Restaurant Review: Six by Nico (Manchester, UK)

Picture the scene: Halloween night, 7pm. Of course, since we had plans and live in Manchester, it was absolutely hammering it down with rain. And I don’t just mean a little trickle: it was like the heavens wanted us to have to take a taxi instead of just enjoying a relaxing fifteen minute stroll up the road. Anyway, my wife and I were celebrating our anniversary and we wanted to go somewhere a little bit special, so cancelling was not on the cards.

From the outside, Six by Nico admittedly looked a little cold and unwelcoming. The Manchester branch is not only housed in an old Edwardian-style building that makes it look quite bare on the exterior, but I can’t imagine the rain helped either. However, when you step inside the restaurant itself, it’s like night and day; atmosphere, cosiness and warmth hit you straight in the face.

The concept? Founded by Glaswegian Italian chef Nico Simeone, in short, the menu changes every six weeks and comes with a new theme each time. “Down the Rabbit Hole” takes centre stage at the moment and features some quirky yet apt dishes, and don’t worry, veggies, they do a separate vegan/vegetarian-adjacent menu for you too.

Pictured above is the featured menu and yes, it is edible, as you can probably see. Although the menu itself is only made from simple sugar paper, it’s details like these that provide that extra little thrill for diners.

Firstly, the price versus the quality here is outstanding. Simeone has stated publicly that his mission is to make fine dining more accessible to the masses, and at £37 per head for a full tasting menu, that is exactly what he achieved with this idea. Although £37 for a meal probably sounds quite steep for one person in somewhere like Pizza Express or Toby Carvery, this is a true fine dining-style experience, so in comparison to literally every other tasting menu in the country, £37 is an absolute bargain.

Of course, my partner and I opted in to the additional Aperitif and Snacks courses – it was a special occasion, so why not? The Ox & Comte Nuggets came first and were a delicious pre-cursor for what was to come. I’d absolutely recommend going for this if you’re super hungry since the sourdough portion is incredibly generous. Sadly when the aperitif turned up, we did notice that we were missing the playing card that was supposed to be pegged onto the side of glass. Obviously this didn’t affect the fact that the gin & jam inspired drink itself was really delicious, but we were missing that little bit of whimsy that other customers seemed to be enjoying.

Let me run through the rest of the menu course by course. (Please note that I failed to take photographs of every single one, since it was all just so tempting!)

Course 2: “The White Rabbit”

Course 1 gets you started with “The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party”. Sure enough, it comes with a salty, savoury scone and a side of tea… Mushroom Tea, that is. Whilst the scone itself was tasty albeit mildly dry, the mushroom tea is where I truly realised we were in for something special. Though you’ll probably be less than impressed if you don’t like the taste of mushrooms (grow up, by the way), the amount of umami and depth the chefs managed to get into this tiny little cup was phenomenal and truly the stand out of this particular dish.

Course 2 (pictured above) is where things get a little more serious. The rabbit & date ballotine takes centre stage, and is paired with various carrot sides and a rich, meaty ‘rabbit bolognese’. I’ll admit that when I first saw that phrase in the description I was not impressed, but combined with the fresh, unmistakable flavour of carrot, it became the perfect accompaniment.

Now Course 3 actually turned out to be one of my favourites, despite being the one I was looking forward to least. “Paint the Roses Red” (pictured below) was a perfect vegetarian delight, which is not what I expected at all. As someone who just cannot get on board with olives, seeing ‘Kalamata Olive Soil’ printed on the menu made me shudder, yet somehow, when combined with a silky celeriac rose, zingy beetroot and a knockout red apple caramel, this dish became the most well-balanced, complex one of them all.

Course 3: “Paint the Roses Red”

Course 4 (below) was the fish course, aptly titled “Eat Me! Drink Me!”, since there was plenty to both eat and drink within this one. A perfectly roasted cod loin sat in the centre, and was surrounded by a pool of warm dashi broth. Whilst this one was tasty and I ate the whole lot of it, I did find myself wanting more of the pickled Tokyo turnip, since the rest of it was very muted and subtly umami-filled. After that first hit of tartness, I failed to find any throughout the rest of the dish, but please note that I’m being incredibly picky on this one.

Course 5 is the one you could easily label ‘the main course’. “Off With Its Head” is named after its deeply rich pig’s head croquette, which sounds gruesome, sure, but was the star of this course in reality. When the dish came to our table, I did notice a huge hit of an almost burnt smell, which I assumed came from the charred cauliflower. Upon further inspection, it became clear that the aroma was actually emitting from the smoky, porky sauce that the rest of the dish sat on. Eat that sauce by itself and I can promise you won’t love the taste, but if you create the perfect bite of everything on this dish altogether? You will be satisfied yet again.

Finally, Course 6 was dessert: a creamy, delicious praline ice cream paired with chocolate cremeaux, chocolate soil, and a zingy, fruity sherry gel on the side. Although this one was super tasty in and of itself, I do wish the finale had more of a palate cleanser feel to it, since the last couple of courses were so rich. Despite that, I can’t complain because, once again, I ate the lot.

Course 4: “Eat Me! Drink Me!”

When it came to the end of our experience, we were able to pay quickly and finish our drinks without feeling rushed, which is honestly one of the main things I look for when dining out. I mean, what’s worse than having to chase someone down for a bill? Absolutely nothing: it really gets on my nerves in a perhaps dramatic way, but thankfully there was none of that.

As we left, we did notice that it was still raining heavily outside, which we’d forgotten about almost instantaneously the second we stepped foot in the building. That in itself is testament to what a good time we had at Six By Nico, which was nothing but good food, pleasant service and excellent company.

Overall, I can’t in good conscience give this restaurant anything less than 5 Qs. Although there were some minor flaws with some of the courses, I really tried to pick holes at least a little bit purely because nowhere can be 100% perfect, can it?

On the whole though, I’d recommend this place to anyone who is either a self-proclaimed ‘foodie’ or anyone who isn’t afraid to try new things. If you’re even slightly picky about what you eat, this might not be such a hit for you, but if you’re honestly willing to go down the rabbit hole and enjoy the ride, then you’ll no doubt enjoy this as much as we did.

Overall Enjoyability Rating: 


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