Six by Nico has generated quite a buzz in the Northern Ireland food scene over the past week. Nico Simone, the Scottish-Italian chef has brought his innovative dining experience from Scotland to Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.
The concept involves Nico and his team serving up a six course taster menu themed on a place or a memory; with the theme changing every six weeks. Themes to date have included Paris, Route 66, Vietnamese Street Food, Forest, Mexico, Chilhood (which I know involves a posh pot noodle dish), Picnic, Sicily, New York and their current menu “The Chippie”.
We were kindly invited along to try out The Chippie menu during the launch week of their Belfast restaurant. This menu puts a twist on some of the most popular fish and chip shop favourites in a way you could never imagine. The restaurant itself is beautiful open plan, you can watch the chefs and staff in action while the food is being plated up.
First Course – “Chips and Cheese”
One of my absolute favourites from the chip shop, served in a way I’d never had it served before. Crisp potato, parmesan espuma and curry oil. Nico’s take on this dish is so light, creamy and feels very sophisticated. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all, but a very pleasant surprise to the palate.
Second Course – “Scampi”
A good old scampi supper is my childrens go to meal from our local Chip Shop. I don’t remember it ever tasting as good as this monkfish cheek served with pea emulsion, wild garlic and gribiche though. The crunch of the coating was perfectly complimented by the soft, tender cheek (it just fell apart beautiful in your mouth). So tasty!
Third Course – “Steak Pie”
Honestly, I have never had a bit of beef like it! Beef shin served with burnt onion ketchup, mushroom duxelle, red wine and glazed puff pastry. It could possibly be my favourite dish, except I have said that with every dish so far! The mushroom duxelle compliment the beef shin perfectly too.
Fourth Course – “Fish Supper”
Next onto some cod served with confit fennel, samphire and beer pickled mussels. You don’t get that sort of fish supper in the Doury Frier that’s for sure! The cod was flaky and bursting full of flavour, simply delicious.
Fifth Course – “Smoked Sausage”
I would say the smoked sausage was the pinnacle for me, not just because of its snazzy presentation but the aromas and flavours sent my tastebuds tingling. As the server removed the glass cloche covering the dish, you are met with with a waft of smoke before the beautifully presented dish is displayed in front of you. The trio of pork is served along with salt baked celeriac, caramelised apple and black pudding. It was sensational, and kind of reminded of on a sausage roll stuffed with pulled pork. My absolute favourite savoury dish for sure!
Sixth Course – “Battered Mars Bar”
OH LORD! Taking me way back to my childhood days when my cousin and I would nip to the shop and buy a mars bar for about 50p and the chip shop would batter it for £1! However, this dish didn’t have the same stodgy-ness and didn’t result in the same sickly feeling as the original. Caramelia chocolate, orange sorbet and chocolate nib! Sweet and sinful, perhaps the best dessert I’ve ever had!
All in all our experience was very pleasant. The staff were attentive, friendly and knew the menu like the back of their hand. The price of the menu at £28 for 6 courses is extremely reasonable (you can add a wine to complement each course for just £25). I will absolutely be looking to book back in for their next theme, although I believe they are fully booked for the next six weeks already. Thanks for having us Nico, it’s been great!