I’ve always really liked Eightysix, small caveat that I do think their service is really um, interesting and overly friendly but hey you can’t hate someone for being too nice! I’ve been to Eightysix a couple of times for dinner and tried various items from their menu and I can’t recall a single dish that I just outright disliked. Eightysix’s menus were always fresh, fun and exciting. So when I heard that Eightysix would be serving brunch on Sundays throughout October for Good Food Month, I got pretty excited. What crazy, interesting and delicious concoctions were they going to come up with in the confines of breakfast food?!
Over the four weeks of Good Food Month, I actually never managed to try it out because well, ah, I just forgot really. I’m really bad at these Good Food Month events. I was distraught, thinking that I had missed out forever on blood pudding muffins, jaffles and other goodies but alas because it was so successful Eightysix have decided to continue serving brunch on Sundays. Good news for me and for anyone else who didn’t get to try it out during Good Food Month because it’s something that all breakfast and brunch lovers should try out. Unless of course you only enjoy traditional eggs your way with toast and tomatoes for breakfast. There’s nothing wrong with that. Imagination is overrated. I kid.
The brunch menu at Eightysix is indeed interesting, cool and exciting as I had hoped for. You won’t find any of your typical breakfast or brunch items on this menu! There is no egg benedicts, bacon and egg rolls, or big breakfasts. Instead Eightysix has taken all the basic ingredients that you expect to find in a breakfast menu and completely reinvented it. It’s not only the food that is interesting, Eightysix has also mixed up some interesting concoctions for us to slurp up as well. There is of course tea from T2 and coffee from Lonsdale Street Roasters as per usual, but there are also a handful of weird and interesting drinks and shakes.
On the day we headed out to Eightysix it was completely storming and windy outside, we headed out at 11.30AM and managed to grab a seat at the bench. There was plenty of seating outside with only one brave soul daring the weather. Though I imagine on a nice day, finding a table might be a bit more of a challange, especially as more and more of Canberra learns about this place. I’m not sure when they stop serving brunch but according to Eightysix’s Facebook page, they’re open for breakfast on Sundays from 9am to 3pm.
Anyways, time to talk about the food.
Our first dish for the day was the Popcorn chicken with maple ice cream and waffles ($22). I love chicken and waffle and for ages I always complained that I couldn’t really get it anywhere in Canberra and then suddenly out of nowhere, bam there are two places now doing it as a part of their regular menu. 1. Smoque’s new store in Woden which serves American style breakfast and does a pretty awesome chicken and waffle, and other waffle varieties. 2. Now Eightysix right here in Braddon is also offering this fantastic dish. I probably won’t compare the two chicken and waffles, both have their merits, Smoque’s is a lot more American and traditional whilst Eightysix’s is really interesting and different. The one at Eightysix is a lot more expensive, and it’d be hard to compare them without value getting in the way, so I’m just going to leave this well alone.
So how are the chicken and waffles here in EightySix? Pretty fantastic. It’s not a huge serving, the chicken here is definitely “popcorn” chicken, and you get half a waffle but I guess, EightySix isn’t really a “shove a giant pile of food in front of you” kind of place as it is. The popcorn chicken was cooked perfectly with a super crispy crumbled coating on the outside while the inside remained super soft and tender. The chicken was heavily seasoned and it was really as close as you can get to KFC while keeping things classy, this wasn’t just pure breaded chicken that’s for sure. The waffles were amazing! It was really crunchy, both inside and out, and this helped it to handle all the lovely maple syrup that was drizzled over the top without going soggy.
A cool feature of this chicken and waffle was a generous sprinkling of cornflakes, and this is definitely something I’d want other places to pick up! They added some great crunchy texture and sweetness that went so well with the globs of maple ice cream and syrup. This was a great little dish to start with, couldn’t have gone better!
Next up, the Black pudding and egg muffin ($14). A fascinating take on an old classic. Instead of your typical bacon and egg muffin here you get some delicious black pudding. For anyone who is unsure of what black pudding or blood sausage is, it’s essentially a sausage with a little bit (or a lot) of blood mix into it but don’t let that freak you out or get squeamish it’s actually absolutely delicious. I know, next I’ll be saying, “hey everyone eat monkey brains they’re delicious!” Seriously though, blood is actually fantastic, and I implore you all to eat it.
Now this could be a bit of a biased view here, because I’m a huge blood pudding fiend that likes anything pudding, but the blood pudding here was absolutely amazing! It’s a wonderful addition to this tried and true concept and really gave this old classic a whole new dimension. It’s really hard to describe the flavour of blood pudding, it’s like a traditional pork sausage, with just a lot of spices and a tinge of sourness to it. The muffin was soft with some nice butteriness to it, not too much to make it too brioche like but just enough to make it enjoyable. There were also some greens for some freshness and some thinly sliced red onions. A fantastic part of this dish was the fried egg! It’s weird to be saying that because egg is kind of eh, but there was something about how thick and nice this was that made me want more and more. The egg yolk was cooked entirely through (though I think that was on purpose) and I would’ve preferred it runny, but can’t argue with the chef here.
I think I like this whole idea of replacing bacon with blood pudding, it truly is delicious. Someone should make a “double” using blood pudding, two slices of blood pudding with an egg in the middle of it. I’d eat that.
Finally, a Duck bun with pickled cucumber ($8). This duck bun was really enjoyable, unfortunately when this came out, it was just about the time when we realised that we probably ordered a bit too much. Like everything on Eightysix’s brunches menu this was a take on a traditional favourite. It takes elements on the pork bao that you expect to find at places like Ippudo etc. in Sydney and Melbourne and then adds it’s own EightySix spin to it.
The duck meat here wasn’t a standard “duck pancake” style duck (which would’ve annoyed me, because you always get barely any duck in those things) it was instead shredded up and full of flavour. It was actually quite salty but worked well with the super soft and slightly sweet bun.
A lot of the time, for those pork bao’s I feel like the bun itself takes away from the whole dish, because it just overpowers the fairly delicate pork flavours, so the saltiness of the duck really helped offset that. I actually really liked the bun, its like a little different to your typical bun, it also a lot softer and a little thinner as well, so that further enhanced the flavour of the duck itself. I wouldn’t be surprised if this bun was made in house, that or Eightysix completely over steamed it, I’m hoping it was the former, though in hindsight, I guess it doesn’t really matter, it was fantastic!
The strong flavours of the duck combined with the soft sweetness of the bao was the perfect match for the chilli sauce (I’m assuming Sriracha because its so ‘cool and hip’ and I think one of Eightysix’s staff also mentioned it) which added a lot of kick to these little bit size treats and a little bit of sourness for contrast from the pickled cucumber as well as some great crunch and texture. Also I must add, it was a very good amount of duck meat in our bun, which is always welcome.
We ah…kind of went a bit crazy with drinks (i.e. we got 3) so uh, get ready for some beverages! First up, we grabbed a Caramel milkshake ($7). There’s a rule that I have these days, whenever you go to a fancy mod oz cafe, you must get a milkshake, why? They’re always funky that’s why! They usually either have crazy ingredients like popcorn bubblegum surprise, or they’ll use milk from a cow that’s been meticulously manicured whilst under a waterfall of children’s tears. In either case, you kind of need to try it.
The caramel milkshake here at Eightysix was solid and delicious but it was a tiny bit of a let down, though I’d say, based on my previous cow expectation, combined with how good the food was, maybe I was just expecting a bit too much here. Based on how cool the whole food menu is, I kind of thought the drinks would be really crazy too, like The Cupping Room’s salted caramel milkshake which actually has a mound caramel popcorn onto of the shake, but alas, this is a standard caramel milkshake.
Don’t get me wrong, as far as caramel milkshakes go, this was really fantastic! It had a really strong caramel flavour to it, with a slight bit of smokiness as well, which really gave it an interesting edge. The shake was super creamy and sweet but not overwhelming. It was a really solid classic milkshake, so good stuff.
Couldn’t say no to some complementary Berocca to help us wake up! I really liked this concept, it’s not complementary in the traditional sense but it is free. I guess pretty much, you don’t just get served with Berocca (and/or Nutri Grain cereal which is also free but we didn’t get any, because well, cereal) when you are seated, those items are listed on the menu as free and when you order it, it is indeed free, which is kind of cool! Any of you people out there who share meals with people, but always feel the need to try and ensure you get more than 50% of the food don’t really need to do that sort of stuff here! Just order Nutri Grain and Berocca!
At first we kind of hesitated but after ordering our food we figured what the hell, this is a cool concept, we’ll get a cup. A couple minutes after speaking to the staff at Eightysix, our cup came out with a fizzing Berocca on the bottom, you can kind of see it there in the bottom of the picture. Anyways, I don’t think I’ll actually talk about how Berocca tastes, I imagine its the same from cup to cup. But a really cool concept from Eightysix, and I would be ecstatic if more cafes or restaurants to started doing things like this.
Last but not least, the Orange, passionfruit and elderflower cooler ($8). This was a very strong wake me up drink though I’m not sure it was supposed to be. The passionfruit really came through in this drink, there was no doubt about it that this drink contained passionfruit whatsoever, you don’t even need a descriptor. I guess what I’m trying to say here is, the passionfruit was pretty strong.
With all things passionfruit, this drink did have quite a bit of sourness to it. The orange was sutble with its flavour coming through as a nice aftertaste. I should mention, I don’t know if I tasted any elderflower in this but elderflower is a much milder flavour so I can see the passionfruit and orange completely overwhelming it. Nevertheless, it was still a tasty and refreshing drink. This would be absolutely great for the warmer weather that we are having, that we somehow didn’t have on this particular day. Munching on some trout salad, sitting in Eightysix’s outdoors sitting area and sipping on this, its like you’re at the beach right in the heart of Canberra. It is sour though. Really sour.
This was an awesomely amazing brunch at Eightysix, so far I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve had here, I absolutely cannot wait to come back in the near future to try out some of Eightysix’s other goodies including the hot dog, salmon carpaccio, bolognese jaffle and more! In hindsight I’m probably going to have to come back 2 or 3 more times to sort all those out. I’m so glad Eightysix has decided to experiment with breakfast and kept it going because I’m really loving this fun and experimental take on traditional breakfast and brunch goodies. I imagine Eightysix being the hip and cool place it is will change this menu from time to time, so if anything on their current menu excites or intrigues you, definitely check it out before they change it up.
I’ve attached a copy of Eightysix’s current food and drinks brunch menu here for anyone who is interested.