At Sunday lunchtime, the long benches of Eighty-Six Bistro Bar were deserted and its staff seemed unprepared, with many menu items ‘not ready yet’. By the evening, however, the place was absolutely bustling.
Wall posters provide a hint of French atmosphere, but the prices are a notch higher than the bistro norm. In recompense, starter portions are often large enough for a main course, and the menu lists the likes of foie gras and goose burgers (whether these are available is another question).
Chicken liver pâté was a smooth-textured circle of intense flavour, garnished with mixed leaves and a slick of caramel sauce. Hot baked aubergine with tahina was provided in a generous serving, but tasted rather more bland than when it’s given the Mediterranean treatment with garlic and tomato.
Our main courses were also hit and miss. Grills (lamb or steak) looked appetising, and ‘rose roast beef’ (intended as a starter) was generous. Expecting pink beef, we were surprised to get a thin, dark steak – it’s a shame staff didn’t ask how we wanted it cooked. The accompanying grilled peppers and courgette were tasty. Roast duck and plum sauce was disappointing (dry and tasting as if pre-cooked), but a bowl of freshly fried chips was overflowing.
Come here with a full wallet, but don’t expect the full bistro experience.