Open Mon–Sat 5pm–midnight
Spread over a grand three-storey Georgian townhouse 86 is visually striking, oozing sophisticated glamour. Think low-lighting, mosaic floors and antique mirrored ceilings. The ground floor’s centrepiece is a long, sleek polished steel bar surrounded by the drinking area which in summer spills out on to Fulham Road. Climb the spiral staircase and you will be dutifully rewarded with an unrivalled view of the networking below from the impressive open mezzanine. Unfortunately the first floor dining area was quiet on our visit, which is surprising given the standard of food they are serving up. Maybe downstairs is just too much fun, or maybe it is the top-end prices keeping the diners at bay.
On balmy evenings you can spot 86 from 100 yards away, just look for the well-dressed locals littering its doorway and fringing the busy Fulham Road. It seems these boys have certainly put the bar on the map (on our way out we exchanged pleasantries with Chelsea’s blue blooded socialite Guy Pelly). The ground floor bar is full of young career professionals and Chelsea trustafarians.
Eighty-six aims to offer ‘affordable luxury and indulgent fun’ and this intention is clear from their set menu featuring lobster, foie gras and cote de boeuf. However at £32 for two courses it feels steep given its location and proximity to a certain Michelin-starred pub with lower prices – especially when you consider the more decadent options carry an additional charge. However it can’t be denied, the food is fantastic; thoughtfully compiled and precisely executed – not surprising coming from television chef Mark Broadbent.
The menu has a clear Euro focus with the odd dish sneaking in from further afield. My friend Hugo’s starter was one such exception; scallop ceviche. The dish, stemming from Peruvian heritage, features raw white fish marinated in lime, lemon, garlic and a host of other delights, served with tomato and avocado. Being allergic to scallop I could not try the dish but Hugo’s face spoke for itself; I think the word was ‘sublime’. Hugo was clearly an experienced 86er following the ceviche with lobster on sourdough toast (+£5). I watched with envy as he devoured the generous portion of perfectly poached, buttery flesh which melted in the mouth.
My ox-tail and porcini ravioli was delicate in both presentation and texture, but certainly not in flavour. Served in a fresh tomato brodo (a light Italian stock) the unassuming dish packed a real punch in the flavour stakes and was the perfect choice for a light supper. Next time, however, I will undoubtedly be ordering the lobster.
For desert we enjoyed a light, creamy buttermilk panna cotta which came accompanied by a tarocco and blood orange salad, proving a juicy, refreshing kick. The rhubarb fool looked promising too; another dish to add to the list for next time!
This bar takes its drinks seriously and has an affordable entry level with cocktails from £7 and wine from £6 with a pleasing variety available by the glass. Despite having a seasoned wine cellar and a host of high-end bottles, they have obviously taken care to cater for every price bracket with wine starting from £18 (I spotted a dozen bottles on the menu for under £25) a bottle and steadily rising to £1,100.