Having heard significant buzz about 86, Braddon’s hippest new joint, Goosepig and I ventured down for lunch today.
We had a truly magnificent meal but it is not without flaws and reservations.
For a start there are no menus. There is a chalkboard inside, but if seated outside you’re at the whims of the waiter’s memory. With some of the dishes coming in north of $50 it can be a bit of a surprise.
They have one of the best beer selections in town (in quality if not variety) and we were told long necks come in paper bags (oh so ironic). But it comes at a price. Moo Brew is $13 for a small bottle.
So for most this will be a treat destination and not an everyday drop in.
Barcham and I have been evolving a theory that the cooler the venue the more uncomfortable the seats.
On this measure 86 is heading towards sub zero.
Having taken our uncomfortable seats the waitress tried to explain to us the concept of shared food they have going.
I wish I could find the quote but I remember AA Gill’s thoughts on restaurant “concepts” being something like this:
How about I tell you a concept for a restaurant?
I sit down. You bring me a menu. I choose some food. You bring me the food. I eat the food. I pay for the food. You get me my coat.
It’s a simple concept which has stood the test of time.
86 subscribes to more novel concepts.
For the prices being charged the staff really should be making the customers feel like they (the customers) are the hippest people on earth.
Instead the staff set about making sure everyone knows they (the staff) are the hippest people on earth.
We ordered the ghetto beef and a side of vegetables, and two moo brews. The waitress was very worried this wouldn’t be enough food for us so we added the BBQ chicken and cole slaw.
Sitting near the cash register we could see our bill was already up to $106 which was a bit steeper than we’d planned for lunch.
At this point we were feeling a little uncomfortable, and a bit overwhelmed.
To be fair, 86 having just opened, we got the impression the staff were somewhat in the same boat.
After a bit of a wait our vegetables arrived, and were deliciously caramelised. And then came the seemingly simple sounding BBQ Chicken and Coleslaw.
The waiter who delivered it was very clear we needed to squeeze the lemon wedge all over the chicken. I did as instructed and was wonderfully rewarded.
I’ve eaten a lot of chicken in my time and this might well be the very best I’ve ever had. The chook had been thoroughly marinated and brilliantly BBQ’d.
The accompanying coleslaw, on the other hand, was without a doubt the very best I’ve ever had. There’s some very high end smoked meat in there, bacon doesn’t begin to describe it.
The portion, it must also be said, was huge. Basically half a chicken.
Our waitress thankfully noticed we were struggling and asked if we’d like to cancel the ghetto beef? Which I did with a heavy heart, it being the part of the meal I’d been most looking forward to.
Throughout we were constantly being asked if were were enjoying the meal, to the point of it being a bit much.
In the end a filling and astonishingly delicious lunch with two of the world’s finest beers came out to $78.
Right now the staff have got a few rough edges within the margin you’d expect from a newly opened place.
So despite the somewhat confusing “concept” dining, the staff who aren’t quite on their game, and the steep prices, there does come the simple issue that the food is magnificent.
I will be going back because I wan’t to see what the rest of that blackboard has to offer.
86 is at 86 Elouera Street Braddon, in the Mode 3 building just off Lonsdale Street.
6161 8686 for bookings (recommended, they’re busy).