Six By Nico, Leeds – Restaurant Review
By Steve Crabtree, September 2023
I was a bit late to the library at Six By Nico this time around. With their six-course menu changing every six weeks, you have to be quicker than I to make sure you can get a table early.
This time around it was ‘Six Chapters of Food’, with each course weaving its own story onto a plate, based on children’s classic storybooks. And now I’m going to tell you about my experience.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
Me and my other half were booked into this incredible place for a late lunch, and it was Sam who welcomed us into Six By Nico. A pleasant guy who warmly introduced himself and showed us to our table towards the back of the room. We were further greeted by the two members of the bar staff as we walked through the restaurant, and that first impression of friendliness is something that does not go unappreciated by people.
As we sat down, my wife noticed that she’d got a view of the chefs meticulously constructing each dish, as she was facing the open kitchen. I remembered that being something that added to our experience when I came here for the launch of Six when it arrived in Leeds. If you’re booking yourself in here, ask for a table where as many of you can see the kitchen as possible. It’s a great watch.
Claudio was our waiter for the afternoon. He was to be our fountain of knowledge when it came to each dish, and each glass of wine we were about to indulge ourselves in. We couldn’t wait for our food, and the menu looked delicious.
“The smooth with the crumbly”
One of my favourite reads as a kid, and my favourite Roald Dahl penned story by far was The Twits. I loved and laughed at the mischief that they got up to, so to learn the opener on this menu was inspired by that book whipped up a bit of excitement in me. And when the Bird Pie was placed in front of us, we looked forward to tucking in.
Bird Pie mixed the smooth with the crumbly. Perhaps the least artistic of the six courses, it’s made up of Chicken & Duck Leg Ragu, Pickled Celeriac, and Prune and Caramelised Puff Pastry. In a bowl, the dish packed a little surprise as you took your first fork full. Beneath the texture-mixed top surface, was a combo of very tasty, shredded chicken and duck, tender and together in a very warm and homely flavoured ragu. Mixed with the celeriac and pastry, we had a lovely entree to the six courses.
Point to note: You have to remember to take smaller forkfuls of each dish at Six. The menu is based on fine dining, and if you’re like me, you’ll forget about taking your time with the first course, and gleefully wolf it down!
With both of our bowls clear after our first course, next up was the course entitled Just Right Porridge. You can probably guess that this is the plate that comes with a Goldilocks and the Three Bears feel. Plated up this time, we get Spaetzle, Barbecue Maitake with white turnip and a black garlic dressing. The maitake was prepared nicely, and the garlic dressing matched up with it perfectly.
To look at the dish, you wouldn’t think of porridge, but then you get some of the spaetzle into the reckoning, and you’ve got it right there. Spaetzle is a German egg noodle kind of dumpling dish, and I really liked it. As did my other half. Mushrooms don’t agree with my wife though, so for this course, the chefs agreed to offer a leek alternative – much to her pleasure. And that left her just as happy with this course as I was.
We took our time with this one, and in slowing down it allowed us to savour what we were eating..
We also received our first glass of wine with this option. A very nice and fresh Sauvignon Blanc, the Viile Metamorfosis Feteasca Alba is a Romanian wine, which had a fruity feel to it, and it paired with the mushroom course well. I’m not necessarily a wine person, but the offering at Six By Nico is very good on the palate.
“A tasty accompaniment”
So, none sooner were our ‘porridge’ plates taken away than it was swiftly on to course three. And this time, we’d turned a page into a story that I’m not familiar with: Dr Seuss. I Like Them, Sam-I-Am! is a plate that presents us with a smoked ham-hough sandwich, with garden pea pesto and egg yolk jam.
The inverted ham-hock sandwich looked great and tasted better. A big fan of ham hock and scotch egg, the nice touch on this was the jam that allowed you to combine the tastes and that really made the course work. I’m not a fan of garden peas though, and the pesto that is popped onto the plate carries that earthy taste that doesn’t really suit my tastebuds. I eat much of it though. And, when mixed with the jam and the hock, it’s ok. I know others who appreciate those flavours will enjoy it, but I think I’d have preferred a more neutral or sweeter tasting pesto.
Over the table, my wife suggested a little more egg yolk jam would be a good idea. I don’t disagree with her there. It was a tasty accompaniment and for the size of the sandwich, I don’t think any diner would have said no to a little bit more!
And of course, with another course comes another drink. Wine wise this time, we were on Bevicisù Rosso. The Italian red was fresh and light, and again – another good pick to go with our food.
“Thank goodness for the sole ballotine”
One thing I like about Six By Nico is it’s that type of restaurant where you can dress up to the nines and treat it as a very special occasion, or you can rock up a little more casually and have a chilled-out, more social experience with friends. It’s a fuss-free, but elegant place that everyone seems to enjoy. There was a nice, mixed crowd of ages in Six this afternoon. The atmosphere was lovely.
Now. Carrots. My most detested veg, and top of my ‘worst foods ever’ list. So, when we’re served up ‘Dip Face, Have A Carrot’ (Matilda) for course four, thank goodness for the sole ballotine and lobster jus that comes alongside the tandoori baked carrot, and carrot top pesto. Thankfully, the dreaded orange thing I receive isn’t huge, and the way it’s prepared made it more than bearable for this carrotist foodie!
But stealing the show here was the jus and the sole. In fact, the power of the jus meant it imposed itself on this course, and the sole was a big player to the plate. It was a succulent piece of fish, about the size of a golf ball, and it meant I could enjoy this course too. The zingy and crisp Pinot Grigio Colline Pescaresi that came with this dish was my favourite wine of the day.
It wasn’t just me who isn’t a fan of something on this course though! My wife asked for an alternative to the fish elements, and was instead presented with gnocchi and a carrot jus instead. The willingness to make tweaks to a set menu is absolutely lovely. Six by Nico isn’t too precious to do something to suit, and this place just keeps ticking the positive boxes. (She thought the carrot was delicious, by the way).
“Wonderful, memorable food”
Now – dish five was my favourite. There’d been a bit of a gradual build-up to the penultimate course, which offered us the more substantial I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff. Yep, the Three Little Pigs tell the story of this course. And, on our plates, we had a pork roulade, pumpkin, sweet & sour choucroute, smoked ash emulsion, and a bourguignon jus.
This one was alive with incredible tastes and textures and we both savoured every bite of this delicious option. For the meat lover, you won’t be disappointed with what this course has to offer and the delightful roulade which took centre stage of this chapter won the award for most satisfying piece of food for me. I took doubly long to eat this dish, just to make it last longer. The bourguignon jus won a mighty thumbs up from me too.
I know the chefs must have a lot of fun creating these dishes, but to be able to line up the combinations that they do on a plate and do it so well…it’s a huge credit to them. They make wonderful, memorable food. And I’m a huge fan.
We get a Chilean merlot with this course, and that proved to be the heaviest wine on the menu. If I ever write a wine film, I’m calling it Merlot and Me, and like the dog soundalike movie, you’d be crying at the end of it. But that’d be whilst laughing at my face while drinking red wine. However, I loved this one, and despite reservations as it was brought over, I drank the entire glass and didn’t wince once!
“The happy ending”
So – we were nearly done. What a great tale so far, and for dessert, we were given a plate of chocolate heaven. Brucey, Brucey! again from Matilda was sensational, and disappeared very quickly. Here, we got Chocolate Cremeux, Miso Caramel, Mango & Passion Fruit. The richness and the freshness here made for a nice and light way to round off a lovely meal with the right touch of sweetness. And along with the fruity Moscato dAsti DOCG Bersano dessert wine, we’d had the happy ending we’d hoped for in yet another great experience here.
I can’t praise the menu enough. We were in Six By Nico for two hours, and the time just flew by. I’ve been lucky enough to dine here twice now, and both times I’ve come away waxing lyrical about the place. The food is nice, the concepts are clever, and the service is just perfect.
It’s definitely a place that I’d recommend everyone to try. Everyone has had a nice meal out at some point in their life, but the way it works at Six By Nico, you remember it for many reasons. And it’s highly likely you’ll want to visit again for whatever comes next.
The Once Upon a Time menu at Six by Nico in Leeds was cooking until 24th September. Next time around, there’s a Catalonian-inspired menu. That, to me, is like a red rag to a toro. I’ll be sure to get into that one sooner.
The Six Course food menu is £39pp, with the matching wine option available for an extra £30pp.
Six By Nico, 9 E Parade, Leeds LS1 2AJ
Mon 4:30pm – 11:45pm
Wed & Thu: 4:30pm – 11:45pm
Fri – Sun: 12pm – 11:45pm
T: 0113 340 6666