Our third visit to Six by Nico and this time around the theme was Picnic with a menu that featured sandwiches, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, and strawberries and cream. Ahhhh but fool me twice … by now we know not to expect anything as mundane as an actual sandwich to appear!
The menu then:
- PICNIC BASKET – Smoked Mackerel Pate / Sourdough / House Soda
- SCOTCH EGG – Falafel / Piccalilli / Watercress
- PICNIC BLANKET – Yellowfin Tuna / Tofu / Rose Harissa Yogurt / Herb Crumble
- SANDWICH PLATTER – Duck & Cherry / Ham & Salad Cream / Salmon & Cucumber / Coronation Chicken & Raisin / Crowdie & Beetroot
- BBQ – Ayrshire Pork Belly / Barbecue Sauce / Coal Oil / ‘Potato Salad’s
- STRAWBERRIES & CREAM – Tonka Bean / Balsamic / Black Olive
As always we ordered the Snacks & Bread option to sample the Chicken Caesar Salad Bon Bon, Sweet Potato & Feta Sausage roll, and Tomato Gazpacho with Basil Oil. It’s telling that each time we have tried the Snacks & Bread they have been just as delicious as the main course; the Bon Bon was a succulent and rich garlic laden deep fried ball of delight, the sausage roll was a wonderful balance between the sweetness of the potato and the salty tang from the feta, and the gazpacho was light and fresh.
And then our first course arrived – delivered in a small picnic basket no less – and we were each given a tiny cup to hold freshly made iced tea, and a pot of smoked mackerel pate with accompanying gooseberries. Popping open the tub the escaping smoke set my tastebuds going before the first mouthful and the oily rich pate was perfectly offset by the sharpness of the gooseberries. Off to a great start!!
Next up the scotch egg, a perfectly cooked egg – the centre of the yolk just slightly runny – wrapped in salty falafel was a nice take on the heavy sausage based version you find everywhere else. Served with a pea puree and piccalilli (which I’m not a massive fan of) it was tasty but of all the dishes on offer, my least favourite.
After that the prettiest dish of the evening arrived, squares of tuna, watermelon and tofu gave us our red and white checked picnic blanket. The rose harissa and avocado puree added enough bite and fresh green to make the entire dish a wonderfully light and very moreish combination. Could have happily, and easily, eaten two plates of these.
Fancy a sandwich? Of course there was little in the way of droopy bread abominations on show here, instead we had five separate offerings; fresh thin sliced salmon with shavings of cucumber in a dill gel, ham hough with thin fried bread on a bed of what I can only describe as a grown up salad cream (a hint of vinegar through the rich sauce), spots of crowdie and beetroot puree on a thin slice of sourdough, and my favourite two from the plate; a melt in the mouth duck and deep flavourful cherry puree, and the coronation chicken was a delicious, if subtler, take on the classic (and my perennial favourite) with a raisin puree and slow deep curried sauce.
It was about this point in the meal that I realise I have a stupid big grin on my face, I am excitedly watching my companions finish their plates and we all sit back and argue light-heartedly about which dish was the best on the plate (the duck won I think, but it was a close run thing!).
And now for one item on the menu I was wary of, pork belly. I don’t enjoy eating fatty meats (it’s a texture thing) and have had pork belly in the past and struggled to enjoy it. The flavours are wonderful but those thick layers of fat… shudder.
I should’ve know better though! BBQ was the theme of the plate and we were given a chunk of pork belly that was almost entirely meat, covered in a thick sticky reduced BBQ sauce. The pork was tender and absolutely delicious. It was served on a potato risotto, tiny cubes of par boiled potato and pancetta. A perfect evocation of a summer BBQ and I could happily have eaten two portions (this is becoming a theme!).
And then, all too soon, it was time for dessert. Strawberries and cream, who doesn’t love strawberries and cream! Well at Six by Nico it was a whipped strawberry mouse with tonka bean chantilly cream, a sweetened black olive sauce, and two kinds of meringue (a thin crisp slice and a lighter than air whirl). A wonderful balance of sweetness and texture.
At the end of the meal we were asked how we rated this menu over the previous two and, whilst the Chippie (the first) menu still takes top spot for us, we all agreed that the Picnic was firmly in second. That said, with the bar set so high at every visit, it’s really hard to choose between any of the menus.
Add in the friendly staff, great service, and … and I will keep repeating this in every review… the fact the meal is £25 a head… and the only thing I have to ask is, if you haven’t been yet, WHY NOT?