a charred ruined mess.

Now, many would consider a laptop-free vacation something to aspire for. I can't begin to imagine it. Thankfully, i didn't have to. The managers came running over, apologized profusely and had a new one in my hands in about an hour. Thankfully, we had plenty of time.

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By the time we were leaving, the menu switched to lunch. Narrow sandwiches on crusty baguettes were our to-go dishes to fill the void between servings during our 19+ hours of flight time getting to Hong Kong. By the time we ate them, probably somewhere over the North Pole, I was wishing I'd ordered more. It was far superior to any plastic-wrapped mess available anywhere else and clearly better than the in-flight offerings. The bread was still perfectly crusty and the fillings, ham and cheese on one and chicken salad on the other were yummy.

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Next time, I want to be sure to give myself enough time to try out the signature dish, which looked wonderful in the display.

There's a ton of potential here, so, I'm actually looking forward to my next flight out of JFK to further explore this place as well as the other new options from Jason Denton and Jim Lahey. Who ever thought I'd want to spend more time at the airport?



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