Well look at us, writing a restaurant review. It’s been a long time…
March was a heck of a month, wasn’t it? You could feel it all brewing. A lockdown was clearly on the horizon. I remember, on 12 March, getting on a train for a meeting at our Norwich HQ thinking, ‘this is a bad idea, I shouldn’t be doing this…’.
Just a few short days later, on 16 March, we were told to stay out of pubs, clubs and theatres, and to stop non-essential travel and contact with. By 23 March, ‘non-essential’ businesses were ordered to close. And that was it. Going out for dinner was off the menu.
It was a dark day for everyone in hospitality, but for those about to launch a new venture, like chef Nico Simone, who was due to launch Six by Nico in Fitzrovia on 31 March, it was doubly devastating.
But now, finally, after a period of cook-alongs, podcasts and offering a Home by Nico delivery service, Nico is back in the kitchen with his brigade and cooking on gas – Six by Nico is go!
But it won’t be around for long – every six weeks, an entirely new six-course tasting will be launched, each inspired by places, memories and ideas.
With ‘The Chippie’, the humble British favourite, fish and chips, is somewhat inconceivably transformed from a pile of greasy beigeness (meant with love), into a delicate parade of fine dining dishes. And yes, a deep-fried Mars Bar does feature.
‘With “The Chippie”, the humble British favourite, fish and chips, is somewhat inconceivably transformed from a pile of greasy beigeness (meant with love), into a delicate parade of fine dining dishes’
Nico’s Italian background, combined with his upbringing in Glasgow, meant his childhood was centred around good food, and at the core of that was his family’s chip shop, owned by his grandparents and passed down through two generations.
Items on the menu have been creatively re-imagined with a fun, contemporary twist. The amuse bouche is a filo cannelloni filled with taramasalata, keta caviar and crème fraiche, served on a plate of pebbles, and the first course is ‘chips & cheese’, which has been re-imagined as a brandade croquette coated in vinegar powder and served with a crispy Parmesan espuma and a curry oil dip that, on its own, is to die for.
The second course is where, if you’ve opted in, the wine pairing kicks in. Here, scampi, one of my all-time favourite pub lunches, becomes a Scrabster monkfish cheek on a bed of dill emulsion, gribiche, peas and beurre blanc, enhanced by a light, citrusy Casa de Vila Nova Vinho Verde.
Next comes the ‘steak pie’, a ‘deconstructed’ pie of shredded Speyside beef shin with a mushroom duxelle, a rich, ‘meaty salsa’ sauce and dollop of burnt onion ketchup, served with a deep, rich, Amauta Malbec by El Porvenir de Cafayate. This course was a little rich for me. The beef was divine, as was the mushroom duxelle, but it was the rather potent meaty salsa that tipped it over the edge for me. It could simply be that, after three months of lockdown and a diet of pizza, frozen bean burgers and stir fry, I’m not used to such decadence!
‘Scotland’s infamous deep fried Mars Bar is served as a little nugget of naughtiness alongside a chocolate pavé’
Then comes the ‘fish supper’, a delectable dish of Shetland cod atop a confit fennel with samphire, beer emulsion and pickled mussels, served with a gorgeous Boutinot La Fleur Solitaire Cotes du Rhone Blanc; followed by the ‘smoked sausage’, a trio of pork that arrives under a glass cloche filled with smoke for a little Instagrammable drama, paired with a delightful German pinot noir by Hanewald-Schwerdt.
And for dessert, it’s Scotland’s infamous deep fried Mars Bar, served as a little nugget of naughtiness alongside a chocolate pavé with a dash of blood orange sorbet, a sprinkling of cocoa nib and a glass of honeyed, rich, Araldica Moscato Passito Palazzina.
‘The Chippie’ menu is one heck of a feat, but what’s perhaps most astonishing is the price point – just £35 per person with matching wines for £33. God bless the Glaswegians.
33-41 Charlotte Street W1T 1RR; sixbynico.co.uk