Monday, 5 December 2011

The good vintage of Eighty-Six

I first met George Adams, the co-owner of Eighty-Six, when he worked at The Admiral Codrington some years ago. I remember him being especially personable and even when I turned up with a raucous crowd after a lavish lunch hosted by friends in the private room of Cipriani, he handled the situation most appropriately. If I recall correctly, I certainly owe him an apology for my conduct that day so here George it is.

 The ground floor bar of Eighty-Six

Whilst my American hosts that day sadly went on to join the many victims of Bernard Madoff and his Ponzi scheme, Adams has gone on to open a restaurant that has featured in City AM’s “Bill of the Week” column after a pair Russians splurged £1,704.54 there last November on two burgers, a bottle of Dom Perignon, a bottle of Mouton Rothschild 1986 and 2 shots of Russian Standard. The age of Great Gatsby-esque excess plainly isn’t truly dead here in Chelsea yet.

Since it opened in November 2010, I’ve been to Eighty-Six a couple of times for drinks and attended several parties there, but last week I was invited to try the Sunday lunch offering and found it truly impressive.

Eighty-Six sits on the site of Brian Stein’s Cactus Blue but is far more traditional in style than its Mexican themed predecessor. Whilst Cactus Blue was the scene of the arrest of James Hewitt after a sting involving a TV presenter named Alison Bell, who also happened to be a former girlfriend of The Earl Wessex, Eighty-Six has quickly established a reputation for excellent cuisine and a buzzy atmosphere.

Styled by Design LSM, who are also responsible for Sam’s Brasserie, Tom’s Kitchen, Roti Chai and Galvin LaChapelle, Eighty-Six’s main features are a striking industrial staircase and dark wood paneling. Eccentric animal head portraits by Charlotte Cory and racy images by Bob Carlos Clarke feature throughout the building and with a bar, dining gallery and private room, there’s space for all manner of gatherings.

The first floor galleried dining space at Eighty-Six

Aydon Yeaman, formerly of Rosa’s Dining Room, recently took over as Eighty-Six’s head chef and refashioned the “Brit staples” menu to make it more varied and flexible. Bread is now made on the premises and olive oil comes from an Italian farm owned by George Adams’ mother. Seafood, in the main, comes from The Wright Brothers and meats from Select. Yeaman has also introduced lighter and more female friendly dishes such as a lobster ravioli with fresh pasta, lobster and shellfish bisque (£16) that has immediately become one of the restaurant’s bestsellers.

The weekend menu itself includes traditional brunch offerings such as a full English breakfast complete with bacon, sausage, black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns, toast and eggs to order (£16), bacon baps (£6) and American-style pancakes (£8). For those seeking something heartier, there’s also a 6oz filet steak (£25) and a shepherd’s pie made with salt marsh lamb (£12).

Last Sunday, my companion began with a cauliflower soup (£6) that he found most tasty whilst the Salcombe crab spring rolls (£10) that I opted for were packed with plenty of crab meat and most enjoyable.

The roast chicken (£18) and roast rib of beef (£19) we each followed with appeared in a large pan with all the trimmings. Both portions were generous and the creative presentation sets this offering apart from other Sunday lunch spots in the neighbourhood.

The wine offering ranges includes both £20 Australian chardonnays and a 1996 Ch√Ęteau Cheval Blanc at £445 a bottle. In honour of the restaurants name, a whole selection of fine wines from 1986, a year said to be “a good vintage with a good concentration of fruit,” priced between £225 and £1,100 a bottle.

Whilst Yeaman comments that he’s still testing his menu and will fine-tune it after Christmas, I would suggest that he’s already got it right with his Sunday offering. Try it before the secret gets out.

Eighty-Six, 86 Fulham Road, London, SW3 6HR. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7052 9620. Website:

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Anonymous said...

Sounds much better than the old place: now that was a dive.

Anonymous said...

Good tip.