The American eats craze hasn’t done its dash yet. There are plenty of US expats who swear blind that with a rare few exceptions – the original Buffalo wings at the Kodiak Club; Rockwell and Sons’ fried chicken; a slightly-less-cheesy but still on the money Philly cheesesteak at Sparrow’s – it’s yet to be done right at all.
So could Le Bon Ton be the venue to finally get 'er done? We sure as hell hope so, and we think it just might.
Le Bon Ton is the latest venture from Mick and Will Balleau – the New Mexican brothers who over two years have brought us such excellent ventures as Chingon, Dr Juicy Jay's Crab Shack and Cuban food truck El Paladar.
This time, they’ve taken over the old Hell Towers Saloon site (formerly the infamous Glasshouse) and faithfully reconstructed everything excellent from America’s cocktail heartland, New Orleans, in its cavernous interior.
On the cans will be gun bartender Evan Stanley. On the speakers: rockabilly jams, country tunes and Dixieland jazz. There’s a dedicated, copper-plated absinthe and oyster room, and those bivalve molluscs will be available, freshly shucked, right up until 6am on the weekends courtesy of the venue’s 24-hour license.
And while late-night debauchery is inevitable, we’re relieved it ain’t the only draw – a problem faced by its predecessor, which, being located a short walk off of the Smith Street strip, only really hit its straps at 3am when the rest of the ‘burb shut up shop.
The huge back room, formerly used for gigs, has been turned into a dining room, destined for what could be the most American menu Melbourne has seen to date.
You’re looking at peach cobbler, Texas chilli fries and potentially a Louisiana crab boil updated with yabbies.
Everything that can be, will be smoked – brisket, sausages and pork shoulder, which you can order by the half or whole pound. The AstroTurfed courtyard houses two giant smokers and the payroll features Texan brothers Jeremy and Christopher Sutphin – both ex-Fog; both beasts of the Southern wilds.
“I thought someone had sent these guys to find me," says Will Balleau. “This big guy Jeremy came into Chingon one night and started talking about how he and his brother had spent their life cooking Southern food and smoking meat – it was fate."