Looking for places to eat in a new area is pretty tricky. I’m often torn between local knowledge, shop front allure and recommendation apps. So over the first few weeks in Canberra I collated a whole list of places recommended by colleagues, friends and local knowledge. After much scrutinising – as you can imagine, stuff like this actually causes anxiety for me – I chose to visit 86 in Braddon as a bit of a celebration/treat night.
Guys, I was totally offered a permanent job! So of course I had to treat myself to a perhaps slightly over the top dinner. As this was a pretty important event, because depending on my calculations I had been interning to unemployed for nearly 7 months before picking up any kind of full-time contract, I had to go all out. So after collecting a whole list of recommendations from colleagues, friends and local knowledge I excitedly decided I would celebrate at Eightysix. To be quite honest the clincher was a photo of their famed popcorn sundae (above) on Facebook.
I booked way in advance as I do in these situations and secured a spot on the bar so we could drool over our food before it arrived.
Tucked away just off Londsdale St, Eightysix is pretty slick. The seasonal menu is written across the wall of the darkly painted and dimly lit restaurant. There is a bar off to the right when you walk in and of course the kitchen stretching up towards the back.
No celebration is complete without a cocktail so promptly ordered a Jalapeño Margarita – delish! I love a good margarita any day and the gentle burn on your lips from the Jalapeño was a pretty wicked sensation.
We decided the best plan of attack would be to order two entre/sides, a single main to share and of course that amazing dessert.
The duck pancakes arrived shortly after ordering and were devoured only moments after. A perk of sitting at the kitchen was all our food was served from the chefs with a detailed description.
Next up was what has to be one of the most delicious fish dishes I’ve had at a restaurant – The “Bag Salmon”
To be quite frank my experience at 86 was heightened in part due to the fact it was cracking through the facade of my Sydney Snobbery. There were lots of oos and aahs because the experience exceeded things I was used to at the same price point at home. It was helped a little later on in the evening when we were waiting for our cauliflower salad (that had essentially sold out so we had the lucky last one) and met one of the owners of Eightysix, Sean Royle. Catching up on the latest goss with his pals, Sean was nice enough to share how the “Bag Salmon” was created almost by accident when he and his partner were trying to make their own dinner from the restaurant left overs.
It seemed hard to believe; when I’m left with leftovers you get fried rice. But before us was a gorgeously pink salmon pickled beetroot, juniper berry, vodka and a bay leaf for 24 hours before adding coriander seeds. The fish is then bagged and Sous-vide for 7 minutes before be pan fried before being decoratively garnished with a salad of radish, carrot, ginger and some citrus fruits – to die for. Harry still talks about it.
The cauliflower was a bit more of a hearty option next to the fish, fried cauliflower with some Jalapeños (now I know where all the extra Jalapeño juice for my cocktails came from) and some herbs.
We finished the evening in the most delightful way, having not one but two desserts – more out of necessity than greed. My Hulk of a boyfriend smashing through the glass that contained the Holy Grail Caramel Popcorn Sundae. Not that I was complaining when I got to have some more…
The overall experience at Eightysix, from the service (which I rarely take note of) to the food, was so impressive I have recommended it to literally everyone I know… and now some I don’t! After basking in our shock of the near perfect meal we were further impressed by seeing the chefs now stocking up the ovens to begin the slow cooking process for lamb and pork ready for the next day of service and 10 hours of cooking.
The whole feast including the 4 dishes and 4 cocktails was a pretty reasonable $140 and I would gladly return. I already have a list of desirables for my next order…