Bon Ton Café

February 2016
By: Chef John Besh, Lucky Peach

We have so many restaurants here in New Orleans that are over a hundred years old. You’re not even an established restaurant until you have twenty or thirty years under your belt. A lot of times, these places have fallen off the map of what’s hip, cool, new, and cutting-edge, but I find something real and intriguing about a place that has stood the test of time.

One of these is the Bon Ton Café, a quaint bistro-style restaurant that specializes in real Cajun cuisine, located right around the corner from my restaurant, August, in the Central Business District. It’s like you’re sitting at your Cajun grandmother’sdinner table, set with the old checked oilcloth covering, a bottle of Tabasco, and some crackers. It could be the 1950s. It’s how old New Orleanians would have eaten. I’ve watched New Orleans grow and I’ve seen it rebound, but there are parts of it, places like the Bon Ton, that should remain the same.

The drink to get at the Bon Ton is the Rum Ramsey. They’re crazy secretive about what goes into it, so I can’t really say exactly what it is, other than it’s a rum sweet and sour. It’s part of their tradition, and not a drink that I would have anywhere else.