I’ll let you into a big secret, Six by Nico is that good that when invited to review the Chippie Menu, I jumped at the chance to go again, even though I’d already been a couple of weeks before on its second night. This time I went along on a Tuesday lunch, along with my fellow EdinburghFoody blogger, Caroline. It was that good that it warranted taking a day off.
This new restaurant that has opened up on Hanover Street, in what used to be Passorn, is the brain child of Nico Simeone, whose original year old eatery is in Glasgow’s Finnieston, and the place was buzzing. It’s not hard to see why as the food is imaginative, fine dining with a playful twist and it completely lives up to the hype on social media and in the press.
A six course tasting menu will have you returning time and time again
Six by Nico offers a new set six-course theme every six weeks at £28 a head, which is great value for money, with an optional wine pairing costing £25 a head, which we indulged in too.
Edinburgh’s first menu is the Chippie (until 13 May). With my seafood allergy, I was somewhat worried on my first visit that it might have been a bit of a wasted booking but their vegetarian choices are just as fun and imaginative, marrying up the textures of the meat/fish options with vegetarian options. Very clever.
The hard, flag-stone floors make it quite noisy and as a fellow diner commented on my first visit, it’s a bit like eating in a bar. Thankfully though on our lunchtime visit, the noise level was more subdued. And if you’re one of those people who love all the food programmes on TV, you’ll love Six By Nico as you can watch the skilled kitchen staff plating up your food on the big screens mounted on the wall. There’s a real theatre to the presentation but thankfully Caroline and I had enough to chat about so didn’t actually need to watch the TV and the TV on this occasion was slightly out of line of sight.
Chips & Cheese
The food might be fine dining but you won’t leave hungry. We started with the Chips & Cheese, which took me right back to my childhood and those thin straw-like crisps. In fact, so good was the memory, I even went out the next day to buy some.
With a puff of frothy Parmesan espuma (a Spanish word for foam or froth and the descriptive word for a technique developed by Ferran Adrià), covering tiny slithers of crispy potatoes and dotted with curry oil, the chips & cheese is delicious and nostalgic and sets you up for what is to follow.
Next is scampi, a Scrabster monkfish cheek, pea ketchup, herb pesto and bergamot; unless of course you’re allergic to fish, in which case I was able to opt for the vegetarian option of halloumi served with the same dressings. The pea ketchup that was so good, I had to ask what it contained. I’m going to try and recreate this at home.
The steak pie, Speyside beef shin with caramelised and charred onion on a pastry shard, was served with a red wine jus, was particularly satisfying. I love beef shin, which requires slow cooking over a low heat and results in a moist, tender meat with a rich flavour.
The main event, the fish supper, was a Shetland cod, with a beer emulsion, pickled mussels, confit fennel and samphire. It looked pretty as a picture on the plate but was no good for me. My substitute was Gnocchi with the same caramelised and charred onion as had been served with the beef, with salt and vinegar scraps.
I’ve never been a huge fan of gnocchi, believing it’s a food that should be consigned to Room 101, but Six by Nico may have caused me to reassess. The Chippie’s gnocchi were light and smooth and paired really well with the caramelised and charred onion, which gave flavour to what can normally be such a bland dish.
The Smoked Sausage was the real winner (along with the chips & cheese) of the menu. Served in a glass cloche, filled with smoke, when the smoke wafts away, you’re presented with a beautiful Ayrshire pork sausage, with a wedge of salt baked celeriac, and caramelised apple, and another green apple puree, which cuts through the richness of the smoked sausage.
Deep Fried Mars Bar
The final swan-song, is the Deep Fried Mars Bar, which plays on the so-called dish that Edinburgh chippies are apparently famous for. I did actually try this once, when I first moved to the city but it was so sickly, I could only manage a bite. In contrast, the sorbets of chocolate, orange and an amazing unctuous caramilla nougat, and crispy biscuit crumbs, was streets ahead of any deep fried Mars Bar you’ll ever taste. Paired with the Nightcap Perfect Pair, of Irn-Bru and Butter Washed Fino Sherry, it was a match made in heaven.
Speaking of fish: a couple of notes from Caroline
To me, a visit to the chippie is all about the fish: glorious white flesh steamed in its crispy batter. The chippie menu doesn’t let us down. The second course is the scampi: scrabster monkfish cheeks with pea ketchup, herb pesto and bergamot gel. Delicate and flaky.
The fish supper contains some of my very favourite things: a tower of crisp cod, silky beer emulsion, deliciously salty samphire and confit fennel. Pickled mussels added pops of acidity. This dish worked beautifully with the matched cremant.
Kerry’ final word
We loved our afternoon at Six By Nico and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter unveils. With so many other dining choices in the city, it’s often hard to return somewhere again but when a place does things well, offers great friendly service and produces food that’s exciting and changes every six weeks, it’s hit on a winning formula that will have you returning time and time again – or in my case, twice in three weeks. Six By Nico is definitely worth all the hype.
Six By Nico
97 Hanover Street
Edinburgh EH2 1DJ
Tel: 0131 225 5050
Caroline and Kerry ate at the invitation of Six By Nico.