LE BON TON

51 Gipps Street, Collingwood, 9416 4341

A culinary journey through the southern US that includes addictive fried chicken (buttermilk-soaked, of course) and tender, smoky pork shoulder, cooked for 12 hours over mesquite.

What the 2015 Good Food Guide reviewer said: Melbourne’s fascination with American-style food has served up a sizeable gaggle of threadbare imitators but it’s delivered some admirable authenticity, too. Enter Le Bon Ton, a former pub turned candlelit New Orleans-style bar-diner run by American brothers Will and Mick Balleau (from Richmond’s Chingon). They’ve installed more American brothers (Jeremy and Christopher Sutphin, ex-Fog) in the kitchen. The result? A culinary journey through the southern US that includes addictive fried chicken (buttermilk-soaked, of course) served with peppery gravy; scone-like jalapeno and cheddar ‘biscuits’; crisp, golden crab cakes teamed with bacon and spicy aioli; and tender, smoky pork shoulder, cooked for 12 hours over mesquite. With Texas chilli cheese fries and banana cream pie also on the list, the Heart Foundation is unlikely to award many ticks but the super-late opening hours, excellent cocktails and absinthe lounge make it clear that Le Bon Ton just wants to let the good times roll.

And
… They’ve installed custom-made barbecue smokers.
Vibe
Late-night in New Orleans.
Best bit
Food until 6am at weekends.
Worst bit
Oysters often sell out.


KONG

599 Church Street, Richmond, 9427 1307

Want smoky pork ribs, honey-sticky chicken wings and pillowy bao stuffed with soft- shell crab at this pumping, brightly lit Korean-inspired barbecue joint? Join the queue.

What the 2015 Good Food Guide reviewer said: Super-restaurateur Chris Lucas’ latest venture has been a smash hit from day one, with lengthy queues facing anyone foolhardy enough to turn up post-6pm. So what’s the fuss? Consider Kong the Korean answer to Chin Chin: a kimchi-driven, pop culture paean of a restaurant. The canteen-like space, all blond wood and green metal shades over utilitarian fluro lighting, showcases a huge menu taking its own slant on super-fashionable Korean, from ssam roti-rolls to fried chicken wings, steamed buns and the all-important barbecued meats. Start with kingfish sashimi humming with gochujang (fermented hot pepper paste) and jalapeno, and take a trans-continental trip with Korea’s take on beef tartare, with matchsticks of nashi and pinenuts; hit a kimchi hotpot with fall-apart beef rib and offset the richness with a side of spicy cabbage slaw. Rolls of paper napkins on each table help with mopping-up duties as well as emphasising the no-fuss attitude. For casual dining, Kong is king.

And … Their barbecue pits and ovens use only chemical-free, sustainable wood.
Vibe Glam-eteria.
Best bit Crowd-watching.
Worst bit The queues.

 

The Age Good Food Guide 2015 will be available for $10 with The Saturday Age on August 30 from participating newsagents. It can also be purchased in selected bookshops and online at theageshop.com.au for $24.99. #goodfoodguide