EAT­ING OUT AND DRINK

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - If you know a restau­rant Ron should re­view, email ron­mackenna@fast­mail.fm

THERE’S an awk­ward mo­ment in­side the very tight en­trance, some aim­less hang­ing about and then we scut­tle back out of Six by Nico and into the restau­rant next door to cool our heels over a glass of wine un­til our ta­ble be­comes free.

My fault. It tran­spires that we’re 15 min­utes early, and that at 9.30pm on a Tues­day, yes Tues­day night, Six by Nico is still com­pletely, ut­terly mobbed. Crikey. In Glas­gow, too. It also turns out that the restau­rant next door with plenty of free ta­bles and lots of cool, airy space that we pop into is Al­chemilla, which turns out to be last month’s, er, flavour of the month.

In such ways do the tides of restau­rant fash­ion ebb and flow, I say in suit­ably pompous restau­rant re­viewer fash­ion to Gor­don later as we are squeezed back into Six by Nico at the two-seater by the win­dow. He’s not lis­ten­ing, as usual, spell­bound per­haps by the sight of wait­ing staff lift­ing smoke-filled glass domes from some­thing that’s cun­ningly, or per­haps not, called smoked sausage. This will turn out to be crispy lit­tle pork sausagey thing, a black pud­ding sand­wich and some twisty, tangy ap­ple and cele­riac.

“I’m go­ing to ex­plain ev­ery sin­gle course to you,” the waiter had promised as we or­dered. “Please don’t,” I thought. They do any­way, recit­ing a bound­lessly point­less in­gre­di­ent list be­fore ev­ery dish. They are, how­ever, serv­ing a six-course fixed menu which in­cludes such whim­si­cal ti­tles as Chips and Cheese, Scampi, Steak Pie and Spe­cial Fish. But there’s a fine line be­tween the­atre and bab­ble, a po­ten­tially fa­tal gulf be­tween show and tell. Too many restau­rants nowa­days can’t wait to tell you how great they are in menus or scripted waiter blurb, for­get­ting we’re go­ing to find out the sec­ond we fill our mouths.

And we’re roughly 30 sec­onds into the Spe­cial Fish – cod, pick­led mus­sels and sam­phire since you ask – when we find out just how good Six by Nico is. “Mmm,” we both say, picking up fork­fuls of creamy white fish, nuggets of art­ful chip-shop bat­ter adding crunch. “Ex­cel­lent.” Full of flavour, fresh­ness and, yeah, fun.

Has Nico, the chef-pa­tron, who’s in his open kitchen right now, shared too much in­for­ma­tion in his pre­vi­ous restau­rants? Here? He still can’t re­sist a good blurb, I think, as we pick our way through Chips and Cheese – a cup­ful of con­fit potato, mus­tard crumb and parme­san es­puma. Pretty good show too, though they need to watch the tem­per­a­ture of all the in­gre­di­ents.

And Scampi? Crumbed monk­fish cheek served in a scal­lop shell with sponge. “Sponge?” I had asked the waiter. “As in cake sponge,” the cou­ple sit­ting at the next ta­ble chimed in. In uni­son. (Yes, the ta­bles re­ally are that close.) Dashi was poured over the whole thing and the sweet, savoury combo was con­sumed with plea­sure.

Now nei­ther Gor­don nor I has ever tasted a Deep Fried Mars Bar be­fore. And I can ex­clu­sively re­veal this: by the time we have fin­ished this one – caramel dol­lops, a fried pas­try or bat­ter bot­tom – we still won’t have. It’s the weak­est dish in a good meal that started well with Snacks and Bread – for an extra fiver. “One will be enough for two,” our neigh­bours at the next ta­ble had vol­un­teered, and they were right. We crunched a squid cracker, tried had­dock bon-bons, had lots of fresh bread with lash­ings of but­ter and sooked sur­pris­ingly good salt and vine­gar peanuts. When you think what other restau­rants charge for ex­tras …

The theme at Six by Nico? They do make

such a damn fuss about it. Ev­ery­thing we have eaten tonight comes un­der the head­ing The Chip­pie, and there’s al­most as many lit­tle bat­tered bits as there is sam­phire and pick­led lime.

Do I have a prob­lem with that? Nope. They are also go­ing to change the menu theme ev­ery six weeks. Am I hugely ex­cited by that? Nope. Nei­ther of these things gets at the ge­nius of Six by Nico. The pric­ing does – it costs just £25 for all this.

How do they do it?

PHO­TO­GRAPH: MARK GIB­SON

At £25 for food of out­stand­ing qual­ity the six-course tast­ing menu at Six by Nico rep­re­sents match­less value for money

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