I'm a spottily employed journalist with a love of books and "genre" movies living in Brisbane. I have no blog as it's much too self-aggrandising.
Published August 16th 2011
C'est Bon is one of those restaurants people tell you to not even bother about. Not because the food is bad, but because the 40 seat restaurant is almost always booked out.
You won't get a table for a couple of weeks," people tell you.
It's always booked out."
Well, I don't know how it happened. Maybe while one of my dining companions made the booking some cash miraculously ended up in somebody's pocket. Or maybe we just got lucky. Who knows? Either way, somehow we managed to get a table for three with less than 24 hours notice.
I'll tell you something for nothing - there's a good reason why this place has been nigh on impossible to book. It's pretty damn good.
C'est Bon is a small restaurant situated in an unassuming shopfront at 609 Stanley Street, Woolloongabba. The decor is fairly standard with white walls and tablecloths contrasting with timber floors and dark timber chairs. There is a staircase running up to the second story which holds their wine cellar and function room. Although it's often a tight fit, the space never feels cramped or claustrophobic thanks to the large floor to ceiling front windows.
Trying to keep our costs low and our waistbands looser, we opted to skip the entrees and go straight to the main course.
Looking at the menu, it's amazing to see how many of these dishes are simple, peasant food that has had a little modern flourish to make it a bit different.
The bouillabaisse ($33.90) was presented simply in a white bowl with plenty of mussels, prawns and calamari nestled under a white fish fillet. The serving was generous on the seafood and the tomato based broth was the perfect accompaniment.
The lapin (rabbit, $33.90) was served with a white wine and fig sauce on a bed of wilted spinach and polenta. The farmed rabbit was much less gamey than wild rabbit and almost had the white flesh of chicken. The more delicate taste of the farmed rabbit complemented the rest of the dish beautifully.
Cassoulet ($33.90) is the epitome of peasant cuisine but none the worse for it. The serving of confit duck leg, pork belly and a pork sausage were nestled in a pan of white beans with a rich and hearty tomato broth. It was superb.
For dessert, my two dining companions decided they wanted the crème brûlée ($14.90) while I decided to go for the vacherin glacé (14.90).
On arrival at our table, my dining companions cracked into their dessert and nearly simultaneously they gave an exclamation of delight and insisted I try it. I cracked through the thin, slightly burned sugar shell to the creamy custard below and experienced a taste sentation. The slightly bitter flavours from the blow-torched sugar offset the sweetness of the delicate custard while also adding their own toffee taste.
The dessert vacherin glacé is probably the most spectacular dish on the C'est Bon menu.
A few minutes later, my vacherin glacé arrived. It was easily the most elaborate meal of the night. A tower constructed from a meringue base, a layer of sponge cake, a sphere of strawberry sorbet and a piping of cream was then wrapped in a cylinder of spun toffee. To garnish, the plate was dotted with apple puree on one side and strawberry puree on the other. The whole dish was lovely and tasted great but the apple garnish was a bit of overkill. They should have just stuck to the strawberry theme.
The service was great. The staff were attentive without seeming to hover and certainly knew their stuff. The wine list was extensive with Australian as well as French varietals ranging from $36 for a Leeuwin chardonnay to $420 for a bottle of Dom Perignon, Épernay.
Forgetting the wine, to get in and out of a French restaurant of this quality for less than $60 each is a rare thing. I'll recommend C'est Bon to anyone who asks.