If you’re pining for a trip to Paris but want to avoid the jetlag then an evening at C’est Bon Restaurant and Le Bon Bar in Brisbane might be the cure. Combine a heritage building with a touch of stylish European decor, sprinkle with some attentive French waitstaff and finish with innovative French cuisine and you have a recipe for a great dining experience.
The menu at this Woolloongabba restaurant featuring contemporary French cuisine comes courtesy of Chef Andy Ashby who creates dishes that captivate and deliver on taste and style. And with C’est Bon there is a lot of style, with a blend of heritage and modern design that sets the standard for the restaurant with three levels of drinking and dining spaces to suit every taste and mood.
From the entry, you’re presented with the Art Deco inspired curves of Le Bon Bar which channels a Parisian bistro and makes you immediately want to pull up a seat and enjoy a cocktail or espresso, depending on the time of day. Unfortunately, our time is short and the restaurant is popular with many patrons at the door ready to indulge so we head straight in for dinner.
After a quick check of our reservation (yes, you will need one), our charming French waitress sees us to a romantic table for two. Wine and food menus are presented with flair and water is offered with an accent that has me reminiscing of past journeys to Europe that seem so long ago. After a brief daydream, I start paying attention to the sizable wine list and food options which are many.
Fortunately, we are visiting on a Friday which means we can opt to indulge in the standard a la carte menu consisting of small and large plates designed to share, or a five or eight course chef’s tasting selection which is only available on Friday and Saturday nights. Wine matching is available with the degustation at an additional cost with a choice of Australian (from $50) or French (from $70).
We opt for the smaller five course chef’s tasting selection menu and ask our waitress whether she recommends Australian or French wine matches. Being French, her answer is no surprise. French it is. The amuse bouche sets the scene for what’s to come. We are presented with two beetroot tartlets which add a pop of colour to the plate, sitting alongside boudin noir (black pudding) eclairs which taste as good as they look. Sophisticated and classic yet creative, it’s obvious we’re in for a good night.
What is presented next takes us by surprise given the sophistication of the previous dish: a duo of what looks like simple dinner rolls. However, these are no ordinary rolls. Pulling apart the soft bread, we discover the cake-like structure of a brioche bun with whipped French butter that has us trying to stop at one bite to save room for the upcoming courses, but failing miserably. Note to self: visit C’est Bon for breakfast and indulge in some more of these bakery treats as soon as possible.
The first course is a contemporary take on Little Miss Muffet’s favourite dish, curds and whey, with camel fromage with smoked cucumber and whey. This dish was surprisingly light but full of delicate yet intense flavours and accompanied by a glass of Laherte Freres Extra Brut Champagne that, to be honest, was not to my taste but had my dining partner in raptures.
Finishing the crumbs from the brioche bun, we arrived at the second course of scampi with sweetcorn and saltbush. This is a beautifully presented dish that surprises and delights with epic flavours and also comes with the offer of Russian caviar. As if this dish was not amazing enough, it is paired with a 2019 Francois Chidaine Touraine Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley.
From here, we moved to a classic petite pork belly served with carrot, mustard and caraway jus which is a ‘no seafood’ substitution for the fish that usually makes an appearance here. It’s a delicious and well executed dish that’s showcased with a perfect wine match, Les Vignes Blanches Pernand-Vergelesses (Chardonnay) with rich flavours of hazelnut butter, vanilla and lemon.
Loosening a belt notch, we arrived at the penultimate dish of wagyu beef with cos heart lettuce leaf and sesame and coffee flavours. This dish was our only slight disappointment as we felt it would benefit from a more robust side or sauce to further enhance the flavours of the beef. Again the wine stood out with a glass of Côtes de Bordeaux Les Cerisiers (Merlot) with dry, full bodied cherry flavours.
Then it was time for my favourite course: dessert. This was almost too pretty to eat but my spoon was ready and waiting. The pretty blood orange sorbet with champagne and finger lime sauce creation reminded us of a frozen Mimosa. It was not overly sweet so the glass of Pineau Blanc Cognac Drouet & Fils (Cognac) provided the perfect balance. This fortified French wine has intense flavours of honey and dried fruit and will do a cheerful job of dashing any thoughts you may have had about driving home if you order it at the end of a night out.
As we finished the last morsels of dessert, a small bowl of madeleines arrived, their delicate dusting of sugar seeming like the icing on the cake of a magnificent dining experience. At this stage, we were already planning a return visit for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just not on the same day. As we thank the waitress for her great service and rave about the bread, she tells us about Le Bon’s pop up bakery which may become a permanent addition to the restaurant’s portfolio in the future. Next time we need to check the bar upstairs as well.
The combination of a heritage building with modern decor and design, charming service and excellent food and wine makes this establishment a go to venue for a casual bite, corporate event, romantic interlude or dinner with friends. Or a drive by stop at the new pop up bakery.
Disclosure: The writers dined as guests of C’est Bon and would not hesitate to return to this venue at their own expense.