It's not nice to tinker with a classic like a club sandwich. No way, no how should there be anything under that triple-decker white toast other than turkey or chicken, bacon, tomato, lettuce and mayonnaise. No cheese, no avocado, no sprouts, you hear?
Then along came the Madison Polo Club Sandwich, now a menu item in the Federalist restaurant and PostScript Lounge at the recently refurbished Madison Hotel. It has moist turkey, crisp bacon, lettuce and tomato. But it's on toasted brioche, not white bread. It has tarragon mayonnaise. Are you still with me? It also has a fried egg.
It has no business being as good as a traditional club sandwich, but it is.
The sandwich arrived at the Madison by way of Dubai. In 1992, Ravi Nage arrived for his job as a chef at the Dubai Hilton to find that the hotel's club sandwich was served with a hard-boiled egg. "Here was a sandwich that should have fresh ingredients, assembled at the last minute. But the boiled egg had been precooked. It didn't go with the rest of the sandwich." So Nage substituted a fried egg, perfectly cooked at the last minute so that the yolk is soft but not runny.
When Nage arrived in October as the Madison's executive sous chef, he brought his sandwich with him. Another key component is its delectably tender turkey, far from your standard leftover scraps. Nage prides himself on a multi-step process: First, a turkey breast is deboned. It's seasoned and seared on all sides until golden brown. It is then chilled, vacuum-packed with herbs and simmered until cooked through, chilled for a day, unpacked, trimmed and shaved.
-- Jeanne McManus
The Madison Polo Club Sandwich ($12 with french fries) is available for lunch in the Federalist restaurant and in the PostScript Lounge (for lunch and evening bar fare) in the Madison Hotel, 15th and M streets NW; 202-862-1600.