Category: Food

I love my food. I do not share my food.

Six by Nico: The 70s

Another menu, another visit to Six by Nico. This time round a menu inspired by the joyous food of my childhood in the 70s. I was tempted to don my flares and cycle there on my Chopper, but I was wary of being in some freak headline accident, ‘Man gets flares trapped in Chopper chain, falls under lorry’.

Still, it was good to revisit some of the beloved dishes of my childhood although I don’t recall ever having SPAM!

  1. SPAM & MASH – Potato Espuma, Smoked Ham Hough, Pickled Mustard Seed
  2. PRAWN COCKTAIL – Tiger Prawn, Baby Gem Ketchup, Tomato, Shellfish Marie Rose
  3. CHICKEN KIEV – Black Garlic Emulsion, Pea Pesto, Rainbow Radish
  4. SALMON TIKKA MASALA – Onion Bhaji, Caramelised Cauliflower, Lime Gel
  5. DUCK A L’ORANGE – Confit Duck, Aromatic Carrot, Orange Puree
  6. TRIFLE – Summer Berries, Saffron, Almond Sponge, Whipped Creme Fraiche

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Six by Nico: The 70s. What a meal! 👌

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Apertifs got us kicked off, and the Harvey Wallbanger certainly hit the mark and then, as always, SNACKS! Beef & Horseradish Vol-Au-Vent got us kicked off with bang, succulent beef in a crisp vol-au-vent with a subtle horseradish paste was a great way to get the palate warmed up, same goes for the Vegetarian option featuring fresh beetroot.

As I say I don’t recall having Spam but if it tasted half as good as the wonderful balanced dish I had last night then my parents will have a lot of questions to answer. A rich and creamy espuma, moist and lightly salty ham, and that pickled mustard seed to give it a little kick, a few spoonfuls of utter delight! Bring back Spam I say!

What’s more 70s than Prawn Cocktail? Well this one had three types of prawn – tempura, garlic and grilled – with a rich shellfish sauce, with some fresh tomato, grilled baby gem leaves and was definitely not the tangy, cloying affair of my youth. All three prawns were perfectly cooked, although the tempura was a little thick (IMO) making it more a battered prawn but still, no bad thing!

Thankfully the next dish did not explode on us, instead this Chicken Kiev oozed out a rich, dark, tangy, garlic-ey emulsion as you cut through it. It’s the kind of sauce you occasionally get that makes you wonder if they’d sell you a bottle of the stuff as it was deliciously more-ish! Fresh pea pesto helped lift the entire plate and keep things light and this was the first dish to bring silence to our table. A delightful little plate of food.

Curry time, and whilst I think there was a missed opportunity to serve this a la TV dinner, what we did get was perfectly cooked salmon, a deconstructed onion bhaji, with spots of lime gel/curd, all sprinkled with caramelised cauliflower florets. The salmon was the star, although perhaps the tikka masala aspect got a bit lost as the smear of sauce didn’t really have the kick I expected. A good dish but not a great one.

There have been quite a few duck dishes at Six by Nico but this one just won top prize! Perfectly prepared confit duck that melted in the mouth, was well accompanied by lightly herbed carrot ribbons, and a zesty but not overpowering orange puree. It’s a 70s classic sure, but this update proves why it was so popular, when you get the balance of flavours right it’s an absolute star of a dish!

And now, for those who know me and my penchant for trifle (at Christmas, I’m not a monster) came the dish that was likely to make or break the entire meal. Served in a tumbler – ohhh how very 70s – this was layer after layer of dessert heaven. From the sugar coated sesame seeds, to the sharp boozy cherry base, each layer provided flavour after flavour. Personally I would’ve liked more of the middle ‘creme’ layers to balance out the boozy cherries, but it’s a minor quibble. I never lost faith in trifle, but now I feel its future is assured!! Thank you Nico!

Overall one of the better menus for sure, and I do feel that Six by Nico is best when they are being bold, delivering big flavours without overwhelming. They more subtle dishes are always good but too many in one menu can start to dilute the overall experience, thankfully The 70s was a very well thought out menu.

What a lovely evening in the company of good friends, great food, wonderful friendly service and, I know I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, at £28 for six courses of wonderful food, plus £5 for an apertif and £5 for snacks (between two) Six by Nico continues to be ridiculously good value for such well prepared and considered food.

Ohhh and maybe they can keep the awesome 70s playlist too!

Six by Nico: Mexico

Glasgow has quite a few good Mexican eateries (Topolabamba being a personal favourite) so I was intrigued to see how this wouldn’t just be a more refined version of the usual taco, burrito, and salsa we all know and love.

Looking at the menu set my mind at ease a little, although my dislike of bell peppers (not chilli) already had me doubting the third course, ELOTE.

  1. CHICKEN THIGH TACO – Guacamole, Strawberry Salsa, Whipped Creme Fraiche
  2. NACHOS – Heritage Tomato, Housemade Queso Fresco, Avocado Gazpacho
  3. ELOTE – Sweetcorn Risotto, Green Chorizo, Pickled Red Peppers
  4. SEA BASS CHILPACHOLE MIXTO – Mussel Escabeche, Crab Mole, Sikil Pak, Orange
  5. PORK CHEEK BARBACOA – Refried Beans, Tomatillo, Rainbow Chard, Crackling
  6. CHOCOLATE TACO – Tonka Bean Ganache, Banana Ice Cream, Chipotle & Banana Caramel

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🇲🇽 Mexico via @sixbynico

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As I was driving I had a sip of the Apertif, a tequila and cointreau based pineapple margarita which certainly hit the mark, and then, as always, SNACKS!

There is a theme developing for the snacks, sourdough and flavoured butter (paprika for this menu) with some olives, then the ‘theme’ specific snack. The menu on the website suggests we were getting Masa Fries, with Jalapeno ketchup and Sweet Ancho Chilli Popcorn, what we got was nachos. Well, they LOOKED like Nachos and tasted like nachos, with rich and vibrant dabs of pureed avocado, that ketchup too. A nice way to kick start the palate.

I felt a bit odd eating the next course, it was a Wednesday evening you see which threw out my whole Taco Tuesdays thing… but they were tasty enough. I’m not sure I got much from the strawberry salsa, and the guacamole was a little on the thin side for my liking but overall a nice way to start the meal.

Of all the dishes the next one piqued my interest the least. Tomatoes are not high on my list of desirable eating and unfortunately this dish didn’t do much to change that. A fresh and cleansing dish for sure but it lacked any depth of flavour, or much in the way of balance. All of the flavours on the plate were gentle but didn’t seem to combine to be anything greater than their parts.

The third course was the one I was least looking forward to. I am not a fan of bell peppers and wasn’t convinced that pickling them would help. So being told on presentation that the dish also included smoked peppers and my heart sank. Ohhhh how wrong I was. Easily my favourite dish of the menu, the sweetcorn risotto was delicious, the pickled peppers (which I presume were picked by someone called Peter?) were a revelation only topped by the smoked peppers. Belter of a dish with some good hearty flavours that complimented each other without being overwhelming.

Sea Bass next, always a sign of a hearty dish as it takes flavours well and also a first try of escabeche for me. The mussels were tasty and the sea bass well cooked but the crab mole was a bit bland, thankfully the orange and pickled vegetables helped add some flavour.

The next dish was one I picked out as being likely to be a favourite, Pork cheek barbacoa. Alas whilst it was well cooked and well presented, it didn’t really hit the mark. It wasn’t bad per se just underwhelming on the whole and it was at about this point in the meal that I realised something that had been missing. Heat. Specifically, chillis. Not one dish had offered any subtle hint to what I take as being a quintessential part of Mexican cuisine, but perhaps that’s because I was basing my expectation on westernised Mexican cuisine? I’m not well informed enough to know but this dish seemed to highlight the absence of spice.

And then dessert. A friend of mine was dining that night, and we chatted as she left. She neatly captured the essence of this final dish for me “Nice but a bit too banana-ey”. She was right, the ganache was delicious, and some hunks of banana bread on highlighted just how ‘banana-ey’ the ice cream was but then, finally, we got a little heat from the chipotle and banana caramel.

As always, all of the food was well prepared and beautifully presented but on the whole this menu doesn’t rank high. It might be down to personal taste (isn’t it always?) but there just didn’t seem to be enough variation on each plate, too many pureed, reduced, and smoothed sauces, not to mention a distinct lack of big punchy flavours. Chilli or no, that’s what I expect from Mexican food and I think this menu suffers from those expectations. Does that mean the food was bad? No. It just wasn’t all that great.

That said, it was a pleasure to eat and I was delighted to have my expectation flipped on pickled peppers. And at £28 for six courses of wonderful food, plus £5 for an apertif and £5 for snacks (between two) Six by Nico continues to be ridiculously good value.

Hat tip to the staff as well, always friendly, and were very quick to remedy a delay between a couple of courses (we hadn’t even noticed) with the offer of a free drink.

And yes, we are already booked in for the next menu.

Derren Brown

I’m writing this a few days after the event, just in case there were any lingering effects. I fear my mind may never quite recover…


I’ve seen most, if not all, of Derren Brown’s TV shows. From the one off specials to the early series that were broadcast in a late evening slot on Ch4. He is not without controversy and I’ll happily admit to, still, remaining sceptical about how he does what he does; is it magic, is it manipulation, are there stooges involved, is it all fake?

Or perhaps it’s a little bit of everything? He is first and foremost as he readily admits, a showman, he is trying to entertain using methods and tricks that can be learned. A lot of the show is based on suggestion, on convincing an audience, or a few members of it, to go along with something even though they aren’t really sure why.

It helps that he is engaging, smart and quick-witted – helpful when something goes wrong, which it did… or may have?… the night we saw him (I have yet to discuss this with friends who were there the following evening!) – and the careful layering of ideas, coupled with alleged explanations of what he is doing, even down to the vaudeville style stage tricks (with a gorilla) all make his show a very entertaining evening.

Mind you I’m not convinced that any of the explanations offered were completely true, nor am I convinced about that ‘mistake’. A fumbled word here, a mis-step there, is it all part of the show, all designed to keep us a little unsure and off-balance?

Ultimately, whilst I have some understanding of how he does what he does (I guessed two things correctly) it’s still a very impressive mix of techniques and skills that delivers some mind-bending results. One word continually sprang to mind as I sat there in disbelief; HOW?

If you’ve watched any of his TV shows you’ll have seen some of the acts he performed before – this is a greatest hits kinda tour – and whilst each segment of the show stands on its own, the very final reveal confirms it’s been carefully planned all along and that you have been manipulated from the minute you walked in and sat down.

Ohhh and what a final reveal, it’s a double whammy that builds on one ‘impossible’ finale to before delivery a second that beggars belief, and I definitely wasn’t the only one, you could feel the slow build of realisation ripples through the audience… is that… did he… but he said… accompanied by gasps, faces held in hands, mouths agape… (OK, that was mostly just me).

What a wonderful evening of mind boggling entertainment. Part of the fun in seeing him perform live was seeing if I could spot anything, anything you couldn’t catch on TV. I think for the hour and a half I caught maybe two or three little moments, but even now I’m not sure if they mean, or meant, anything at all.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to lie down in a dark room for a few days.

Six by Nico: Wonka

This past Easter found me watching a movie I’ve loved since I was a child. It is a strange story of a strange man by the name of Willy Wonka. I have to wonder if Nico was watching too…

As ever I’d been perusing the menu ahead of our visit and wondered how some of the dishes would be prepared and presented – I’m not a fan of liquorice, popcorn, or olives – but as their website says, “remember – a little nonsense now and then is relished by even the wisest of men….” so regardless of my own personal tastes, I was still excited to try this latest menu.

  1. CHEESE BOARD – Gorgonzola Royale / Fizzy Grapes / Celery & Apple Gazpacho
  2. BEETROOT DIB DAB – Heritage Beetroot / Smoked Mackerel Gribiche / Beetroot Sherbet
  3. DUCK SWEETIE JAR – Liver Parfait / Blueberry Chutney / Hazelnut Sable
  4. COD BLACKJACK – Charred Cauliflower / Squid ‘Risotto’ / Liquorice
  5. CHOCOLATE RIVER – Chicken / Chorizo Popcorn / Candied Olive / Mole Poblano Sauce
  6. WONKA BAR – Peanut butter Cheesecake / Amarena Cherry / Chocolate Soil

The apertif, “Fizzy lifting juice”, set the tone. A delicious gin cocktail with popping candy round the rim, which laid out the sweet theme that ran through the entire meal.

But first, as always, SNACKS!

Arancini are a wonder, so unassuming but so deliciously more-ish it’s probably just as well they are small and there is only one on the plate. My white chocolate & white truffle arancini was delicious but all too quickly gone. We also had the sourdough, olives and vanilla butter. Yup, vanilla butter. Subtle and worked surprisingly well.

Next up the Cheese Board, obviously. Dabs of creamy piped gorgonzola, slices of tangy grape served on a crisp taro cracker, accompanied by a delicious thick celery and apple gazpacho. Wonderfully cheesy crackers with a nice sweet tang, and the gazpacho was essentially a celery based bloody mary in texture.

I’ll admit I had to look up what gribiche was and having done so I was still not quite sure what I would be getting. Fear not though, the lollipop that arrived on my plate was exactly that, a shaped portion of chunky mackerel gribiche lying on a bed pureed lentil dahl with a sprinkling of beetroot sherbet. Not a huge mackerel fan but I may now be converted as it was very tasty indeed and worked so so well with the thick unctuous dahl (a bowl of that in the winter months, ohhh my days!). The accompanying assortment of beetroot helped keep the dish light and the freshness played well against the heavy flavours of the smoked mackerel. So far so good!

The Duck Sweetie Jar is exactly that, a sweetie jar rammed full of flavour. A rich, thick dollop of duck parfait, with a sweet blueberry chutney and a few hidden delights in the shape of tiny bright blueberry meringues. Some thin slices of moist and succulent duck with a few pickled blueberries topped off the jar. Alongside that a small toasted circle of brioche, with a duck croquet. I’m not sure which I enjoyed more, but each component was delicious and all worked so well together. Duck and blueberry, more of this please (but not so much we end up like Violet and need juiced).

And then it was time for the one dish that made me baulk when I read the menu. I am not a fan of liquorice in any way shape or form and only hoped that it would be a component I could leave aside on the plate. We actually queried ‘how liquoricey’ the dish was, and were assured it wasn’t ‘that liquoricey at all’. And it wasn’t.

What it was was a very subtle hint that definitely didn’t overwhelm the perfectly cooked cod fillet which came with charred cauliflower rice on top. The risotto was wonderfully creamy and, as they did for Vietnamese menu, the squid rings were utterly perfectly cooked (Six by Nico street food idea, a bowl of those!). As well as the squid ink coloured sauce, there was a hint of sweetness brought by adding raisin puree as well and, on the whole, it was a well balanced dish, and definitely not too liquoricey at all. Squid rings aside, it was good but not great.

The next dish did not feature a boat nor Augustus Gloop being sucked up a tube, but did feature some of my less than favourite ingredients, popcorn and olive, but there were plenty of other components to deal with and the whole point of a tasting menu is try new things, right? Served on a bed of pearl barley and sweetcorn the chicken was moist and tender and whilst each component was well presented as a dish it just didn’t work all that well. I’m not sure if it was the mole poblano, or the candied olives, or even the popcorn, but it tasted a little like there were too many bitter flavours competing with one another. A rare miss for sure, but a miss none the less.

Dessert saved the day (doesn’t it always?). A deconstructed cheesecake, with light and not cloyingly dry piped peanut butter, rich tart and sweet cherry reduction, with dollops of white chocolate cream it was a perfect balance, although more like posh PB&J than a cheesecake but I am NOT complaining about that either.

As an extra treat you also get a Wonka Bar! I won’t spoil the surprise but as well as what lies inside there is also the chance to win a Golden Ticket… alas we didn’t win on our visit.

Overall another strong showing. The chicken dish wasn’t for me, and the cod was merely ok but as always the overall experience was good. Six by Nico set itself a high bar and consistently meets it. As always the staff were knowledgeable, relaxed, friendly, and make the entire experience a pleasure and one I always look forward to.

£28 for six courses of wonderful food, plus £5 for an apertif and £5 for snacks (between two) continues to be ridiculously good value. Even adding £25 for the paired tasting menu (which I don’t do often) keeps the entire meal well below £65 a head for fine dining, I honestly don’t think there is better value available anywhere in Glasgow. Once again it’s booking out fast so if you fancy it, get it booked!

Six by Nico: Vietnamese Street Food

It doesn’t seem that long since we last ventured to Six by Nico, largely because it isn’t. Due to the vagaries of multiple calendars, we ended up booking to go on day 2 of the newest menu which was taking us to Vietnam.

I’m a huge fan of eastern flavours, and have to admit I was pretty excited to try the Six by Nico take on some of my favourite Vietnamese street food style dishes, I mean check out this menu!

  1. SPRING ROLL – Rice Paper / Crayfish & Crab / Vietnamese Herbs
  2. PHO – Chicken ‘Noodles’ / Tiger prawn / Aromatic Broth
  3. CHÁO VIT – Rice Porridge / Duck / Peanut / Mooli
  4. SEA BREAM – Rice noodles / Mango / Squid
  5. CLAYPOT PORK BELLY – Pak Choi / Water Chestnut / Coconut Rice / Pineapple
  6. VIETNAMESE COFFEE – Condensed Milk / Coffee Cake / Pandang / Palm Sugar

But first, as always, SNACKS!

For this street food inspired menu, the snack definitely set the tone for the meal. A wonderful take on BAHN MI, a rich, deeply flavoured beef, served on toasted baguette, with some pickled chilli. Delicious if a little ‘bread’ heavy. Mind you, we had ordered some mango mimosa apertifs so they helped wash things down.

The snack was shortly followed by the first course, well when I say shortly followed, the spring rolls turned up whilst I was still taking a photograph of the Bahn Mi… a very subtle and well balanced dish, packed full of crayfish and crab, vibrant herbs and a few dollops of a mild lime jus, they were an excellent start to the main courses. Light, very tasty, but possibly could’ve taken a green chilli heat to give it a different dimension but that’s me being very picky.

I’ve had Pho at a few places, both in the UK and in Singapore and I think this take on it nails all the key parts perfectly. Starting with the rich broth which brought a heavy hit of chicken umami-ness (if that’s a word) which added to the depth of flavour for thin ‘noodle’ strips of chicken. A perfectly cooked tiger prawn sat atop the dish, with another hidden underneath alongside some earthy mushrooms to add both texture and further flavour. It may be small bit this Pho was mighty!

I’ve never had rice porridge before and I’m pretty sure what we had wasn’t how it would normally be presented; a slice of what was essentially a savoury rice pudding which was seared on one side. On top of that was satay duck, and somewhere in the mix a gentle heat which, I’m presuming, came from the mooli. The shredded duck was succulent, with a good heat, and was utterly delicious, I’m not sure about the presentation and it’ll be interesting to see how that aspect of the dish changes over the coming weeks (we were there on day 2 of this new menu).

More fishy goodness with the next course. A perfectly pan cooked fillet of sea bream on top of smoked vermicelli rice noodles, with a couple of squid rings as well. Each element was perfectly executed, I could’ve eaten a large plate of the squid alone as it was perfectly cooked, and the lightly spiced and smoked noodles helped bring a freshness to the entire plate.

Looking at the menu, the penultimate plate was the one that had me a little trouble. I’ve had good and bad pork belly in the past and, as I am not a fan of eating fat, I had my concerns. To say there were unfounded is to sell short and absolute belter of a dish that packed some huge flavours, and the pork belly, ohhhhh that pork belly, was an utterly, salivatingly, salty and succulent delight. Coconut rice, charred pineapple, and a lightly chilli’d pineapple jus brought the entire plate together in an explosion of taste and, well I could’ve six courses of just that!

And then dessert arrived. I am on the record as NOT A FAN of cold coffee flavours. They just don’t sit on my palate all that well, so you can keep your tirimasu thanks. Not so this decadent offering, with a condensed milk panacotta (oh my heavens!) topped with a slice of light coffee cake and slivers of palm sugar, and presented with a subtle coffee aroma’d espuma. I don’t mind telling you I was virtually licking the bowl clean.

Looking back, it’s hard to find fault with any of the dishes offered. Each one was clean and light on the palate, even when packing a punch. It was a real embodiment of Vietnamese cooking served up with no short measure of panache, skill and flair.

In the grand ranking of Six by Nico menus whilst this doesn’t quite push The Chippie off my top spot (a menu which packed heartier flavours in and was without real flaw), it’s certainly up there in a close second place.

Price wise, in a shock move, they’ve put the price up a massive £3! Yup, six courses of delicious food will set you back £28, plus £5 for the starter and £5 for an apertif. Wine matching remains £25, an option I thought it best to avoid when starting dinner at 9pm on a school night.

Regardless, £28 for food this good is still a ridiculous bargain. There is a very good reason we’ve not missed a menu yet, and if you haven’t managed along I cannot recommend this eating experience enough.

A small sidenote: one of my friends is a very fussy eater. He too has not missed a menu and has tried all manner of things that he has avoided before. The beauty of Six by Nico is precisely that you aren’t really entirely sure how the ingredients listed against every item in the menu will be cooked and presented and, so far, it’s been a wonderous delight every time.

Six by Nico: New York, New York

It’s been far too long since my last visit to Six by Nico but – boy oh boy Riff – it’s sure been worth the wait!

The last menu – a best of complilation – was a nice way to kick start 2018 but as soon as I saw the first listing for the new menu I knew I had to start spreading the news… (ok, I’ll stop with the New York based puns… maybe).

And what a menu, go on, pick a bad one from this wonderful line up!

  1. BAGEL – Smoked Salmon Royale / Dill Pickle / Cream Cheese
  2. BUFFALO CHICKEN – Confit Chicken / Gorgonzola Mousse / Pickled Celery
  3. EGGS BENEDICT – Slow Cooked Egg / Miso & Brown Butter Hollandaise / Smoked Ham Hough
  4. CODFATHER – Shetland Cod / Fregola Pasta / Trapanese Pesto
  5. REUBEN SANDWICH – 24 Hours Brisket / Smoked Barley Risotto / Russian Dressing
  6. BIG APPLE – New York Cheesecake / Granola / Lemon Curd

But first, as always, SNACKS!

Actually, that’s not true. Hat tip to my apertif of choice, a tall slim cockatil of lychee liqueur, Caorunn gin (one of my favs), and cloudy apple juice. Wake up tastebuds, it’s eating time!

I should at this point mention that a colleague had already been to try this menu and, on his recommendation, we plumped for a snack plate each. Normally these are made for sharing but he assured me this was the best route.

Reader, he was not wrong.

The snack was a Pulled Pork Slider, with Smoked Mozzarella on a toasted brioche bun and a thick smoky barbecue sauce. It’s small, but even then I found myself eeking out every bite, desperate to make it last longer. I decree that, from henceforth, all mozzarella served before me shall be smoked!

The first course was a little fluffy bagel, with a delicious salmon cream cheese, and just enough dill pickle gel to cut through the richness. It was the smallest plate offered but delivered a ton of flavour. Think dawn spring sunshine in Central Park, a hot cup of joe and (a couple of) these wonderful little bagels. Yes please.

As the day moves on and the sunshine develops, it’s time to spread that Picnic blanket and grab some tasty fried chicken. And, Nico style, this turns out to be succulent confit chicken thighs, with a warming spiced crust on a smear of mousse with yet another new delight, pickled celery. Those tiny spots of sweet sharpness kept the dish from being too claggy, and the gentle building heat was perfectly judged, hot but not overwhelming.

Of course, if you’ve been wandering and doing the tourist thing, a tasty brunch always helps keep the energy up and if every brunch I had was as delicious and more-ish as this one (although to be fair, most brunches are bloody awesome) I’d never leave.

A slow cooked egg, scotch style, with a puff pastry encased disk of rich, deeply smoked, ham hough, with a few dabs of hollandaise to cut through the rich fattiness. If anything this dish could’ve done with a little more of the hollandaise but it’s a minor gripe because I could quite happily have eaten this several times over. The ham hough in particular was an utter delight for the tastebuds.

Of course, New York has a darker side, so tread carefully or you might get the attention of the Codfather… which wouldn’t be a bad thing to be honest. A perfectly cooked serving of fresh cod, fregola pasta in a herby rich broth, with sundried tomatoes and a dollop of trapanese pesto. Of all the dishes, and for one ingredient only, this was the lowest point of the menu for me; what can I say, me and olives don’t agree. That said, I still ate it and if I had the chance, would order it again. Sans olive, obviously.

There are two meat sandwiches that always make me think of New York. One is a pastrami on rye, hold the mustard, the other is an item that regardless of where I am, if it appears on the menu I’m likely to order it. I mean who doesn’t like a good Reuben?

My only fear with this dish is that, quite possibly, it has ruined all other Reubens for me, even though the Six by Nico adaptation isn’t even a sandwich! No, instead you get some of the juiciest, beefiest, most tastiest (it’s a word, shut up!) brisket that I have ever had the pleasure of slow savouring. A little square of fried barley risotto, and of course a nice tangy russian dressing, and some charred lettuce leaves completed the dish. I may need to look up a few new words for the brisket though, utterly utterly supreme.

As ever, suddenly, dessert appeared.

I should state that my cheesecake preference is ALWAYS baked and preferably without any gunk on top. Baked vanilla cheesecake is a thing of delight. I may have to change my preference now.

Served as a shiny red apple, with a (green) lemon curd core, from the first mouthful to the last plate scraping scoop it was perfect. The light cheesecake, the subtle curd balancing the sweetness well, and hell even the granola was tasty! What a wonderful, beautiful end to what was easily the second best menu they’ve ever presented (and for the cost of an olive or two, could’ve taken top spot for me).

Comparing to previous menus is, of course, nonsense but as I’ve still not missed one (yet) and it’s good to look back and marvel at some of the stellar food on offer here. £25 for the basic menu, a few quid more for the snack and apertif, throw in a bottle of wine and for about £45 a head you can eat like a very very lucky member of the royal family. What’s not to like?

I met a spaceman

Ground control to Major Tom…
Ground control to Major Tom:
Lock your Soyuz hatch and put your helmet on!

I can still remember the first time I heard Space Oddity. I can recall just how otherworldly it sounded to me and while that was largely down to Mr. Bowie (an entirely other being for sure) it sits squarely alongside a similarly titled book that I’d just finished reading which was, in turn, the very reason I had listened to that track in the first place.

I was maybe 12 years old at the time and the idea of space was more Star Wars than 2001 but I was slowly learning about the Apollo program and pages of my encyclopedia were starting to fall open at anything space related. I wouldn’t say it was a phase, it wasn’t like I wanted to be an astronaut or anything but, especially for people who grew up in the 60, 70s and 80s, space was a big deal.

The Space Shuttle was still active, and no matter how many times you see the footage it’s still mind-boggling to imagine, regardless how you try and frame it; as an engineering feat it’s one of the greatest achievements of mankind, the scale of it beyond anything done before; as a spectacle it’s equally mind-boggling, watching something that large move so so quickly.

And these days with the rise of social media, streaming content from the ISS being, it’s even more prevalent and even easier to keep up with. The fascination remains.

Fast forward to last Friday and I, along with a thousand or so others, found ourselves face to face with a spaceman. He goes by the name, and title, of Colonel Chris Hadfield, and there he was, an actual real life astronaut.

I’ve seen him interviewed and watched his YouTube videos that he recorded in space but wasn’t really sure what to expect. On stage were two chairs, two glasses of water, so I presumed it would be interview style. I was wrong, wonderfully wrong. Instead he spent about 1hr 45mins talking about, well, everything.

From his earliest days watching Neil Armstrong land on the moon, through all the decisions he made, all the things he decided to learn, he reaffirmed one notion; he wasn’t born an astronaut. He learned new things he thought would be useful, he looked at where he wanted to go and made decisions based on that desire, the desire to one day make it into space.

He also talked about the impact seeing the world from space and how clear it is that this is one world, that borders are invisible up there. He talked about the amazing and inspiring people he has worked with, all different genders, races, and religions. He talked about what happens when things go wrong in space (answer, you don’t panic because you’ve practised for when things go wrong).

He also made us laugh. Describing an incident he had during a spacewalk, when he was rendered temporarily blind, we all laughed aloud when he told us he was venting the air from his helmet out into space. I know, it doesn’t sound funny, maybe it’s the way he told it…

What struck me most, especially considering the number of young adults and children in the room, was his constant reaffirmation of ‘you can do whatever you want’. His positivity and belief that humankind is better together shone through. Even though they faced great danger, he said, it was important to remember that danger does not equal fear, you only fear the thing you do not know or have not prepared for, and that fear is easily overcome by learning and practising.

Yet it was all hyperbole. At one point he informed us that the odds of ‘something bad going wrong’ on his first flight aboard the Space Shuttle was 1 in 38. A quick check and it turned out that there were about 38 seats in each row of the seating. Would we have turned up that evening knowing that one person in each row would die?

Yet despite all the grandeur of space, and all of his amazing achievements, Colonel Chris Hadfield remained wonderfully self-effacing, full of empathy for his fellow humans, witty, and boy does he have a splendid moustache. His talk was uplifting, motivational, moving, revealing, and entertaining. He held our attention easily for the entire time, peppering his talk with photos and video clips and, of course, he closed by talking about that song, a version of which he recorded in space.

At the very end, he picked up a guitar and to a backdrop of a video showing shots of the world whizzing by underneath the ISS, he strummed and sang.

I can still remember the first time I heard Space Oddity and 30 years later for just the briefest of moments, on a dreich Friday evening in Glasgow, I was there. I was Major Tom.

Six by Nico: Best of 2017

The eighth incarnation of Six by Nico and as we move into a new calendar year, they’ve decided to go back to some of the best dishes from 2017, but there was a twist!

The menu was announced on the 5th January, and in the days prior to the announcement it was up to the public to choose what dishes would make the cut. For each of the six courses we were given a choice.

  1. Chips & Cheese (The Chippie) vs Ratatouille (Disney)
  2. Pancake (Route 66) vs Steak Pie (The Chippie)
  3. Mac & Cheese (Childhood) vs Wild Mushroom (Forest)
  4. Sea Bream Taco (Route 66) vs Fish & Chips (The Chippie)
  5. Duck (Illusion) vs Burger (Childhood)
  6. Egg (Illusion) vs Lemon Tart (Route 66)

Talk about Hobson’s Choice! Some of my favourite dishes weren’t even an option, no Picnic Blanket (Picnic), no Lady & the Tramp (Disney), no Sandwich Platter (Picnic)! That said, as they evolve each dish throughout the six week run of the menu, regardless of what the final menu looked like, I knew it would be a little bit different to when we first ate them.

And so, with all the voting in, the menu for our eighth visit (from the website) looks like this:

  1. THE CHIPPIE – CHIPS and CHEESE – Parmesan Espuma / Confit Potato / Curry Oil
  2. THE CHIPPIE – STEAK PIE – Speyside Beef Shin / Onion Sauerkraut / Brioche
  3. CHILDHOOD – MAC and CHEESE – Glazed Chicken Wing / Charred Cauliflower / Truffle
  4. ROUTE 66 – SEA BREAM TACO – Guacamole / Pickled Chilli / Preserved Lime and Red Onion Salsa
  5. ILLUSION – DUCK – Blueberries / Hazelnut / Wild Mushroom / Cocoa
  6. ILLUSION – WHITE CHOCOLATE – Passionfruit / Lime Curd / Coconut

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Six by Nico: Best of 2017 #sixbynico

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But first, as always, Snacks!

Definitely some favourites here (even though the snacks weren’t part of the voting), so we had Smoked Haddock Bon Bon, Truffle and Parmesan popcorn, and Peanut Butter Milkshake. The Bon Bons were rich and packed with full of flavour, the Truffle popcorn was lost on me (popcorn is weird), but hey who doesn’t like a light creamy Peanut Butter milkshake. Some great snacks but we were eager for the first course.

I was so pleased The Chippie faired well in the public voting as it was my favourite of all the menus and I had forgotten how wonderfully light the Chips and Cheese starter course was. A little cup of the rich and light espuma, with a nice mix of confit potato pieces, some soft, some ‘edges’ and the curry oil adds a very subtle aspect to the dish without overpowering it. I love to think I’d be able to eat a much bigger serving of this but it’s so rich, I think the portion size is about right.

My rants on what constitutes a proper pie are well enough know by my friends (who I was eating with) yet we didn’t really care when this delicious deconstructed plate of tasty offerings was put in front of us. The beef shin is the star, melting in the mouth, falling apart under the gentlest of prods with the fork, I definitely COULD eat a larger portion of this. The onion sauerkraut and brioche help bring it together and it was universally praised and quickly scoffed.

The Mac and Cheese dish I remember as being good but nothing to shout about. It hasn’t really changed in content or presentation but was an absolute delight. A ‘slice’ of thick and very cheesy macaroni, with succulent chicken wing in a light barbeque sauce, all helped by the nutty charred cauliflower, definitely seemed better than the first time round!

Next up, the Sea Bream Taco – and putting aside the fact that I didn’t vote for this – which was pretty tasty although the lime salsa doesn’t sit well on my plate. The fish is clearly the star here, perfectly cooked with a nice crisp skin, sitting on top of a slightly too oily taco, all of which sits on top of a delicious guacamole. A nice idea but one of those dishes you have to move around to eat (you try cutting a taco sitting on a pile of guacamole!). As always, all well presented, and tasty enough just some aspects aren’t for me.

The final savoury dish was one of my least favourites when I first tried it, but having seen it plated up at other tables, I thought I’d stick with it (I had contemplated swapping this course out for the vegetarian option which was the same dish but with beetroot instead of duck). Alas it fell short. The duck was better than the last time, but there just isn’t enough variety of flavour for me which was surprising given it was on the Illusion menu which managed to mess with visuals and flavours pretty well. One sad little pickled mushroom was all I had to give the dish some pop. A shame (especially when the other vote option was, notably, a lot better).

Thankfully along came dessert to rescue the day! Whilst I had voted for the Lemon Tart, I was just as happy to see the Egg dish arrive. Presented as half of a frozen coconut panacotta egg, with passionfruit yolk, it was packed full of vibrant flavours, and as it melted that panacotta adds to the sumptuous of the entire plate. Wonderful stuff.

We had managed to get a table right at the start of this ‘new’ menu, and as ever I know they will tweak the dishes as they work through the 6 week run, what’ll be really interesting this time is to see where they finally end up, having had 12 weeks to fuss and cajole these wonderful plates of food into something better and better with each presentation.

Overall, as always, a good evening of tasty food. Going in, part of me thought the idea of a ‘Best of’ would diminish each dish a little as I’ve tried them all before, but instead I found myself twice as delighted to be able to revisit some of my very favourite plates of food from last year again.

Have I mentioned that the set menu is £25 for six courses (and you can swap courses between the main and vegetarian options). Add in £5 for the ‘Snacks’, and £5 for an apertif, chuck a bottle of wine in and for £45-50 a head you are being treated to high end cuisine in a laid back environment. The food quality remains high, as does the execution of each plate. It really is a fine dining experience on a budget.

Six by Nico: Disney

What a year it’s been at Six by Nico, and what a way to finish out 2017. So popular was their announcement of their ‘Disney’ menu that their website and booking system crashed, and they’ve had to open up on a Monday to cope with demand. I was glad we book well in advance (roll on January 11th for the next visit).

But all the noise on social media begs the question, was it any good?

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Six by Nico: Disney

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The menu for our seventh visit (from the website):

  1. RATATOUILLE – Ratatouille / Comte Espuma / Dijon Crumble
  2. MAD HATTER TEA PARTY – Chicken & Tarragon ‘Sandwich’ / Mushroom Tea / Truffle Empire Biscuit
  3. SWORD & THE STONE – Stone Bass & Swordfish Ceviche / Miso Vinegerette / Avocado / Tapioca
  4. LADY & THE TRAMP – Angel Hair Pasta / Shellfish Bisque / Seaweed Crumb
  5. ALADDIN – Lamb Belly / Prune / Pearl Cous Cous / Jasmine Tea
  6. BEAUTY & THE BEAST – Rose Panna Cotta / Lychee / Almond Sponge / Pomegranate

But first, as always, Snacks!

RABBITS VEGETABLE GARDEN – Crudites, Beetroot Hummus, Lime Creme Fraiche, Olives

Beetroot hummus with little heads of romanesco broccoli, shards of beetroot crisp, and a tart creme fraiche. What’s not to like? Wonderfully earthy and fresh, although I avoided the olives, and a nice palate cleanser before the first course. Admittedly the Queen of Hearts apertif also helped; Edinburgh Raspberry Gin & Tonic, with love heart sweets. Pretty sure I have a little bottle of that at home…

Thankfully there were no rats evident in the kitchen prior to the first course of Ratatouille. Neatly presented (although part of me wishes they’d done it ‘a la movie’) the vegetables were tasty enough, the tomato base was a little thin and the star was the thick, rich Comte Espuma; one of my favourite cheeses which definitely elevated this dish but overall it didn’t really hit the mark for me.

Next up, our decidedly non-Mad Hatter server, placed a silver platter in the middle of the table; tea cups ready, a clear tea pot with a dark rich looking tea, a sandwich triangle, empire biscuit and cupcake for each of us. Ohhh and some green ‘ketchup’ to go with the sandwich. First up the mushroom tea, ohhh my heavens, rich, deep, with a real umami hit I could’ve had the entire pot to myself! But no, pace yourself because you have a chicken sandwich to eat before you get to your sweets. And oh what a delicious sandwich, entirely made from chicken (no bread here) with a squirt of tarragon ‘ketchup’ it was a delicious, moist, chicken toastie at its best. Washing it down with the last mouthfuls of mushroom tea was a delight. The empire biscuit was good, two thick parmesan rounds, a hint of truffle inside, and a quince dot to add a nice little sweet tartness. The beetroot and goats cheese cupcake was ok but perhaps not really needed, given the quality of the other components on the tray.

Ceviche next and whilst I couldn’t tell which was Stone Bass and which was Swordfish both tasted wonderfully fresh. The accompanying parts of the dish were good, although the tapioca didn’t really bring much to the party, but the avocado and crunchy little morsels of vinegarette (I think!) cut through everything both in taste and texture. Smartly done.

Ahhh Lady & the Tramp and the iconic spaghetti scene. Thankfully you don’t have to recreate it to enjoy what was, for me, the star of the evening. From seeing earlier photos this dish has been tweaked a little, so we received a dish of angel hair pasta, with a perfectly cooked fillet (halibut I think?) atop. Add in a reduced shellfish bisque which was so thick it was clinging to the pasta and OH MY HEAVENS it was delicious.

Aladdin – one of my fav Disney movies – was up next and, Jasmine Tea aside I’m not sure I’m getting the lamb connection. An Arabian dish then, Baba Ganoush with a roll of lamb belly stuffed with cous cous and a couple of golden raisins. Of the entire menu this was, almost, disappointing. As expected everything on the plate was cooked well but it was all a bit one-dimensional for me. The most excitement came from a dash of sweetness from the few raisins hidden away inside the lamb, and whilst the lamb itself was succulent, it just didn’t get any help from the rest of the plate. It’s not often the Six by Nico doesn’t hit the mark but this dish definitely needed some help from a genie!

Dessert, a dish as old as time? Perhaps, but if you’ve ever craved a light, subtle dessert then this is the one for you. Wonderfully rose flavoured panna cotta with a gentle lychee gel on top, pomegranate sauce, and a lighter than air slice of almond sponge and there I was, twirling in my transformation from Beast to Prince as the last petal fell from the rose. What a great way to round off a meal.

Overall, not one of the best menus with a couple of dishes missing the mark for me but as always part of that is down to personal taste – I wouldn’t normally order ratatouille or lamb belly – but Six by Nico remains a highlight. The service is friendly and relaxed, the staff know what they are talking about if you have any questions, and even the ‘not so good’ dishes are still well cooked and presented.

Have I mentioned that the set menu is £25 for six courses (and you can swap courses between the main and vegetarian options). Add in £5 for the ‘Snacks’, and £5 for an apertif, chuck a bottle of wine in and for £45-50 a head you are being treated to high end cuisine in a laid back environment. The food quality remains high, as does the execution of each plate. It really is a fine dining experience on a budget.

Note: In a lovely gesture, Six By Nico will be donating £5 from every Disney meal to Glasgow Children’s Hospital. Bravo!

Review: Loop and Scoop

I love ice cream, I mean I REALLY LOVE ICE CREAM – it’s something I inherited from my Dad – but would another quality ice cream vendor really find a place alongside the Nardini’s of the world? Short answer is yes! The longer answer is a bit hot and cold…

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To open a gelato and churros based venture in October, in Glasgow, does sound a bit bonkers, I mean even during the best of our summers we don’t get more than a few weeks of ‘ice cream sunshine’. But as October rolled around, so it was that Loop and Scoop burst into vibrant life. Sitting on Great Western Road, just up from Oran Mor, I passed Loop and Scoop on the bus everyday through the summer months, and I was a bit perplexed as I watched the bright orange hoardings that promised a ‘Summer Opening’ fade as the season changed and the temperature dropped. Had they missed the opporchancity?

Well it sure doesn’t seem like it as, since it opened, I’ve rarely seen it without a queue, either ‘out the door’ at peak times, or a handful of people hanging around late at night as they indulge their sweet tooth. Initial reactions on social media were good, so I knew I had to check it out for I too have a sweet tooth that needed to be indulged… and did I mention that I LOVE ICE CREAM?

And what a wonderful indulgence it is.

There is something special about freshly made churros coupled with some wonderful gelato, that really is comforting in a warming winter kinda way. It shouldn’t really work, the bulk of what you are eating is ice cream after all, but as the churros is made to order (which adds to the queues but remember, delicious things come to those who wait) it retains just enough heat to be cosily comforting.

I opted for the chocolate and hazelnut covered churros ‘loop’ and scoops of toffee apple gelato. The churros is lighter than any I’ve had, and chocolate melts slightly to create a sticky tasty mess, this dish is not one for those who don’t like getting their hands dirty! The gelato was good too, creamy enough without being sickly, and the small toffee and apple chunks added a nice additional texture. Delish!!! Mind you, next time I’ll probably stick with vanilla, what can I say, I like the classics.

They offer other items on their menu, which includes some brunch options, or you could just have churros and a dipping sauce on their own, or just a scoop or two of gelato but let’s be honest, having seen photos of their Loop and Scoop dish, it was impossible to resist their signature offering.

There is a definite rise in dessert focussed eateries in Glasgow, and whilst Loop and Scoop does have more traditional cafe food options, it’s fair to say that most people will be there for churros and gelato, so it’s just as well that they are so so good!

Loop and Scoop has been open for a few weeks now, it’s always been busy whenever I’ve passed it and, whilst part of me wonders how it will get on in the depths of winter, another part of me knows I am already planning to go back as soon as possible.

About Loop and Scoop
Background article.

You can find Loop and Scoop at 665 Great Western Road, and on Instagram @Loopandscoop & Facebook @LoopandScoop.