Local foodies have flocked to Six by Nico - the newest restaurant on the Dublin scene.
Six by Nico is a unique and intriguing restaurant experience brought to life by owner and chef Nico Simeone. The concept behind Six by Nico is simple, yet genius - to offer a new six course tasting menu every six weeks at an affordable price. I was delighted to get a first look (and first taste!) of Dublin's newest food experience.
Each course is designed to invoke a sense of nostalgia - and that it does! I was brought back to my school days eating a curry chip butty with my first boyfriend on the “bounce” from school, sorry Mam! (More about that nostalgia later..) I imagine this menu is particularly nostalgic for Nico himself, being the son of a chip shop owner.
When myself and my dining partner entered the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by an attentive maître d' and a bustling atmosphere brimming with a variety of diners excited for the launch of this hotly anticipated restaurant. The venue itself was designed in an earthy-green colour pallet. The ceiling has exposed white pipes and at the time of dining there was a false wall at the back of the room that had hidden the kitchen, but we were told it would be removed ahead of the opening so that diners can view the magic.
I had already dined at one of Nico’s establishments in London, but I was particularly excited to see the Six by Nico offering here in my hometown of Dublin which is fast becoming a firm favourite city on most “foodies” must-try maps. The appetite for high-end dining in Dublin has increased hugely over the last number of years, with the opening of Six by Nico being the cherry on top for 2021!
We decided to go with a vegetarian option as well as the typical tasting menu to be able to give it the full once over and we also had our arm twisted (they didn’t have to try hard) and opted for the wine pairing. Rachel, carefully talked us through each course during the evening with only the knowledge one would possess from being there since day one.
First up - the snacks, accompanied with an aperitif. Smoked Cod Croquettes along with freshly baked sourdough and shellfish butter. The croquettes were cooked to perfection, soft on the inside but beautiful crispy outside sitting on top of a mocked-up newspaper. The smoked flavour of the cod worked perfectly with the pickled flavours of the onion & gherkin ketchup. The sourdough had a perfectly tangy flavour, it was chewy and had a delightful crackly crust (top tip; ensure to keep your bread for the next course!). We hadn’t even reached our first course yet and we were already very impressed... The accompanying “Sea Side Spritz” aperitif has led me to ensure I combine thyme syrup with all my cocktails this festive season!
Snacks: (L) Smoked Cod Croquettes Gherkin Ketchup, Rapeseed Emulsion, Pickled Onion & Malt Vinegar Powder
(R) Sourdough Bread & Shellfish Butter
Next, was the first of six courses of the evening, "Chips & Cheese". Depending on what part of the country you are from you may have previously indulged in a curry cheese chip; a divisive topic amongst most. If you are of the cheese has no place near curry school of thought, prepare to have your mind inevitably changed by this course. A beautifully layered crispy potato terrine is served on a dollop of fragrant curry oil emulsion and alongside that a bowl of Parmesan Espuma, a Spanish culinary term for foam. I am of the opinion that foam is the culinary equivalent of a hyperbolic sentence, often used for show and not adding any real substance or complexity to a meal. However, this Espuma was different. The texture of the foamy yet creamy dish was an absolute delight of the evening, perfect for dipping that leftover sourdough into - see I told you it would come in handy.
First course: Chips & Cheese. Parmesan Espuma, Curry Oil & Emulsion & Crisp Potato Terrine.
The second course "Scampi" consisted of Crispy Monkfish Cheek, Dill Emulsion, Gribiche, Peas and Beurre Blanc with the monkfish being substituted with Cauliflower Beignet for vegetarians. This was a delicate and nuanced dish, with the Gribiche being a surprising yet vital element marrying everything beautifully together. For the vegetarian option the Cauliflower Beignet was fried in a gorgeous light beer batter, made in house with a combination of Irish beers. This was all paired with a very easy drinking Picpoul de Pinet. Overall this was a light, fresh course that led us perfectly into our next.
Second Course (L) Scampi Crispy Monkfish Cheek, Dill Emulsion, Gribiche, Peas & Beurre Blanc
(R) (Veg Opt) Halloumi Confit Fennel, Samphire, House Sauce & Beer Scraps
The third course was the humble "Steak Pie". Whilst it may not be as popular here in Ireland as they are over the pond, they can often be found drying out at a deli counter. But this is no deli counter steak pie, oh no. This beef shin has been slow cooked for 13 hours, served with burnt onion ketchup, mushroom duxelle and a meaty salsa. Upon first bite I found the beef to be a bit too sweet, however I very quickly learnt that this dish is created to allow for all elements of it to be devoured together. The wine paired with this course was a Primitive Appassimento from Puglia. This wine was chosen specifically because it is low in tannin and acidity with a combination of its fruity notes of plum and raspberry, it is light and allows the food to do all the talking.
Third Course: Steak Pie 24 Hour Beef Shin, Burnt Onion Ketchup, Mushroom Duxelle & ‘Meaty Salsa’.
By this point of the evening we are over half way through our courses and we were definitely enjoying ourselves, as were all the tables around us. The floor is filled with experienced staff, the hustle and bustle of the restaurant brings a brilliant atmosphere and considering this is one of their first services in Dublin - the service is seamless. We can see from our seats that Nico himself is very hands on, even making an appearance in the kitchen.
Next, we are brought our 4th course, the much anticipated “Fish Supper” and I can confirm it did live up to its hype. The cod was superbly cooked, not overdone and deliciously flaky. It was served with pickled mussels, they were pickled in local beer for over 24 hours which really intensified their flavour. It was presented on a bed of confit fennel, now as someone who isn’t fennel’s biggest fan this pleasantly surprised me! All of this was topped with “scraps”, which are deep fried salt and vinegar beer batter scraps… and yes, they are as good as they sound. For the vegetarian option the cod is replaced by a salty halloumi and it has the addition of a delectable homemade brown sauce, which would make me understand why ’Intermissions’ Colin Farrell put it in his tea. The pairing of a Romanian Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect choice here, it is versatile and sits exactly in the middle. Its creamy buttery texture works perfectly with the sharp elements of the dish, the softness of the wine grounds it.
Fourth Course: (L) Fish Supper Shetland Cod, Pickled Mussels, Confit Fennel, Samphire & Beer Emulsion
(R) (Veg Opt)Halloumi Confit Fennel / Samphire / House Sauce / Beer Scraps
Our fifth and last savoury course is served with a side of theatrics, the smoked sausage dish appears at our table under a translucent cloche. The cloche is slowly removed by the wait staff in a swirling motion to ensure the white puff of smoke takes pride of place on your Instagram story! Bravo Nico, top marketing! The trio of pork is made up of cheek, belly and shoulder with each as good as the last. The shoulder did however stand out, it is wrapped in what can only be described as a buttery crackling. Upon further inspection, it turns out to be wrapped in a whipped potato mixture. They are served with a sharp applesauce, salty baked celeriac and in another nod to his location a firm Irish favourite, black pudding. This dish is paired with another Romanian wine from the same vineyard as the last, this time a cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is slightly more muted, perfect to pair with the salty elements of the dish, it has less acidity and higher tannin to combine with the apple. It is relatively full bodied but it does not overpower the dish.
Fifth Course: Smoked Sausage Trio of Pork, Apple, Black Pudding, Salt Baked Celeriac & Choucroute
The sixth and final course of the evening is dessert. This sweet course is the famous deep-fried mars bar. To those who are not familiar with this Scottish delicacy, it is exactly what it sounds like. Originating near Aberdeen in the 90’s as a novelty in the local chippie, this unusual item has made it into the hearts and menus of most chippies in Scotland and beyond! However, the size of the deep-fried mars bar in Nico’s offering has been debated by some diners, with some saying it is too small. However, I beg to disagree, as someone who has indulged in many deep-fried mars bars, I can attest to it being the perfect amount. It is served alongside a chocolate pave, with a crumbly chocolate soil and a culinary revolution in the form of an Irn Bru sorbet. Our last wine pairing of the evening was a Hungarian dessert wine. This wine had notes of honey and marmalade, ensuring a great contrast with the citrus flavour in the dish.
Final Course: Deep Fried Mars Bar, Chocolate Pave, Irn Bru Sorbet & Chocolate Soil
Overall, myself and my fellow diner were throughly impressed with 'The Chipper' menu at Six by Nico’s first sitting in Dublin. Nico's business model brings a delicately plated, deliciously tasty tasting menu to the public at an affordable price. 'The Chipper' menu creates a fun and nostalgic theme, that everyone can relate to. The changing of the theme every six weeks will also having diners coming back for more!
This is affordable luxury dining. Exactly what Dublin needs.
Six Course Tasting Menu - €45
Wine Pairing - €39
Learn more about Six by Nico and book your experience here.