You can expect a line at La Farm Bakery, a popular place for breakfast, lunch, or early dinner in North Carolina's Research Triangle. But you can use that time to your advantage, enjoying generous samples of breads, dips, and even some desserts to help with your difficult decision-making about what to order. A tough decision it is, with so many good choices on the menu, and with all the breads and other baked goods tantalizingly on display in Parisian style.
Being from out of town, I asked others in line for suggestions, and they consistently recommended one of La Farm's specialty sandwiches: the Croque Madame ($7.95). It's served on toasted La Farm Bread--their signature light sourdough made in a three-day process--with ham, imported gruyère, homemade Mornay sauce, and fresh chopped chives. In case that's not decadent enough, the sandwich is topped with a mozzarella-provolone blend as well as two fried eggs.
Naturally, this is a knife-and-fork affair, as the egg yolks ooze out beautifully into the chewy, buttery bread. The flavors are well-balanced, with the meat mingling well with the melted cheese. If you're looking to green up the croque madam, you can add sautéed spinach for under a dollar. At lunch, there's a "petite salade" with housemade champagne vinaigrette to counter the intensity of the sandwich, while at breakfast the croque madame comes with fruit.