Le Bon Ton Collingwood is one of the hottest eating spot’s to have opened in Melbourne in 2014. Located a short walk from Smith Street in the former Glasshouse Hotel, Le Bon Ton is both close to the action, but far enough away that you have to know it’s there in order to find it. Things were insanely busy when Le Bon Ton opened back in February, so I left my visit until more recently to see what the fuss was all about.
The owners, brothers Will and Mick Balleau, who hail from New Mexico have done a great job with the fitout. I’ve not been to New Orleans before but the interior is what I imagine a bar over there could be like. Exposed brick walls, wood, concrete, ornate ceilings, candles and an assortment of vintage signs and artwork mix with a 1920s style jazz and blues soundtrack to create an atmosphere that’s a joy to be in.
The drinks list is quite decent, with the Southern themed cocktail list being particularly impressive. While the Shortcake Fizz (Tanqueray, citrus, strawberries and a dollop of cream, puffed up with soda) didn’t quite hit all of the high notes of its potential, the Southern Belle (Zubrowka bison grass vodka, apple, peach and passion fruit) and and Lynchburg Lemonade (Jack Daniels, orange liqueur and lemon juice) were fantastic.
There are 9 beers on tap, with brewers like Sierra Nevada, Rogue and Brooklyn on offer and a decent range of wines and spirits.
The kitchen is run by brothers Jeremy and Christohper Sutphin, who were born in Alabama and raised in Texas and as one would expect the menu contains a range of Southern American favourites. Smoked meats, oysters, ribs, biscuits, fried chicken, “sandwiches” etc – you get the picture.
Pulled Pig Sandwich (Pit Smoked Pulled Pork With White Onion, Jalepeno, Sharp Cheddar & Special Sauce) ($16.00)
I was in two minds about the pulled pig sandwich. The pulled pork itself was great – tender strands of flavoursome pork, just the way they should be however the rest of the flavours blurred into something that didn’t really pack any kind of punch. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t stand out.
Corn On The Cob With Garlic Butter, Coriander & Dried Guajillo Chilli ($8.00 for 2)
The corn on the cob was disappointing. The corn itself was cooked perfectly. Not too hard, not too soft and each kernel slipped off the cob very easily with each bite. Flavour wise though it was quite bland. It was buttery yes but the garlic and chilli really didn’t stand out at all. A nice piece of corn yes, but nothing more than that.
Cheeseburger (150g Wagyu Beef Patty & Crispy Bacon With Onion, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickles, Spicy Ketchup & Aioli) ($16.00)
The cheeseburger was one of the highlights of the night. The beef patty was cooked medium, was nicely charred on the outside and all of the other components were present in just the right proportions to make a really tasty burger. Classic flavours and a great taste.
Brisket (Pit Smoked 1/2 Pound Grain Fed Riverina Angus Beef) ($21.00)
The meat that comes out of the pit smoker is smoked over iron bark and fruit woods for up to 12 hours. The brisket had a great smoky flavour to it however it was a bit on the dry side. It could have just been an off night and I’d be keen to come back and try it again, along with some of the other pit smoked meats as the flavour really was good.
Fried Chicken (Southern Style Soaked Buttermilk Tenders With Cracked Pepper & White Gravy) ($16.00)
The fried chicken was excellent. The tenders were really juicy, the coating had a great crispy, almost crumbly texture to it and the seasoning and sauce worked really well together.
Crab Cakes (Gulf Style With Streaky Bacon, Bell Peppers, Celery & Old Bay Aioli) ($16.50 for 2)
The crab cakes were quite nice too. They had a good soft texture on the inside and the outside was crunchy and not too heavy.
Pickles (Radish, Gherkin, Carrot, Baby Onion & Jalepeno) ($7.50)
The pickles were tasty and not too overpowering however depending on what you’re ordering you probably don’t need to get them as a side. 3 of the things we ordered came with a serving of pickles and as a result we didn’t really need these – check before you order.
I’d heard mixed things about Le Bon Ton and my experience was pretty much in line with what I had expected. The space is fun, full of atmosphere and the service is attentive. As for the food itself, nothing that I ate was bad however I’ve had better versions of the various menu items elsewhere in Melbourne. I think Le Bon Ton works best as a the sum of its parts. Overall the food is decent, the atmosphere is great and, if you’re there with a few friends you’d be hard pressed not to enjoy yourselves.
Oh and look at those opening hours. A 24 hour license means that Le Bon Ton is open quite a lot, which makes late night feeds after a night out in Collingwood a lot more interesting.
Le Bon Ton
51 Gipps Street
Mon: 5:00pm to 1:00am (Bar Menu Only)
Tue – Thu: 12:00pm to 1:00am
Fri – Sat: 12:00pm to 6:00am
Sun: 12:00pm to 12:00am