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A hearty croque-madame makes for a single sweet regret

CUP

Aug 03,2009
A croque-madame at Artisee. By Ser Myo-ja
After indulging in a wide range of tasty dishes during my vacation in New York City, I thought I wouldn’t want any more Western-style weekend brunches in Seoul, at least for a few weeks. But I should have known better, because just a week after I came back from my NYC cafe tour I was seriously jonesing for a grilled cheese sandwich and a good cup of coffee.

I have heard that Artisee, a cafe chain run by the Shilla Hotel, had a great brunch menu, but I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to find what I wanted. I knew that the cafe offered open face sandwiches, so the cafe’s Apgujeong location was my destination for a recent Sunday brunch.

The cafe, located on one of the main streets of Apgujeong-dong, southern Seoul, has an open terrace and the tables on both the ground and second floors were nearly full, although it was only about 11:30 a.m. Most of the customers were families with children, and the cafe’s high ceilings and bright lighting were wonderful for the kids.

On the menu, I found a croque-madame (15,500 won, $12.66), a rare offering in Seoul’s cafes. A croque-monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich and a croque-madame is a croque-monsier served with a fried or poached egg on top. My companion ordered the cafe’s signature salad (15,000 won) and our meals were accompanied by Americano coffees (4,000 won if ordered with a meal).

The croque-madame was a delightful, sumptuous dish. The sandwich was made with turkey ham, and it complemented the rich Bechamel sauce very well. This could have been a very heavy sandwich, but the cafe’s smart choice of turkey ham actually brought out the flavor while making it a healthier meal.

The salad was perhaps one of the best in Seoul. The greens were fresh and the chunks of grilled chicken were soft, tender and perfectly seasoned. But it was the generous amount of avocado and blue cheese that really stole my heart. The salad was topped with a thin slice of bread with a truffle spread, which improved both its visual appeal and the taste.

The coffee was mild, and the server told us the cafe roasts its own blend of beans. The soft yet rich taste of the coffee went well with our brunch choices. It took a while for us to get refills, probably about 10 to 15 minutes, although that didn’t turn out to be a serious problem.

The ground floor of the cafe has an eye-catching display case for cakes and pastries ranging from macaroons to Sachertorte. The dishes we’d ordered were so big that we had no room for desert, but I couldn’t help but wonder on my way home whether I should have tried a small bite of the Valrhona chocolate souffle while I’d had the chance.

Artisee Apgujeong

Location: 648-13, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu

Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to midnight on weekends.

Telephone: (02) 3448-0017


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


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