I’ll admit the temptation to start this review with some Americanisms (yeeehaw!) was strong, as this time around, Nico is taking us on a journey along a (fictitious) Route 66, the iconic American highway.
But no, I’ll refrain as I think it’s best to let the food do the talking and whilst it may have been inspired by our American brothers, it’s safe to say that as usual, Six by Nico offers up some interesting twists on some well known dishes.
On to the menu and I should point out that the one that was listed on the website (below) differs slightly from the menu you can see in the image above, same basic idea though and I take it as a good sign that they’ve continued to refine and tweak each dish right up until it launched.
- CHICAGO – Crisp Tart / Trapanese Pesto / Goats Cheese / Olive Tapenade
- GREAT PLAINS – Buffalo Mozzarella / Tomato Essence / Basil Oil
- AMERICAN DINER – Chickpea Pancake / Maple Syrup Mayonnaise / Guanciale
- TEXAS – 24 Hour Barbecue Brisket / Chilli Bon Bon / Sweetcorn Puree
- NEW MEXICO – Sea Bream Taco / Guacamole / Pickled Chilli / Lime
- CALIFORNIA – Lemon Tart / Orange Espuma / Red Wine Sorbet
As ever, we ordered the snacks to start and were treated to a tiny peanut butter milkshake, nachos, and a corndog. The corndog was a wonderful little ball of moist, flavour packed nom (seriously, what even is a corndog?) with a daub of spicy ketchup adding a nice edge, the milkshake was tasty but way too small and the nachos were disappointingly basic. It’s the first time I’ve experience that ‘hey I could make that’ moment at this particular establishment.
The first course arrived briskly and marked the first stop on the tour at the mighty Windy City itself. A take on the eponymous deep pan pepperoni pizza, what arrived was very far from what I had when last in Chicago. A few slivers of pepperoni, some rich goats cheese, a subtle pesto and a smear of olive tapenade was an intriguing combination. The crisp tart added a nice crunch, and the small chunks of candied black olive brought some much needed sweetness to the dish, off-setting the tart goats cheese and spice of the pepperoni. And hey, who doesn’t love pizza, right?
The Great Plains awaited next and I’ll happily concede that this was my least favourite dish purely because it heavily features tomatoes (of which I am not a fan). That said it was a very fresh and vibrant dish, with fennel crumb and a delicious dressing lifting what could’ve been a rather predictable mozzarella and tomato dish. A few drops of balsamic reduction helped cut through sweetness and whilst it wasn’t my favourite it certainly wasn’t a bad plate of food, which my companions confirmed.
It’s a long way from Chicago to the Great Plans so I was glad to see an American Diner loom on the horizon and after the first mouthful of succulent pork and chickpea pancake I was even happier. The accompanying celeriac coleslaw and pickled celeriac slices, coupled with some fresh green apple chunks, really helped cut through the dense richness of the marinated pork, and the chickpea pancake had a nice crisp bite on the outside and was a lot lighter on the palate, and stomach, than expected. A smart take on pork and apple, what a great dish.
Now on every road trip, there are a couple of destinations that you really can’t wait to get too, and whilst the journey is the important thing, knowing that next up we would have a plate that consisted of 24 hour barbecue brisket it was with some excitement that, as the plate hit the table, I tucked in. Hoooo mama!! The star of Texas was that slow cooked barbecue beef which had a wonderful chilli sear but was so soft it fell apart with a gentle prod of my knife. Then there was the sweetcorn salsa which, along with the pureed sweetcorn was absolutely delicious and really complimented the richness and deep flavour of the beef. I had no idea sweetcorn could taste that good, a revelation on the tastebuds. And lets not forget the chilli bon bon sitting to one side, a little deep fried ball of chilli that had a nice kick without being overpowering and helped combat the sweetness of the corn, bring a nice balance of texture and flavour to the plate. But the beef, ohhh the beef! I’m always a fan of well prepared and perfectly cooked beef and this was that and then some…
Editors note: I have removed the next couple of paragraphs as they mostly repeat the above sentiments, just in different ways. Short version is he REALLY REALLY enjoyed this dish.
It was a sad heart that I waved goodbye to Texas (or at least the plate as it was taken away) but New Mexico beckoned which meant it was taco time and at Six by Nico that meant a perfectly pan fried piece of sea bream, on a bed of the BEST guacamole I’ve ever tasted, and some kick ass pickled chilli to cut through it all. A sliver or two of taco added a much needed crunch, but despite some robust flavours, the sea bream was the star of the show and definitely held its own.
By this point in the meal I was starting to feel quite full – are the portions a little bigger this time to reflect the American theme? – but we had a long drive ahead from New Mexico to Calfiornia!
And what a reward awaited us. Lemon tart, orange espuma, and a red wine sorbet (with an extra hidden ingredient that I won’t spoil) sounded ok on the menu but OH MY HEAVENS. A perfect flavour combination, lead off by a ridiculously light lemon tart with a lightly bruleed crust, think whipped up lemon curd and you are getting close, and the orange espuma (and hidden ingredient) brought the tart back to earth only for a ridiculously good red wine sorbet to flood your palate with a wonderful berry richness, that in turn was cut through by the lemon tart which was… well you get the picture. I loved this, a lot more than I thought I would and it’s a perfect example of what Six by Nico does; delivering a dish that exceeds your expectations in delightful and delicious ways.
And that’s not a bad way to finish a meal… sorry, road trip… and overall this menu is up there with the other menus we’ve had the joy to savour. If I was ranking them (which I guess I am about to do) it wasn’t quite up there with The Chippie but I’d say Route 66 is easily in third place, or tied for second? It feels a bit mean to rank the menus against each other though as, on their own, they all have some superlative dishes to offer.
As ever, the menu had something for everyone and the standard of cooking is now as expected, very high and very well presented. This is clever, tasty, imaginative food which is never ever a bad thing, and the joy of the fixed menu continues to delight. The service is friendly, relaxed, as is the atmosphere in the restaurant (ohhh and top tunes on the playlist for this one, all the great driving American rock tunes were there) and, and I know I am repeating myself, this is all for £25 for six courses of high quality food (plus drinks and snacks, but still). £25 for food of this quality is ridiculous, so even if you don’t like every dish, it’s still a BARGAIN!
And so, sated and happy, my compadres and I osied off down the highway, ambling along the final stretch of road with no particular place to go. We definitely got our kicks on this Route 66, and I can’t wait to see where Nico will take us next.
You have 5 weeks left to try this menu, so I suggest you saddle up and head to Finnieston!
Also published on Medium.