Though located just off the most chaotic and touristy stretch of the Magnificent Mile, Deca Restaurant + Bar feels like a world away. More accurately, it is twelve floors up and in the lobby of The Ritz, which explains why it's so strangely serene and calm. Of course, one must pay for all this pleasantry, but even I was kind of shocked by the $17 sticker price for the croque madame. Isn't this just a ham and cheese sandwich with an egg on top?
Well, not really. Instead of slimy slices of deli ham, Deca uses high-quality Madrange ham and a distinctive aged Gruyère. They are both served on toasted thick-cut bread, which is sturdy and thankfully not completely drenched in butter. The result is an oddly manageable croque madame—something I don't think I've ever been able to say about the dish before.
Whether you like your croque madame restrained or not is a different question. While the sandwich made me feel all respectable, I did have to reach for the salt shaker quite a bit. Plus, I kept thinking of all the far cheaper and more satisfying sandwiches I could have been eating at that exact moment.