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Croque Madame Clash: La Grande Orange vs Essence Bakery

Whether you're more familiar with the Croque Monsieur or its counterpart, Croque Madame (which is basically a Croque Monsieur with a fried egg on top), you're most likely no stranger to the buttery, gruyere cheese and ham goodness of this treat.

As of late, we've been on the hunt for a yummy breakfast item and decided to reacquaint ourselves with Mrs. Crunchy and her sunny-side up hat (Croque is derived from the verb croquer meaning to crunch. Hence the play on words. Get it? Get it? Ha!)

More than pleased to meet you, Croque Madame...again.

Now that we are all friends here, let's get down to business. Enter our battle of the dishes, La Grande Orange Grocery in Phoenix against Essence Bakery Café in Tempe.

In One Corner: La Grande Orange Grocery
4410 N. 40th St. Phoenix
602-840-7777

The Set Up: At LGO, Croque Madame is broiled open-faced with ham, tomato, a sunny-side up egg, some spicy mustard sauce and slices of gruyere. She's accompanied by a side of buttered pickles and yellow watermelon.
Pros: The egg was fried perfectly with a sunny yolk shining bright, and we kinda liked that the bread was only lightly toasted. It allowed the yolk and tomato juices to really soak into each bite.
Cons: We were a bit thrown off by having our sandwich on what seemed to be random pieces of slices of 9 grain bread. Weird, right? We thought so.  And the slices of ham were super thin. This lady seemed to be on a diet. We should have known with all the yoga pants standing in line to order their post-work out eggs.

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In The Other Corner: Essence Bakery Café 825 W. University Dr., Tempe 480-966-2745

The Set Up: Thin pieces of homemade 9 grain bread brushed with béchamel and layered with tomatoes and gruyere cheese are cut into a perfect square before being baked all together. Finally she is topped with cracked pepper and an egg fried however you'd like.
Pros: Bread was a bit thin, and after baking, it developed an almost cracker like crunch. Mrs. Crunchy is living up to her name.
Cons: She wasn't quite as decadent as the ingredients would lead you to believe. The sandwich was slightly skimpy on the béchamel, but that could just be because it was Essence's first day back from a two-week hiatus.

The Verdict: Essence Bakery Café wins this battle for doing a nice job of satisfying our urge for some breakfast crunch. Next we'll have to try their Croque Monsieur for lunch.

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