Admittedly, I was a bit apprehensive about walking into Eighty Six. After all, I was so used to 86 Fulham Road being my favourite tequila bar in London. Sadly, Cactus Blue closed its doors for the last time during the summer and its loyal customers were left in the lurch as to what might take its place.
Last week, this question was answered as I walked past No. 86 to see that the lights were on inside. And so as quickly as I could, I headed back there to see the transformation for myself and of course to see what delicious treats I was hoping to find on their menu.
My drink of the night was the Yellow Pepper, which contained rose liquor, vodka, apple juice, vanilla, yellow pepper and lemon juice. The rose, apple and vanilla must have worked to soften the flavour of the yellow pepper because the yellow pepper wasn’t overpowering at all. If anything it was delicate. My favourite drinks are those that look deceptively simple but are wonderfully complicated when they hit the taste buds and this was one of those drinks.
The Yellow Pepper hasn’t fast become a favourite but it was an exciting departure from the familiar selection on most cocktail menus. Simply delicious.
When Cactus Blue’s doors closed this summer, it was a very sad day. All that was left of this Chelsea institution was a note on the door to thank everyone for the great memories. Months later, and a new bar and restaurant called Eighty Six has opened in its place and I have to admit, the new ground floor layout is infinitely better.
The main bar now sits to the left of the room and there is an extension towards the back, giving the ground floor a whole new space to play with. Eighty Six doesn’t have the crammed feeling associated with Cactus Blue. And with a great cocktail list and retro dance music, the atmosphere on a Saturday night was very buzzy.
Earlier that evening, I had popped over to Brick Lane for a private viewing of Stephen Santos’ art exhibition. Whilst the event was successful, with a great crowd stepping off the streets to join the party, I couldn’t help but wonder why I had to endure such a difficult journey east thanks to London Underground’s engineering works to see the exhibition of a Chelsea artist. I wondered why Chelsea’s art scene was restricted to Park Walk and Lots Road. What about the other local artists with more experimental works?
There was a time in the 60’s when Chelsea College of Art was influential with the fashion, music and graphic design scene that gave King’s Road the edge. Now, Chelsea College of Art has moved to Pimlico and the local art scene is determined by the commercial tastes of gallery owners and not the attitude of artists.
I know of one local artist who will soon be setting up a pop up exhibition using one of the empty shop units on Fulham Road. It would be great if Alahna Fiveash’s show could help inject artistic energy back onto the streets of Chelsea. Why should East London have all the fun?
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