Le Tres Bon: French for 'let's have lunch in Bungendore'
Reviewing snails on the road to Australia's South Coast
I’d never paid much attention to the town of Bungendore, probably because it’s the unnecessarily early toilet stop on the way from Australia’s capital to the South Coast. Braidwood is a good halfway mark, has a model car shop, and is only 40 minutes on from Bungendore - so all respect to the locals, but I’ve always felt your town was a bit pointless.
However, I was wrong. It turns out Bungendore has a leather craftsman’s shop that’s worth going into just for the smell, while across the road is the legendary Bungendore Wood Works Gallery, with its coffee tables with blemishes inlaid with glass, and Jacaranda and Wenge chess sets selling for $825. It’s clearly where you go to decorate your house.
It’s on this same road that you’ll find the oldest building in Bungendore, home to the French restaurant apparently well-known in the region, Le Tres Bon. It’s a cottage so unpretentious you almost think you’re breaking in when you give the old painted door a shove.
Inside is the same; modest and more like a French farmhouse, with fire place and pictures on the wooden walls, that you’ve been invited to, than a conventional restaurant. It, and the accompanying cooking classes, are run by French chef Christophe Gregoire and his Italian wife Josephine, and there’s that sense from the welcome you wouldn’t ask to speak to the manager or the chef. You already are.
Not that there’s any place for Karens -the food is so good even Google Reviews has to give it 4/5. The produce is local, and as Bungendore is a truffle region, Les Tres Bon has a dedicated truffles menu, which I ignored, choosing escargot (“from my garden” said Christophe as he put it down), duck confit, which fell off its bone into the orange sauce, and Bergamot crème brulée. It’s the three-course option with Kir Royale (blackcurrant liqueur and champagne), for $80 – up until you also decide to have a glass of red.
Glorious snails, with sourdough. (Unfortunately a FoodTribe review was an afterthought so all available pics are cropped and rubbish)
I can’t claim to be a great food critic, as I love McCafe blueberry muffins more than homemade muffins, but it’s one of the loveliest lunches I’ve had. Not just for actual food – but the fact you’re enjoying it in what feels like a best kept secret in a country town. I love a city restaurant you crash into from the rain and expect to be quietly seated and served as much as anyone, but Les Tres Bon is a rustic kind of different.
Hence why I’ve decided future South Coast trips are going to look like this: Lunch at Bungendore, suspiciously long toilet stop involving Model Cars of Braidwood, and fish and chips on the South Coast.