12/05/2012 01:43:00 PM

Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Hatfield's Croque Madame

If you watched Treme this past season, you witnessed chef Janette go from a David Chang sous to having her own high-end New Orleans restaurant, which she has reservations about. Mostly she just doesn't want to have a signature dish, which some Chowhounder (really?) decided was the crawfish ravioli. To a chef, a signature dish can be a good or a bad thing. To Janette, it means she's boxed in with no control over her own menus. No customer will dictate that! To others, it's a highlight in their career, something not to rest their laurels on, but that maybe represents their style and a moment in time.

We're not sure where Quinn Hatfield falls in that spectrum, but he created his hamachi croque madame in New York, brought it to the small Beverly Boulevard bistro he and wife Karen ran for several years before moving to the current and more haute Hatfield's on Melrose. Yes, it's most definitely a signature dish.

But that croque madame is a thing of beauty. Unlike the fancy grilled cheese with bechemal and an egg on top, this one has silky hamachi tucked between two toasted pieces of buttery brioche, drizzled with beurre blanc and topped with a sunny-side up quail egg. The hamachi is cool and the bread slightly warm; the textures and flavors just all work together. It's a great reminder of why Hatfield is one of the city's top toques, and also that we should be dining here more than once every two years.

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