51 Gipps Street
Set in one of those old corner pubs that litter inner city Melbourne, the interior is packed full of character, with intricate timber detail on the ceiling over the bar, lots of exposed brick, original fireplaces and high ceilings. It has an incredibly warm and welcoming feel to it and I could just imagine this being a great local watering hole in its day. Based on that familiar pub feel, you’d expect an establishment like this to be serving up classics like pot pies and chicken parmas, but that couldn’t be further from what Le Bon Ton offer. Widely recognised as one of the best American BBQ restaurants in town, they treat visitors to a traditional southern American dining experience in this unlikely surrounding.
It’s popularity is quite widespread, so it’s not uncommon to find the entire restaurant packed full of diners every night of the week. We visited on an incredibly busy Saturday night and the place was a buzz with the loud chattering of happy diners digging into their meals. We were with a group of friends and wanted to try as much of the menu as we could, so we decided to go with the southern pride sharing menu, that was bound to have us rolling out of there at the end of the night.
And roll out of there we did! The serving size is incredibly generous and the food just kept on flowing out of the kitchen. We were served up classics like chilli cheese fries and fried buttermilk chicken, followed by good old mac and cheese, tangy coleslaw, onion rings and of course the Smokers Lot which is a selection of their pit smoked meats. For the $59 a head we paid, we ate like absolute champions.
In true American style everything was rich, lathered in heaps of sauce, the toppings pilled on and the seasoning heavy handed, but you know what? We loved it, even though our arteries were hating us for days to follow. If I had to pick a favourite, I’d say the stand out was the fried buttermilk chicken. It was so juicy and insanely flavoursome, and that coating was awesome! On the downside, they could reduce the amount of sauce on the meats, in particular the brisket. There was so much sauce on it that I could barely taste the meat, which is never a good thing.
In the end a good night was had by all, particularly the boys who’ll be returning for another meat feast.