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