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Bon Ton Mini Mart

2036 Madison St., Henderson, KY - (270) 826-6643
Posted By Michael Stern on 9/10/2014 1:41:00 PM
A first taste of Bon Ton fried chicken, like a first kiss, is a never-to-be forgotten event. It is as stunning as a bite of aged country ham: shockingly spicy, salty, crunchy all at once. The meat itself is infused with a powerpacked spice marinade of cayenne and garlic that penetrates to the bone and the crust on the outside is dark and brittle like the best potato chip ever fried. Dark or light meat, Bon Ton chicken delivers a taste thrill like no other.

The formula for this amazing dish dates back to the 1950s and a restaurant in Henderson known as The Colonel’s Lair. It was a favorite haunt of local high school students and it was run by a man named Bill Koch, whom the kids called Bilko because that’s the way he pronounced it. All who remember The Colonel’s Lair agree that Bilko made the best fried chicken anywhere. In the state where Harland Sanders began a fried-chicken empire based on the secret recipe he used in the kitchen of his service station/café, such judgments are not made lightly.

Bilko is gone, but the amazing chicken is still served every day at the unlikely tables of the Bon Ton Mini Mart south of town. This pint-size restaurant, which is still a secret even to many residents of Henderson, began as a convenience mart and has slowly dropped the peripheral merchandise to concentrate on what’s really important: great fried chicken, as well as fried apples, hash-brown casserole, and escalloped potatoes.

There are other main courses on the menu, too: fried steak, burgers, pork chops on Thursday, chicken pot pie on Friday, and all are made from scratch by expert hands; but to come to this place and order something other than fried chicken would be like visiting New Orleans on a fast.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
fried chicken
Chess Pie
Banana Pudding
Biscuits
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

The crust is unbelievably crunchy and flavorful enough to make you dizzy. Here's a close shot.
"The crust is unbelievably crunchy and flavorful enough to make you dizzy. Here's a close shot."
Michael Stern





Chess pie is a simple formula, scarcely more than butter, sugar, and eggs; but in the hands of an expert baker, it can be an irresistible dessert. We think Bon Ton's version just may be the best we ever tasted. This photo shows only the outside half of a piece because someone at the table had already forked off the point!
"Chess pie is a simple formula, scarcely more than butter, sugar, and eggs; but in the hands of an expert baker, it can be an irresistible dessert. We think Bon Ton's version just may be the best we ever tasted. This photo shows only the outside half of a piece because someone at the table had already forked off the point!"
Michael Stern


Baskets of substantial biscuits accompany every fried chicken dinner.
"Baskets of substantial biscuits accompany every fried chicken dinner."
Michael Stern


The first time we ate at Bon Ton, we were so distracted by the goodness of the chicken that we forgot to take a picture of it. Here's a two-piece plate ... about to be devoured.
"The first time we ate at Bon Ton, we were so distracted by the goodness of the chicken that we forgot to take a picture of it. Here's a two-piece plate ... about to be devoured."
Michael Stern


A marvelous swirl of custard, softened cookies, bananas and meringue makes this pudding a quintessential comfort food dessert.
"A marvelous swirl of custard, softened cookies, bananas and meringue makes this pudding a quintessential comfort food dessert."
Michael Stern


An occasional dessert special, Kool-Aid pie (in this case orange) is smooth, light, and refreshing.
"An occasional dessert special, Kool-Aid pie (in this case orange) is smooth, light, and refreshing."
Cliff Strutz


In celebration of the dish that made the Bon Ton a destination for Roadfooders, decor includes countless chicken figurines.
"In celebration of the dish that made the Bon Ton a destination for Roadfooders, decor includes countless chicken figurines."
Michael Stern


The Bon Ton hasn't changed a bit since Louis Hatchett tipped us off to it back in 2000.
"The Bon Ton hasn't changed a bit since Louis Hatchett tipped us off to it back in 2000."
Michael Stern



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