What a Croque! Palmano's Now Serves French Fare

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Palmanos Croque

This may be the biggest croque madame I’ve ever seen.

It’s what I ordered, in my faltering French, at Palmano’s on Park Avenue. Yes, Palmano’s is an Italian name, and up until recently it had been ostensibly an Italian cafe, emphasis on the cafe/caffe.

But the new owners are French, and while they kept the name, they’ve changed the menu to be a bit more Gaulling. So of course there are the French bistro standards, including the croque monsieur and its lovely wife, madame. I usually go for the latter because it is the same as the monsieur except that it includes an egg, which is really more biologically correct than I like my sandwiches to be, but I try not to think about it.

For the uninitiated, a croque monsieur is sort of an inside out ham and cheese sandwiches, with a cheesy bechamel slathered about. It’s definitely a knife and fork sandwich, even without adding the fried egg

But like I said, I’ve never had one quite like the one I had at Palmano’s, not even in France. It was a triple decker with thick slices of French toast quality bread and thin slices of ham in between. Well, OK, the ham is more of the lunch meat quality, or viande de dejeuner, as they say in Paris. But the bechamel was thick and cheesy and made the whole thing taste like tartines on steroids. And the fried egg was gorgeous, even before I pierced the yolk and let it ooze all over the bread.

I didn’t see much else that has changed about the place. Unfortunately, it is still next door to a cigar store, whose patrons sit outside and ponder Freud, their noxious spew flowing into Palmano’s open door. “Puant!” as they say.

Palmano’s is at 333 Park Ave. S., Winter Park. It is open for breakfast and lunch daily. It does not have a website and it’s Facebook status has not been updated since 2011. The phone number is 407-647-7520.