C’est Bon, Cairns

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Since neither MS or I had time to celebrate Valentines Day on Valentines Day this year we saved our night out till the Saturday after and went and had dinner at C’est Bon together. We called up last-minute after umming and ahhing about whether or not we would get takeaway or go out and if we were to go out then where we would go. In the end MS picked up the phone and dialed the number for C’est Bon (after Googling it of course) and made a reservation for 8pm, much to my delight. He knows just how long I have been wanting to go there because I had never been so he made the decision easy. I was unsure if we would be able to get in on such short notice on a Saturday but luckily enough they still had a vacancy for the two of us.

We arrived on time after I painstakingly made my way from a car park in front of the Casino down the lane way and to the front door in my new shoes that I am trying to break in for a wedding (not my wedding, a wedding). Sadly I think it’s going to take a lot more wears than one night at dinner to break those puppies in. When we arrived we were greeted by a waitress and told her that we had a reservation for two. She gestured towards a small table out the front of the restaurant and told us that it wasn’t ready yet but we could either have a drink at the bar while she set it up or we could take a seat and she could set up around us. We opted to sit at the table while she set up around us although it would have been nice if the table could have been ready when we arrived seeing as MS had called up to make a reservation little more than an hour and a half before. Maybe they had been busy.

As I said earlier I have never once made it to C’est Bon, although I do seem to vaguely remember going to lunch or dinner there before it was C’est Bon. That must have been a very long time ago. Does anyone recall what was there before C’est Bon? Like I said before I’ve always wanted to dine at C’est Bon but just never got around to it. I guess it’s a little easy to forget about the place since it’s kinda tucked away down the end of Lake Street. I have heard only good things about the place and have a friend who regularly dines there with her partner. I also gave my parents a Gift Voucher for C’est Bon last Christmas since I am in the habit of giving them Gift Vouchers for dinner at Christmas time, some may think it’s a little impersonal but I like to think it’s very practical. Plus who doesn’t like going out for dinner to a nice restaurant that is already paid for? Mum and dad thought it was very nice BTW. Although I did study French at school for five years, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to travel to France so I really have no idea what French food is other than frogs legs and escargot. I was however pretty sure that the ‘Sandwich au Jambon’ so regularly spoke about in French class wouldn’t be making an appearance at C’est Bon.

When the waitress was done setting up our table she brought us out a couple of menu’s to look at. We had pretty much already decided that we were going to go with the set menu which includes an entrée, main and dessert for just under $50. I ordered a glass of Pencarrow Savignon Blanc (AU$9) while MS being the grandpa that he is ordered a glass of coke. The waitress told us that the Set Menu changed every month and that the Fish of the Day was Saltwater Barramundi. While we waited for our drinks to arrive we had a look over the menu. There were three options to choose from for each course and in the end we both chose exactly the same thing. For entrée we chose the Seared Squid Served with Sautéed Capsicum, for the main we chose the Pork Belly Resting on Slowly Cooked Lentils, Carrots and Bacon and for dessert we chose the Oozing Chocolate Fondant Served with Vanilla Ice Cream. To be honest I wasn’t too taken with the Set Menu, although squid, pork belly and chocolate would rate high on my list of favourite foods. It just sounded… well… boring. Other options to choose from included Cauliflower Soup or Ratatouille for entrée, Lamb and Saltwater Barramundi for main and Macaron and Creme Caramel for dessert.

Not long after we had ordered the waitress brought out a small dish with two bite sized portions on it and placed it in front of us without a word. The two of us exchanged a ‘what the hell is that look’ and when she didn’t tell us MS asked her what it was. She didn’t seem to know and mumbled something about salmon to us, shuffled around a couple of things on our table and left. MS decided that I could have both of them seeing as he doesn’t like salmon. I tried to convince him that he would surely like it and in an encouraging move I ate mine in one bite so I could tell him just how delicious it was. Turns out it wasn’t so delicious. It was ice-cold having come straight out of the fridge and the crostini type thing underneath was slightly stale from being in the fridge. The salmon tasted like salmon from a tin and the whole thing was so unappetizing that I couldn’t hide my distaste. It tasted like cat food and in the end I just told him it was yuck and not to eat it. I didn’t want MS to use that one little salmon bite as ammo for never trying salmon again.

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Salmon Crostini is that you?

Our drinks came out a good 10-15 minutes after we ordered them, in fact they took long enough that I wondered if they had actually forgotten our drinks altogether. MS’ glass of coke was very watered down which tells me that it had plenty of time for the ice to melt while it was sitting on the counter waiting to be brought out to us. My glass of Pencarrow was however very nice and I do love a good glass of wine (or two) with dinner.. While waiting for our entrée’s to arrive a male waiter whom I was most delighted to find was actually French (and not bad looking might I add) served us some warm bread rolls with butter. These were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside and with a slathering of butter the two of us practically inhaled them. Seeing as we don’t eat bread very often, it was a bit of a treat for us.

Warm Bread Roll

Warm Bread Roll

Not long after our entrée’s arrived, again with the French waiter. The Squid appeared to be the whole mantle of the squid with the membrane still attached sliced down the middle and seared so it curled up. It was delicately placed on top of a bed of Sautéed Capsicum and beneath it was a small pool of squid ink. The squid tasted beautiful and fresh, although a touch overcooked. I didn’t like the Sautéed Capsicum but then again I don’t like capsicum. I tried to palm the capsicum off to MS but he didn’t seem too keen on it either. By the time he had finished his dish he figured out what the black stuff on the bottom was and asked me if it was squid ink to which I nodded and said I didn’t say anything to him sooner because I wasn’t sure if he would eat it. He didn’t seem too bothered about it but that was after the fact. He really is a big baby when it comes to food sometimes. The waiter then came and cleared our plates and we waited for the next course to arrive.

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Seared Squid Served with Sautéed Capsicum

About 10 minutes after finishing our entrée our main’s arrived. The waiter placed a plate down in front of each of us with an enormous portion of pork belly on it. I was expecting far less at such a fancy restaurant but was pleasantly surprised. Sitting on top of the pork was what appeared to be poached pieces of apple and underneath was a sea of lentils. Come to think of it there was no bacon or carrots on the plate as stated in the set menu but then again the apple wasn’t mentioned either. The pork appeared to have quite a large layer of fat between the crackling and the meat but it seems I was mistaken because when I cut it open the majority of it was meat. The layer of crackling on the top was really chewy and although it took me what seemed like an eternity to saw through it with my butter knife I did eventually get there, with hard work and determination. Not MS though, he pretty much gave up and left the ‘crackling’ on the side of his plate. The pork would have been better if it was crunchy and crackly like it was supposed to be. The lentils on the bottom of the dish were very hearty and the two of us found them to be too way too rich. I found the whole dish to be very heavy which is normal for pork belly but a drizzle of some kind of sweet sauce would have done wonders for it since the small slices of poached apple on top were just not enough. We were both disappointed and probably only ate about half each. The French waiter came out to clear our plates and asked if we had enjoyed our meal to which we replied ‘Mmmm yeah’. It was a lie really.

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Pork Belly Resting on Slowly Cooked Lentils, Carrots and Bacon

Next up we sat and waited for our desserts to arrive. After waiting a good twenty minutes and our dessert hadn’t yet appeared the French waiter came over and said that there was only one Chocolate Fondant left for the two of us and asked if we would like to choose something else. Neither of the two other choices on the Set Menu (the Macaron or Creme Caramel) excited us so we asked if we could see their ‘norma’l dessert menu. In the end after much “I don’t like that” and “I don’t like this” we both decided to stick with the chocolate theme and ordered a Chocolate Mousse. About 5 minutes later our Chocolate Fondant and Chocolate Mousse arrived. The Chocolate Mousse had a large ‘crisp’ of chocolate draped over the cup that it was sitting it which melted almost as soon as it was walked out the C’est Bon doors and into the ensuing humidity.

Rich Chocolate Mousse with Chocolate Crisp

Rich Chocolate Mousse with Chocolate Crisp

We shared our desserts but I’ll admit I got most of the Chocolate Fondant to myself and it was definitely the better one of the two. Digging my spoon gently into the side of the fondant sent warm chocolate oozing out all over the plate. I guess that is why they call it ‘Oozing Chocolate Fondant’. It was delicious and we each enjoyed spoonfuls of fondant with ice cream and a little mousse on the top. We were in chocolate heaven and the dessert course was certainly the highlight of our meal at C’est Bon. Shame though that we couldn’t have both had a Chocolate Fondant like was originally planned.

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Oozing Chocolate Fondant Served with Vanilla Ice Cream

While we were finishing up our desserts and I was wallowing in a sad sea of my own C’est Bon expectations (aka I was disappointed with the place I had built up so much) a friend of ours, SBD, walked past on his way into town. He stopped and chatted to us asking how our meal was and blah blah blah. I told him that I had thought it would be better and we were both pretty disappointed with the food that we were served during our three course set menu. SBD was surprised since he dined at C’est Bon often and loved the place but he told us that the regular chef was away on holidays and the owner was taking his place in the kitchen in the meantime. That explained why our meal hadn’t been up to scratch but still didn’t make me feel any better about what we had just eaten and what we were just about to pay for on our belated Valentines Day dinner. It was displeasing to hear that the one time I had finally got my shit together and made it to C’est Bon the regular chef was on holidays. I’m not saying that the food was bad but it wasn’t close to good. Again the Oozing Chocolate Fondant was definitely a hit for both MS and I but we had to share it and opt for a more mediocre dessert to take the place of the second one. The squid and pork belly dishes for entrée and main respectively seemed unimaginative and lack-lustre with both of them missing that little something something. The service that we received from the French waiter was standout and second to none. He was friendly, personable and authentic. There is something about a guy with a French accent that just does it for me (and most women I am assuming). The guy could tell me that my dog had just died and I would just smile and nod (PS: I don’t have a dog, I’m a cat person). The same cannot be said for the female waitress who just didn’t seem to be at all happy to be there on her Saturday night. Also, we only had our waters topped up once and no one came to ask if we wanted another Coke or glass of wine. It was frigin hot outside too so more water wouldn’t have gone astray. Having the regular head chef away is really no excuse for serving below par food and the food should be of the highest standard regardless of who is in the kitchen. Still, all is not lost with me (just yet) and C’est Bon and I will most certainly return one day when the regular chef is back from his holidays, though hopefully sooner rather than later. C’est la vie.

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C’est Bon

20 Lake St, Cairns QLD 4870

Ph: (07) 4051 4488

Opening Hours: Tues – Fri 12pm – 2pm, Tues – Sat 6pm – 10pm

Website: http://www.cestbon-cairns.com.au

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Posted on February 24, 2013, in Cairns and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Hurray you finally got there, but how annoying that the regular chef is away! Kind of glad we didn’t make it there for V Day as I would have hated to have a disappointing meal there. Their lemon tarts are awesome – will definitely be ordering this next time I go. Give it a while for the normal guy to come back and then try them again.
    Totally agree on the french accent xx

  2. I’ve had bad (not just below par) meals at C’est Bon as well – both when Junelle was there, and since. I’ve given up. There just is no excuse for serving a substandard meal, and then expecting payment! This is sadly typical of the state of dining in Cairns, and the reason the tourists think we’re such a joke. I’m disappointed you’ve decided to let them slide for what was clearly a major collapse by this place.

    • Hi Jim since this was the first time I had dined there and the regular chef wasn’t there I am willing to give them another go and only because I have heard good things. I also think that the regular chef not being there is no excuse for having bad food. The food should be up to standard at all times and I was very disappointed that I had wasted my V Day meal on a substandard dining experience. I think C’est Bon might be resting on their laurels a bit being the only French restaurant in town and I can assure you if and when I do return and have another substandard meal I will give them a canning next time. Disappointing to hear that you have had many less than ordinary meals at C’est Bon. Maybe it’s just another one of those Cairns restaurants that used to be good. Frankly I am getting sick of the shitty food and service in Cairns because there honestly isn’t more than a handful of high standard restaurants in the whole town. Writing the same thing over and over again makes me sound like a broken record.

  3. I’m sad to say I too have had a very similar experience at C’est Bon, I dined there with friends just before Christmas and boy was I unhappy with the food and service. So displeased infact it was enough to make me rate them on trip advisor. The female waitress completely annoyed the hell out of me with her bad attitude and the lack lustre food is something which I will never return for. You would think French food would be full of glimmering goodness, but not at C’est Bon!

  4. Same experience here as well, but the other way around. First experience was fantastic, pork belly succulent and the rabbit cooked perfectly (which can be hard to do- the only other place that I have had it cooked that well was a Gordon Ramsey restaurant).
    We couldn’t wait to go back….but the next visit was a totally different experience! Flabby unseasoned pork and dried out stringy rabbit. All served with a side of attitude and disinterest. So I’m kind of thinking that a third chance won’t be on the books!

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