Groovy, cool and pretty special

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LET’S get the meaning behind the name out of the way.

Is the groovy-hip-too-cool-for-words new restaurant Eightysix named after its street address? Nope.

Its phone number? Kind of (6161 8686).

EIGHTYSIX_052Well what then? It’s the hospitality code word for “eightysixing” a dish… to strike it off the menu when it’s no longer available.

It seems everyone is talking about Eightysix, co-owned by Sean Royle and Gus Armstrong. However, Canberrans are famous for racing to anything new and then slowly trotting off in another direction, unless the dining spot they’ve discovered is pretty special. Is this the case with Eightysix? My dining experience so far tells me this place is pretty special.

The menu is written in white chalk on a blackboard stretching across the length of the restaurant, above comfy, bench seating, which makes it easy for Eightysix to eightysix.

Salmon fillet with horseradish cream and pickled vegetables.
Salmon fillet with horseradish cream and pickled vegetables.
Chef Michael Carey is creative. His ceviche – raw bream marinated in lemon with chilli for kick, coriander for that fresh taste, and diced red capsicum for colour and texture ($19) – was sensational and beautifully presented. Speaking of beautiful. Eightysix uses fine stoneware ceramic tableware from Bison, founded in our own backyard in 1997 by the talented Brian Tunks.

Next up was duck salad with delicate individual leaves of brussels sprouts (yes, they’re good for you) and little dollops of creamy Bearnaise sauce ($24). The dish packed a punch with flavour and the duck was mouth-wateringly tender.

We were four and so ordered the whole lamb shoulder, as recommended. The dish came on a thick wooden board and we squeezed heaps of lemon on the meat and squealed with delight when it fell off the bone.

The meat was a tad salty (so was our green salad), but we agreed it was fabulous. It was $64 and would easily have served six, making the dish great value. It came with a small bowl of cous cous salad and a small bowl of red onion salad. We thought both serves could have been slightly larger.

To finish off, we shared two decadent desserts – the ginger brulee with quince chutney and a deep, dark-chocolate terrine with plum cherries ($14 each).

EIGHTYSIX_063 At Eightysix you can also dine sitting at the long bar watching the goings-on in the kitchen – a fascinating experience.

Eightysix celebrates local talent, including with branding by Canberra’s graphic designer and artist Luke Chiswell, and a great set of chairs by Canberra’s Tom Skeehan, an accomplished industrial designer specialising in commercial furniture and home objects.

Eightysix, Mode 3, Elouera Street, Braddon, call 6161 8686.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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