Sunday, 20 October 2013

Good Food Month - Lunch @ Eightysix

As part of Canberra's first Good Food Month, Eightysix are putting on a special lunch each Sunday of October for $55 per person. The Good Food Month website states, 'Prepare to share some bright spring options including some bubbles to set the mood.' There wasn't any other information available such as how many courses or what exactly was being offered for the $55, but my last experience here was fantastic so I was happy to take a chance.

When my partner and I arrived at 12.30pm, there were a few people sitting outside and only about 3 tables of people inside. A glass of champagne per person is also provided as part of the lunch. Our friendly waitress explained how it would work - they would basically keep bringing out dishes until we were full. Oh yes - all you can eat baby! She asked if anything on the menu caught our fancy or if there was anything we were curious in trying. One of the ideas for this lunch was to get diners to get out of their comfort zone and try something they wouldn't usually order. My partner asked for no coriander and I said no chilli. But other than that, we were willing to try anything and everything. We were more than happy to trust our waitress.
Without knowing what was coming, we waited. First out was the McAsh Rock Oysters (usually $4 each) - normal raw oysters that tasted good with a bit of lemon on top.
The scallops, black pudding and pickled fennel came out next (usually $7 each). This was my first time trying black pudding and found it was actually lovely and warm. The best way I can describe it is like a high-end meat pattie. I thought it worked well with the scallops and I was left wanting more.
The prawn avocado ceviche with cumin flatbread was next (usually $27). This usually has coriander and chilli in it, but was taken out due to our preferences. The cold ceviche was like a salsa mixed with corn, avocado, capsicum and mint leaves. I thought the ceviche was fresh and slightly sour from the lemon juice that must have been mixed in it, but you get used to it. There was a nice portion of prawn meat. The cumin flatbread was interesting - I broke this off easily as it has the texture of a smooth tortilla chip with some cumin seeds on top. I used this to scoop into the ceviche salsa-style. There was a bit too much mint and a lot of it was left on the plate. Still a nice dish for the warmer months. 

The quinoa tabouleh with preserved lemon was next (usually $24). This was the one dish my partner would not have picked, but ended up being his favourite. The quinoa was mixed with rocket, chopped up pistachios, onion and some cherry tomatoes. I love the different textures - the pistachios gave it a nice crunch. A refreshing dish, perfect for summer! We asked for a take away box to take the rest home as it was such a huge serving. I must try and replicate it. The chef mentioned it used to be just a side salad with another main meal, and they've recently turned it into its own meal. If I worked near Braddon, I'd order this for a healthy lunch. Yum!
Next was the ricotta gnocchi with lamb, capsicum and anchovy ragu (usually $30).  The gnocchi was fresh and perfectly cooked, and the dish was topped with orange gremolata made of onion, parsley and some orange rind. The pulled lamb was tender and there was a lot of it mixed into the ragu. Neither of us could see any chunks of anchovy, however the ragu was quite salty and we realised the anchovy must have been blended into the ragu. This hid the taste and visual of a whole anchovy. I quite liked the dish.
Next was the mozzarella and anchovies (usually $24). A whole ball of mozzarella with pesto on top, surrounded by strips of salty anchovies. Not a dish I would’ve picked, but then that was the whole point of this lunch. The mozzarella was cold, fresh and pretty perfect for a gorgeous Spring day. The anchovy on its own is just face-pullingly salty. Eaten with a chunk of mozzarella and some pesto provides a nice balance in flavour and texture. I thought this was better suited as an entrĂ©e to share, rather than a main meal on its own.
After that, the waiter asked how we were going and we were pretty much stuffed. However, dessert was on our minds. I’ve been wanting to try their caramel popcorn sundae (usually $14) for a while now, so that was ordered. We asked what the waiter recommended for another dessert. He said that given the warm day, the lemon curd may work well. We took his advice and ordered that too.

The caramel popcorn sundae was the best dish of the day. This was heavenly with lots of different elements - two scoops of vanilla and butterscotch ice cream, unsalted popcorn, caramel sauce, chunks of peanut butter brittle and a cute upside down mini waffle cone. Presentation was unique and pleasing. This dessert also made the cover of a popular food magazine. Everything worked and I ate in blissful silence as I stole most of this from my partner. I cant imagine anything that would make this sundae better.
As written up on the blackboard, the dessert was named, ‘the lemon curd, raspberry, elderflower jelly, yoghurt and shortbread thing’, (usually $14). It was nicely presented with 3 lemon curd quenelles sitting on some buttery shortbread, with some piped yoghurt, cubes of jelly and fresh raspberries. I don’t usually order lemony desserts and didn’t like this – the lemon curd was a beautiful consistency but just too lemony for me. The raspberries and the yoghurt were both quite sour, and with the tartness of the curd, the whole dessert was just too acidic for me. I couldn’t even taste what flavour the jelly was because the sourness was too overpowering. I wouldn’t order this again.
By around 2pm, there were a lot more diners – probably people coming in after Sunday brunch. The atmosphere is laidback and casual with rockabilly music playing in the background – Eightysix can certainly pull off a relaxed Sunday. We were asked if we’d like more champagne. Since I don’t drink alcohol, I asked if I could have a juice instead. Our waitress had to go into the kitchen to see what juices were available but they didn’t have any. They did have oranges that the kitchen staff could squeeze into a juice for me but it would take a bit of time. I felt bad for asking them to do that so I stuck with my water. But it was very kind of them to offer. Service by all wait staff was friendly, sometimes humorous, and we were told what was in each dish. Even one of the chefs brought out a dish to us and asked what we thought of the food. I was happy I got to try a few new things that I would not have usually picked. The scallops, quinoa tabouleh, gnocchi and the caramel popcorn sundae were my favourites. There is only one Sunday left this month, so check it out and enjoy :)

Foodgasm 7.5/10
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