It’s a perfect name for a French bistro – Bon Ap. This is actually described as a ‘petit’ bistro, occupying one of the lovely old buildings in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, a food-mad inner-Melbourne suburb.

The Clean Plate Club wandered down there on the tram after work one evening, celebrating having FullAsAGoog home from Hong Kong for a few days. Exploring Brunswick Street is a great option for foodies – just do it on foot or use the tram. Parking around this area is notoriously difficult to snare and time limits are strictly enforced. Fretting about getting a ticket is not conducive to a relaxing meal.

Bon Ap opened in early 2016 and pays homage to French bistro classics. In typical French style, it’s open early to late . At dinner, the small menu also offers an ‘a table’ feature. For A$45 a head, the kitchen will send out a selection of food. It seemed like a good deal and we settled on that after we’d negotiated the various allergies and preferences. Ordering some cocktails and contemplating a red for later on, the four of us sat around the table and watched as platters of varying sizes were placed in front of us.

First up were the croquettes of the day. These were large, very golden and very tasty; a little unusual in that they included cauliflower in the mix. Delish and always a good way to start.

French bistro Melbourne Bon Ap

Golden croquettes

Duck confit rillettes were up next. A pile of the duck was presented with some crusty sourdough, pickled pearl onions and some cornichons. Rillettes aren’t generally elegantly presented; this was perfectly pleasant, if rustic.
French bistro Melbourne Bon Ap

Duck rillettes

We were then given one of the restaurant’s standard dishes, a selection of pickled vegetables. Greedy Girl is the first to admit she doesn’t eat anywhere near enough vegetables (apart from mushrooms, which are on the menu every week) and these were very appetising. The tang from the pickling was nice, if a little one-note. Still, it’s a great dish for sharing.
French bistro Melbourne Bon Ap

Pickled vegetables

Next up was marinated octopus, served with a profusion of salad. Again, a rustic presentation but bright and vibrant. We all heartily tucked in but the octopus was just  a bit too chewy. When the staff came to clear the plate, they enquired why it hadn’t been devoured like the other dishes.  We commented about the texture and they nodded – but more on that later.

Given Nuts About Town doesn’t eat red meat, our main course was coq au vin. Greedy Girl would have been happy to spirit away the cast iron dish it was served in. The dish itself was very edible, if not a rave. For Greedy Girl, it needed oodles more of the lovely rich, wine-y sauce she loves about coq au vin.

French bistro Melbourne Bon Ap

Coq au vin

But the best element of the savoury courses came out with the chicken – the most amazing green beans, dressed with shallots, nuts and some divine butter. Nuts About Town got a dish without the nuts. We all agreed that veggies don’t get much better than this though, if truth be told, the beans were probably just a delivery system for the extraordinary butter. Delish.
French bistro Melbourne Bon Ap

Some incredibly good green beans

For a French bistro, there was one small disappointment – no frites. Perhaps we should have stipulated that we’d like them at the outset but it didn’t occur to us we wouldn’t receive them. A note to make for future dining – ask for the chips!

While there wasn’t much discussed about the octopus when the plate was taken away, we were in for a nice surprise when it came time for dessert. The kitchen kindly brought us some extra treats. We shared the chocolate mousse, FullAsAGoog’s favourite creme brulee, plus a very good tarte tatin (pictured at the top of this post). Ate His Crusts also took the cheese platter. Under the deal, we were only entitled to two desserts to share, so we definitely scored here.

French bistro Melbourne Bon Ap

A rich, dark chocolate mousse

French bistro Melbourne Bon Ap

Creme brulee

All told, we had a lot of food and it was very good value for money. Was it the best French food you’ll ever eat? Possibly not, but great for a small group (although bigger groups can book the function space upstairs) and an enjoyable night out.

Bon Ap is the brainchild of several French expats – the three owners are all from various parts of France as is the chef Arnaud Mallet. They style their food as more contemporary cooking but there’s certainly enough familiarity for lovers of French cuisine to enjoy a satisfying feed.

Bon Ap

193 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Bon Ap' Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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