I have acute anxiety about posting today. I may have discovered my favorite sandwich EVER, and I fear that I can never do it justice. I’ve loved sandwiches before. I once had a fling with a fried chicken sandwich at the Cracker Barrel. But never like this. Ahem. Everyone, meet Bouchon’s Croque Madame Sandwich. Sandwich, meet everyone:
I was a bit concerned about that sauce. It’s blindingly white. What does something that color taste like? I needn’t have worried. This dude (and his many Michelin stars) makes it all okay:
That white blanket of joy is actually mornay sauce, a creamy, cheese-laced cousin of bechamel, and a second cousin once removed from the white gravy gracing biscuits all over the South. The recipe, here on the Food Network website, also calls for ham, Swiss cheese, and buttery, melt-in-your-mouth brioche, alternately browned in a pan and warmed gently in the oven.
These simple ingredients are SO MUCH GREATER than the sum of their parts, I can’t even tell you! Every bite is a creamy, crunchy, buttery, melty symphony of flavor and texture and baby smiles and puppy licks. I could NOT put this sandwich down, people. I actually paused, stopped talking, and stared at the sandwich, thinking, “Who ARE you?! And when can I SEE you again?!”
Oh right, I should probably describe Bouchon for you. Let’s speed through the details, shall we? And we’re walking, we’re walking…
AMBIENCE: Like an authentic Parisian bistro, but within easy reach of uber-agency William Morris in Beverly Hills. (Think Ari Gold. Awesome pal Michael tells me Pacino was there last time! “Say hello to my little sandwich.”) Gorgeous zinc bar, a few outdoor tables on the balcony that overlook the Beverly Hills Gardens, and a noisy, brightly-lit dining room with a lovely high ceiling.
SERVICE: Impeccable. I was so hungry when we sat down that I was too weak to speak. Our server took one look at me and said, “I’ll get you some bread” in the same serious fashion that an EMT might say, “I’ll get you some plasma.”
OTHER THAN THE SANDWICH: The bread, butter and hummos dip were divine, but we split a ho-hum salad, and Michael had the signature roast chicken, which wasn’t as juicy as I’d hoped and just kind of a yawn. I shared my sandwich. It wasn’t easy.
LAST BITE: Bouchon is known for pastry, and our wedge of lemon tart didn’t disappoint. It’s the most generous dessert portion I think I’ve ever seen (half the size of a big NY slice of pizza) and they were tres accommodating when I asked for a side of whipped cream. (Doesn’t come with it. Druckin’ PURISTS!) The crust wasn’t transcendental but the custard was lovely and tart.
And then, my sandwich and I walked hand-in-hand, into the sunset. THE END.