Le Bernardin's Smoked Salmon Croque Monsieur, One of Our 100 Favorite Dishes
Dish no. 60: Smoked salmon croque monsieur at Le Bernardin (155 West 51st Street, 212-554-1515)
The gentleman beside you at the bar ordered the tasting menu for lunch: three courses, $45, and it benefits City Harvest, too. Not that he cares. The brightness of the seared tuna is lost to the glow of his Blackberry, the whiff of bouillabaisse saturating baked striped bass only prompts him to tuck his tie between two Charvet buttonholes, and as he turns his wrist to pierce the roasted banana mousse with his dripping coffee spoon, the hands of his Submariner hold more sway. You're not bound by time, and the four quarters of smoked salmon croque -- sealed to trimmed, toasted Maison Kayser pain de mie by hot butter and melted Gruyere, its razor edge bubbling with Golden Osetra -- prompt a course in meditation. You'll contemplate popping, nibbling, dismantling each glistening triangle with an Oreo twist, and you'll quietly lick your fingers when you're through.
In advance of our 2014 Best of NYC issue, we're traipsing through the boroughs and divulging our favorite dishes of the year. They're presented here as a countdown, but we're listing them in no particular order. Consider this a guide to what's good to eat in this town right this very second.