TL;DR – my tweet from last night:
Despite the fact the ‘parent’ restaurant (111 by Nico) was a 2 minute walk from my last flat, I only ate there once but it was a fantastic meal. So when I heard about this new venture, and started reading the reviews, I was desperate to try it out.
The premise is simple enough, as explained on their website:
A NEW RESTAURANT EVERY SIX WEEKS
Six by Nico will be home to a series of carefully curated and constantly evolving restaurant concepts.
Each six weeks, Nico and his team will serve a brand new six-course tasting-menu – each one themed upon a different place or memory.
We were there on Tuesday night, catching the tail end of the first six weeks of the restaurant – “The Chippie: A nostalgic nod to the traditional Fish and chip shop, this restaurant will showcase the ‘Best of British’ flavours for which the UK is famed for worldwide.” – and yes, it includes their take on a deep fried mars bar.
Entering the restaurant (at 9:15pm on a Tuesday night, one of the few mid-week seatings that was still available when I booked) you are warmly greeted and welcomed to a very stylish place. The first thing you’ll notice is the kitchen, open to the restaurant. The decor is dark but not gloomy, refined without feeling like it’s trying too hard. We were sat in the table by the door, right next to the kitchen area. Only downside was the draught from the front door but that’s mostly down to people not knowing how to shut a door properly (although could be ‘fixed’ by installing a taller glass panel at the back of the booth perhaps?). Even the menu and wine list shared the same high quality, muted appeal.
Safe to say the attention to detail was great, all the way down to the old school salt and vinegar condiments on the table, just like you get in a Chippie. Clever touch.
The staff were great. Friendly, relaxed, and clearly well drilled. They knew what they were talking about, explained each of the six dishes as they were presented to us and, always a good sign, they had definitely all tried the food. So, when you are trying to figure out what that extra component in a dish was, they can help tell you it was probably the tuna in the broth…
Anyway, on to the food. As it’s a set taster menu, you don’t really have to do much other than choose your drinks. We didn’t go for the wine pairing (this time), but felt it rude not to also get the Snacks & Bread prior to the first course. And boy did it set the tone for what lay ahead.
I had checked out the full menu beforehand and at first glance I was a little bemused…
- Chips & Cheese
- Steak Pie
- Special Fish
- Smoked Sausage
- Deep Fried Mars Bar
But of course there is a lot more to it than that, what we actually got were six dishes that were excellent prepared, beautifully presented and would grace the finest tables in the land! Specifically (and to be fair, I’m playing fast and loose with the menu here, it’s clearly articulated on their website):
- Crisp potato cannelloni with crowdie mousse
- Scrabster monkfish cheek, squid ink and herb emulsion
- Speyside beef shin, onion choucroute and brioche
- Shetland cod with sea vegetable, pickled mussels and taramasalata
- Ayrshire pork with black pudding, apple and celeriac
- Salted caramel, chocolate nougat, malt parfait
Without fail, every dish elicited high praise from our table, usually through a quiet contemplative silence as we all just sat and savoured the fresh flavours and wonderful combinations, knowing nods as each mouthful revealed another contrast of flavour or texture, and cleared plates at every pass.
I’m stopping short of trying to describe each dish, largely because I don’t have the vocabulary but each one displayed the same core thinking. Take ‘know flavours’ and distil them down to their core, then present them in clever ways in dishes that were without fault.
A small example, accompanying the cod dish there were small morsels of crumb which tasted exactly like salt and vinegar batter. As each of us discovered these on the plate we all had the same look of delight on our faces as we were transported back to the chippies of our childhood.
The real kicker to all of this? The one thing I still can’t quite get my head around given the quality of what is on offer? All of this, the staff, the service, the fantastic food… £25 for the taster menu (all in with starters and wine, we were £40 a head), £25! Amazing value.
They announced the new menu for the coming six week stint and by the end of our meal we had already booked to go back in a few weeks. Can’t really give it higher praise than that and, as I said, I’m not sure I have the words to do so.