It’s been cold in Canberra the last few nights. It’s the middle of summer and the mornings have been <10 °C (<50 °F). I’ve heard that Thredbo (~200 km SWS) has been having 0 °C (32 °F) mornings. I’ve been trying to enjoy summer salads for dinner but my mind is playing tricks on me. A night out for a hot meal is in order…at Eightysix in Braddon.
We had a booking for 6.30 pm and I was told a second sitting occurs at 8.30 pm so we’d have to be out by about 8.15 pm. This happened last week at Sage Dining Rooms too. Being told there is a need to finish my meal isn’t a time and motion problem for me, I tend to eat quickly. The deadline though, does generate what I believe is unnecessary anxiety which is not good for digestion. Perhaps restaurants that have a two sitting policy should consider charging the first group of patrons by time rather than per dish or offer a discount for those who vacate their table 30 minutes prior to the deadline.
Parking in Braddon on a Friday night is a difficult proposition but we find parking spots a few streets away and manage to arrive at 6.30. We’re shown a table near the entrance which enjoys the breeze from the front door. On a warm night this would be pleasant but I reckon in winter we’d ask for another table unless the door was kept closed.
The service at eightysix is warm, friendly and energetic. We’re greeted by two wait staff, one of whom remains as our main contact through the evening. Because we’ve been here before an explanation of the menu and ordering process isn’t necessary. To make it easier a printed menu of a piece of paper is also provided along with a wine list. Eightysix is about communal eating so all the dishes are designed to be shared at the table. Bron suggests I make a first scan of the menu and choose. The first thing I see and the item my eyes fix on is a whole shoulder of lamb. I can’t get my mind off it. After a few minutes Bron suggests we have a light starter. Bron suggests a blue cheese, apple, walnut and witlof salad. Our waiter agrees and mentioned the bitter witlof is best eaten as a ‘spoon’ to hold some of the cheese, walnuts and apple. When we mention the whole shoulder of lamb we’re asked if we’re sure we can finish it off. Bron laughs, points at me and says that it won’t be a problem. We’re told it’s substantial but not gigantic, our waiter points to one of the bar staff who she says finished an entire shoulder to himself. In my mind I know if he can do it, I can do it too.
So we ask for the witlof salad and the whole shoulder of lamb.
This was a large plate of salad with more than enough witlof ‘spoons’. To keep the witlof upright some cheese had been used as ‘glue’ on the base of the plate which could be collected with a fork and eaten with the apple batons and green leaves. This salad was delicious with each element combining to form a magnificent biteful of joy.
Just a bite size portion on my plate
After a reasonable period to digest the salad and develop anticipatory hunger for the main course we were served a fennel salad which was quickly followed by the centrepiece of the evening’s meal.
When our waiter delivered the lamb on a plank she ceremoniously plunged the spoon into the flesh and said it’s been cooked for 18 hours and there’s no need for a knife to cut this.
This was my first plate. The lamb was gorgeous. It just melted in my mouth. Having the salad as well as the quinoa tabouli plus the cabbage made eating the meat easier. Just having the meat would have made the meal a little boring. We finish the entire joint and when our plates are cleared we’re congratulated. Apparently some people cannot finish eating all the meat from the bones and this seems like such a waste.
After the main course we were told about the desserts. The choices included a banoffee pie, margareta, caramelised popcorn sundae and a chocolate creation.
Bron went for the banoffee with fresh banana and I asked for the popcorn sundae.
Bron said she really enjoyed the fresh bananas in the banoffee pie. She said the pretzels also added a nice salty contrast to the sweetness of the condensed milk and richness of the cream.
The popcorn sundae was a salty sweet crunchy bowl of happiness. I love this dessert.
Eightysix is a modern upbeat venue with a great menu, energetic staff and an infectious vibe. I’d happily recommend it for dinner for a small or large group. There’s also seating at the bar so you can watch the kitchen staff do their thing.
Telephone 02 6161 8686
Address Elouera Street. Mode 3 Building Braddon ACT 2612
Lunch Tuesday to Sunday
Dinner Seven Nights