Bon Ap is different to most French places in town. There’s no steak frites or French-onion soup on the menu; no white tablecloths or waistcoated staff.
Owners Damien Desbois (from Brittany), Francoise Lowe (Arcachon) and Sebastien Carmona (Toulouse) want to show Melbourne what contemporary French dining looks like. Broadly, that means lots of smaller share plates in a more casual environment.
Chef Arnaud Mallet (another expat) keeps it simple. Early on there are croissants, toasted sandwiches, sweet and savoury waffles. Later, charcuterie and snacks such as olives and pickled veg.
If you’re sticking around for a full meal, there are three seafood dishes; steak tartare; and coq au vin and veal and pork meatballs delivered to the table in their own little cast-iron vessels. Finish with cheese or crème brûlée (no point doing away with all the classics, right?).
The wine list is similarly petite, due to budget constraints. The focus is on covering the major regions of France, which take up 80 per cent of the list. The remaining 20 per cent is drawn from Australian vineyards.
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