Six by Nico - possibly the most savvy business model?!
It’s almost two weeks since I was invited to a new restaurant opening in Belfast. It’s not often there is much ado about a new eating place opening however, Nico, a Scottish/Italian chef in challenging all the menu stereotypes has enjoyed quite the foray over the opening of his new establishment in Waring Street, Belfast.
The concept, in business terms is genius. One theme with 6 courses that changes every 6 weeks - a new ‘taster menu’ if you will, every 6 weeks. Clever! Overheads must be a minimum but that is reflected in the price, with the set menu costed at £28pp which is super reasonable when you see the quality of the ingredients and the food produced. There is the option to go for the complementing wine with each course which understandably is slightly more expensive.
While sitting round making our introductions to the other bloggers at our table we were brought out an appetiser – and so a 6 course soon becomes 7 courses! Cod bon bons, homemade brown sauce served with actual genuine sourdough bread (although many claim it, the genuine article is a thing of rarity!) and the lightest of whipped butter. Well this has set the tone for the day!
While waiting on our ‘first’ course to come, very well-rehearsed and knowledgeable young staff descended on our table with a gin and sherry aperitif. Do I like gin? Absolutely can’t abide the stuff. Do I like sherry? In a trifle perhaps. Turns out if you put Gin and Sherry in the same glass and add some samphire its liquid gold! Who knew?! I’m never fond of leaving a drink behind but alas I was driving on the day of my visit to Six by Nico…most upset I was to leave this drink behind me!
Onwards and upwards, course number 1 arrived…chips and cheese. When one visualises chips and cheese it’s normally on Sally’s Hill in Omagh at 2.30am but this was served with much more style and class. While still taking form of classic comfort food, it was a cheesy foam with crisp potato curls at the bottom. I’m not doing it justice at all but I promise we all had it consumed within a few spoonful’s and were all oohing and aahing and how delicious it was!
The wait between the courses wasn’t long at all so course two was hot on the heels of the chips and cheese. ‘Scampi’ i.e. monkfish cheeks with pea and garlic – super meaty and satisfying as monkfish often is but the pea and garlic were so full of flavour adding a great hint of saltiness. It left you wanting more as the portions were small but 3 or 4 courses deep and you be thankful of the smaller portions!
Deconstructed ‘Steak Pie’ was next up – beef shin that just absolutely melted in the mouth. Incredible skills! Burnt onion ketchup and a mushroom duxelle all added to the depth of flavour and textures. There was even a tiny bit of puff pastry, the crumbliest I’ve ever had…and let’s face it I’ve eaten a lot of pastry in my day!
Cod with fennel was our next treat - ‘Fish Supper’. It’s a phrase often used in the likes of Masterchef and such but you never really know what they mean until it happens…the cod actually flaked apart in the gentlest, most fragile of ways. It was literally melt in the mouth and probably one of my favourite courses of the day. A bed of samphire, while ridiculously salty on its own, but just the right flavour when incorporated with everything else on the plate. It’s a different kind of magic!
Last of the savoury courses took the form of a trio of pork. Dubbed ‘Smoked Sausage’ on the menu, it was pork rolled with a crispy, delicious skin, served with apple and celeriac. Ground breaking flavour combinations? Absolutely not, but they were executed excellently and the balance of the bitterness of the apple was perfect with the sweetness of the baked celeriac.
Dessert! Yasssss! Although certainly full from the all the savouries, granny McCarron always said there was a separate stomach for dessert and there might be something in what she was saying cause no matter how full I am, I can always make room for something sweet.
‘Deep Fried Mars Bar’ – Carmelia chocolate (chocolate & salted caramel tones), the freshest of orange sorbets and cocoa nib. It was delish! Again, nothing ground breaking with the flavour combinations but executed so dang well! I’m still thinking about the orange sorbet. It was light and fresh, there wasn’t a hint of that synthetic, overpowering ‘orange’ flavour often experienced with orange ‘flavoured’ desserts.
Not at all shabby! Fab finish to a fab meal. My only problem is now, I’m going to want to go back every 6 weeks….! I see what you’re at here Nico…clever, very clever!