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!