Walk into Le Bon Ton trailing a piece of string behind you. This place is huge, and a total maze!
The unsuspecting eatery, located in a quiet spot of Collingwood, is easy to walk by, even if you are looking for it, as several of my friends found when trying to meet up for dinner! But once in, the room is warm, atmosphere buzzing, noise levels high and staff busy as bees.
Oh, and it smells amazing.
On this particular Friday night, I had booked a table for 10 to have a little pre-birthday dinner, as several of us had wanted to check out Le Bon Ton…and well, birthday’s are just perfect catch up’s aren’t they?
I was definitely impressed with how big Le Bon Ton was, but was quite pleased that our table was in a slightly isolated area, so that we could still hear each other comfortably and feel like we had a private area for us!
As we were a table of 10, we had to go with the set menu, The Southern Pride menu, for $59 per person which consisted of three courses, with numerous dishes in a couple of the courses.
On a Friday night, you gotta be on time, we were given due notice when booking the table, that we had to give it back in 2 hours, and gently reminded throughout the night. So when I gave the go to start the menu at quarter to seven, I wasn’t overly surprised with how fast our first round of dishes came out!
Chilli cheese fries, with traditional Texas style style beef and bean chilli with a cheddar sauce totally hit the spot and put everyone in a southern kinda mood. Yum. Meaty, and hearty, chips weren’t as crunchy as advertised, but considering they’re sitting under a fair bit of chilli there, they are forgiven. Serious comfort food here.
The black bean hummus with pico de gallo, ancho creme and BBQ spiced tortilla chips was an interesting take on the usual hummus as well, a bit richer in flavour I found personally.
The fried chicken was definitely a winner; Southern style buttermilk tenders with cracked pepper and white gravy were juicy and tender, with a decadently crispy batter that wasn’t very oily on the fingers. Sarah did comment that they’re usually a bit expensive if you get them ala carte, but they are definitely worth it.
Once we had polished off the first lot of dishes, the waiters descended with hefty wooden boards topped with meaty deliciousness. The Smoker’s Lot included a serve of the grain-fed Riverina Angus beef brisket, Otway Ranges pork shoulder, Jalapeño and cheddar hot-link sausage and chicken basted in apple BBQ sauce. Talk about a smorgasbord!
I simply loved the pork shoulder, and generally found everything to be tender, and although all smoked meats, each with a slightly different flavour profile. The brisket smoky, the chicken surprisingly sweet and the sausage with a bit of heat, all around, a good feed.
The meats come with a range of salads to accompany; a potato salad with spring onion, fresh dill, pickles and mayo, iceberg salad with dill, cucumber and lemon dressing and a tangy coleslaw with cabbage, carrot and onion. All cooling and refreshing, a nice contrast to the meats. I have a serious soft spot for good slaw.
Did I forget to mention the cocktails at Le Bon Ton? It’s a cracker of a list, and the sazerac, in my opinion, is best had with a blend of whiskey and Martel VS Cognac in a ‘New York’ style mix. It’ll hit you hard, but it’s smooth.
Although mains were a sharing affair, dessert was an individual serve of chocolate brownie…which was a little bit lack lustre. A bit dry, a bit too dense, sure it was chocolatey, but it didn’t quite hit that the satisfyingly indulgent mark for me. This was begging for a scoop of ice-cream to go with it.
Le Bon Ton had all the atmosphere, it was a fun environment to bring a group of friends and laugh and make merry in. And although the food was generally good, I did find it to be on the expensive side, although I guess American barbecue tends to be. Although I enjoyed myself immensely, with great company of course, Le Bon Ton doesn’t rank so high on my re-visit list.
51 Gipps Street