Though a Yontville transplant, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon has settled into the surreal luxury of Beverly Hills like a pricey leather armchair. You can be assured that everything—from the golden color of the frites that come with your pan-seared flatiron steak to the ethereal potato puree beneath a pale and plump link of boudin blanc—adheres to the master’s exacting standards. That’s not to say the place is stiff. This is a bistro, after all, and the dining room radiates a polished comfort.

Best Croque Madame, August 2011

Brioche, ham, cheese, béchamel, egg. If slices of raw yellowtail were included in the ingredients for a classic croque madame sandwich, we would have bowed to the creative version at Hatfield’s. The supersize, superrich heart attack-on-bread at Petrossian (of all places) is what we crave the morning after a rough night. But it was the Beverly Hills branch of Bouchon, Thomas Keller’s brasserie, that reached the pinnacle of this brunch indulgence. Slices of toasty, inch-thick brioche (80 percent butter!) enfold a delectable pairing of mild French ham and pungent  Gruyère cheese crowned by a nearly flawless over-easy egg and a satiny puddle of Mornay sauce. The resulting dish is deceptively quaint. While none of the ingredients dominates, in combination they conquer your day, especially when accompanied by a mimosa and something chocolatey on the sunny patio.