As comfort foods go, the croque-monsieur is hard to beat. The richly satisfying French snack consists of thickly cut bread loaded with ham and cheese, topped with even more cheese, and grilled to a hot, melted finale.
Eden in Eden, a newly opened vegetarian French café in the Roads, offers a vegan (or vegetarian) version of the European classic. The thick, smothered sandwich is layered with veggie pork, tomatoes (technically, that makes it a croque-provençal), olives, and gobs and gobs of cheese inside and out.
The eatery, run by the recently transplanted Eusebi, Monique, and Nathanael Guillaume (father, mother, and son), offers a whole host of French favorites sans the traditional heavy-handed use of butter, cream, cheese, and egg.
You'd never notice the omissions, however. The croque-monsieur ($8.70) was moist and flavorful, each bite a satisfying forkful of creamy goodness. Because of its molten texture and jam-packed oozy innards, eating it by hand was impossible. Unable to put away more than a third, I took the luscious leftovers home.
As far as the rest of the menu, the offerings are largely organic, health-conscious (with some obvious indulgent options), and unquestionably fresh. Monique makes many of the offerings by hand, so don't expect superfast service, but the wait time is worth it. The family moved from France to Miami specifically to open a vegetarian restaurant, and their twist on French classics is a pretty thrilling development in a city starved for more meatless eats.
In addition to the croque-monsieur, Eden in Eden offers vegan crêpes (sweet and savory), vegan quiche, vegan chaussons, fougasse, whole-wheat croissants, a juice bar, and caffeine-free mushroom coffee. Seriously. And the prices are impressively reasonable -- $9.80 for vegan crêpes, $12.50 for an organic European salad, $8.50 for a custom-made sammie, and $2.50 for a croissant. Most of the menu items can be made vegan or vegetarian -- pick your pleasure.
When you pop in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, expect to meet three of the nicest folks ever. Miami needs more people like the Guillaumes.
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Eden in Eden is located at 1248 SW 22nd St. It's open Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's closed Saturday for Sabbath.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.