Don’t be late for your important date as Six by Nico are already a week into their new menu theme. Could this be the only restaurant group that introduces an entirely new six course tasting menu every six weeks?

The Scottish-born group now has nine restaurants across the UK and Ireland and opened their Manchester venue mid 2019 with a menu called ‘The Chippie’. Since then, six-week-long themes have ranged from the geographical (Paris, Greece, Catalonia, New York City and Hollywood), to the more abstract (Guilty Pleasures, Nostalgia, Circus.)

I don’t know how they do it, but chef Nico Simeone and his team seem to bat away behind-the-scenes logistics like they’re no problem, inventing quite intricate dishes with multiple parts, costing those new dishes, staff training, wine matching and more. Not only that, but they have recently developed variations of each tasting menu so they can now accommodate vegetarians and vegan diets.

But although the themes change, prices stay consistent at £37 per person for a six-course tasting menu with the option to enjoy a matching wine flight for another £30pp. The latest theme, Down the Rabbit Hole, celebrates a literary land of wonder and mystery. (They must be fans of Lewis Carroll fans as The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party has featured as a previous theme.)

As ever, the menu begins with an optional aperitif (£7.50) and a snack (£6.50). This time the pre-dinner cocktail is ‘Alice’s Gin & Jam Tart’ a bright sweet and sour drink made from raspberry, white chocolate liqueur, gin and lemon. The snack course, ‘Have I Gone Mad?’, is three bite sized oxtail and Comte nuggets with confit garlic and onion, and sweet roasted tomato ketchup. It’s also served with deliciously chewy sourdough bread sourced locally from The Bread Factory and served with yeasted butter (or olive oil for the lactose-free/plant-based.)

Official course one – Mad Hatters Tea Party – has all the appearances of a traditional filled scone but is actually a savoury version made with Keen’s Cheddar. Inside is smoked bacon jam, truffle Parmesan royale and pickled walnut, and the tea comes in the form of a little cup of warm mushroom broth, poured at the table.

Course two – The White Rabbit – is a ballotine of bunny with beef roasted carrot, tarragon pesto, rabbit Bolognese and carrot ketchup. Accompanied by a crisp and slightly sweet glass of chilled Spumante, it was beautifully presented, delicious and did in fact disappear down the hole pretty quickly.

The third course – Paint the Roses Red – came with a theatrical touch. A set, rose-shaped white celeriac mousse (set with tofu rather than gelatine in the vegan version) with baby beets, radish and olive soil turned red when the server drizzled a red apple caramel dressing over it.

Next was a fish course – Eat Me Drink Me – with roast cod, miso and yuzu glaze, bonito emulsion, a delicately earthy white turnip pureé and a light dashi broth (also poured at the table.) Put it this way, after so many courses, I certainly wasn’t getting any smaller at this point…

Our fifth course is entitled ‘Off with Its Head’ – although the accompanying vegan course of charred hispi cabbage was more sensitively named Curiouser and Curiouser. The meaty main was an autumnal romp of pork belly, choucroute, and apple gel with a brawn croquette, cauliflower and sauce Charcuterie.

Dessert came under a smoky dome. The finale was ‘Learn How To Make Mushrooms’, a chocolate and cep mushroom cremeux with praline ice cream, candied hazelnuts and chocolate soil. Mushroom and chocolate mousse was already quite enough of a boundary push for my tastes and the addition of smoked Maldon salt and cask sherry left us on a slightly sour note which was soon happily washed away by the matching Monbazillac dessert wine.

Seriously though, considering these guys do the culinary equivalent of a three-point turn in a juggernaut every six weeks by providing plate after plate of purees, pastes and pestos, broths and ballotines, sauces, set mousses and more, it’s pretty impressive.

Oh, and if you are still hungry after all that, this menu is printed on edible paper…

The Down The Rabbit Hole menu is available until 20th November.

Six By Nico, 60 Spring Gardens, Manchester, M2 2BQ


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