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12° & CLOUDY ON TUESDAY 25 SEPTEMBER IN MELBOURNE
By Julia Gaw
March 19, 2014
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Le Bon Ton

Oysters, absinthe, smoked meat and a 24-hour licence.
By Julia Gaw
March 19, 2014
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BOOK A TABLE

American BBQ-style restaurants are so hot right now. The formula goes something like this: Pull the pork, barbecue the chicken wings, smoke the beef, add a side of slaw or fries and a stiff drink with which to wash it down.

Le Bon Ton, from the American brothers behind Chignon, is the latest to jump on the southern-style bandwagon. It might seem all too familiar, but its saving grace is the myriad of personalities contained within its fun and fierce identity. Anywhere you can feasibly find pit-smoked meat alongside a dozen fresh oysters, a glass of real champagne and an absinthe cocktail has got something going on. One thing pulls it all together, and that's the homage to America's deep south: meat smoked as if in Texas, fish prepared with thoughts of the Louisiana Gulf Coast and an underlying ode to the French-influenced city of New Orleans. There's a sophisticated authenticity here that other venues lack.

Upon entering at meal times you'll be hit with the smell of the meat smoker that lives in the courtyard, supplying luxuriously tender beef, pork and sausages. The 12-hour mesquite-smoked pork shoulder ($16 for a half-pound serve) was perfectly cooked, and provided a great excuse to pour the house-made BBQ sauce and fiery habanero onto the plate.

The chicken wings ($12 for six) are already making a name for themselves, and there are plenty of sides to accompany your meaty choices — think house made pickles, freshly baked jalapeno and cheddar cornbread or tangy cabbage, carrot and onion coleslaw.

The homemade pies will have many cinematic moments flash through your mind (pecan, apple or banana cream pie, anyone?) and provide a damn fine full stop on the menu.

Also a saloon, cocktail bar and absinthe house — with a 24-hour license, no less — Le Bon Ton is a real all-rounder. It's sure to lure you in, whatever your fancy, and provide enough reasons for you to sit and enjoy, hour upon hour, snack upon snack and Sazerac upon chest-hair-inducing Sazerac.

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