Now, I know what you’re thinking…is it worth the hype?
Frankly, the debut Edinburgh menu, (which changes every six weeks) is sensational. The first menu themed ‘The Chippie’ is sure to challenge your taste buds, and will certainly make you rethink your next order at Cafe Picante.
Six courses, (five savoury and one sweet), six wines paired wines (should you wish, we, of course, did) and excellent service. What’s not to love?
The menu – course by course
We were lucky enough to dine at the restaurant the night before the official opening, and the buzz in the restaurant did not disappoint. Waiting staff hurried around delivering countless plates and matching wines, while diners oohed and ahhed at the clever interpretations of traditional and commonplace dishes. First up, the one you’ve all be hearing about, ‘Chips & Cheese’. While it looked nothing like the cheesy mess that has (on occasion) adorned a polystyrene box devoured by me, the smell was notably recognisable. This concoction of crisp potato, parmesan espuma, and curry oil was utterly delicious. Rich and opulent, the only thing this dish was lacking was more potato.
Course two was Steak Pie, and while the favourite course of many of our fellow diners, my least favourite. I found the Speyside beef shin with caramelised & charred onion and red wine sauce slightly mismatched with the rest of the menu, and to be honest, a little bit dry. While generally tasty enough, the courses that were to follow were simply incomparable.
The next course was certainly a visual delight. The scampi, while traditionally made with Dublin Bay Prawn, here was made with Scrabster Monkfish cheek and served with pea ketchup, herb pesto and bergamot. The crunch of the coating against the sweet, soft cheek was delicious and the dish was perfectly complemented by a cold glass of Picpoul. Hardly your average chippie.
Given the success of the previous course, I was certainly looking forward to the prospect of the fish supper, and rightfully so. The Shetland cod was next to the table, served with beer emulsion, confit fennel, crispy samphire and pickled mussels. The mussels were, quite simply, a revelation. A taste of the sea, with a vinegar pickling liquor with soft, flaky cod – all the tastes of a traditional supper, without the guilt (or the greasiness). Most definitely something that I will be attempting – and no doubt failing to replicate – at home.
We smelt the next course leave the pass before it arrived at the table – smoked sausage. And by smoked, I mean smokey. The lids of the dishes were dramatically lifted to waft smoke, and reveal Ayrshire pork, salt baked celeriac and caramelised apple. While flavoursome and reminiscent of a chip shop smoked sausage, the smoke may have been slightly overpowering for some and the lack of potato was slightly frustrating. (Can we add a few chips, please?!)
The final course of the evening was soon to be served – alongside a Sherry and Irn Bru cocktail. While the pud looked nothing like any deep-fried Mars Bar I’d ever tasted, it had the hallmarks of any good pud. Chocolate Sorbets, caramelised orange and caramilla nougat combined to make a sweet, chocolatey pool – washed down surprising well by a sherry.
Will we be back at Six by Nico?
All in all, Six by Nico was an outstanding experience that exceeded all expectations and I very much look forward to trying future menus. My only concern for this restaurant is managing the balance of consistent quality and creativity within the confines of a theme, but at only £28 for a six-course menu, a regular visit is certainly on the agenda.
I may go easy on the wine next time, but then again, at £25, maybe not. Can we have a standing reservation for every six weeks, please?
The countdown is on…5 weeks and 3 days to go.
Find them: 97 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1DJ
Call them: 0131 225 5050