Six by Nico creates a modern, magical, fairy-tale feast

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Beauty and the Beast

I cast back to when our children were at the age they loved bed-time stories. To be fair, they still do; just without needing anyone to read to them these days. The stories always began: ‘Once upon a time’. So His & Hers was hooked on the concept of the ‘Once upon a time’ Six by Nico theme. It felt like there was magic in the air and the promise of puddings sprinkled with fairy dust. ‘Tap into your inner child’ urged the intro menu. Impossible to resist.

Feature by Jean Hill

The aperitif ‘Mary Poppins, a Spoonful of Sugar’ was made with ‘sugar and spice and all things nice’. Specifically: spiced rum, cherry cordial, ginger, citrus and cherry sherbet. It had the wow factor for me and left a warm glow: rum is my spirit of choice.

We started the food with a snack course: Fantastic Mr Fox, ‘Farmer Bunce’s Liver and Doughnuts’ This comprised duck liver mousse, bramble, pain d’épices doughnut, sourdough bread and whipped butter. The mousse was stellar light, but dense with glorious succulent flavour. The sourdough seems to be a pretty consistent offering. It is crisp, substantial:  a slow organic culture that provides delicious taste and something to get your teeth into. There are veggie options for all courses.

On to the first course: Oliver Twist, ‘Please sir can I have some more?’ We enjoyed: confit Hasselback potato, hay baked potato mousseline, preserved wild garlic and pickled onion. The chefs have a way with potatoes: they get elevated to lead character status.

On to the second course: ‘Paddington Bear Marmalade’. I was served sourdough bruschetta, ox cheek rogu, mushroom XO marmalade and truffle. Perfect mix of ingredients, appreciated the contrast of the rogu with the smoothness of the mushrooms and truffle.

Carrot, Six By Nico

The third course was where the humble carrot got star billing. Matilda ‘Hey dip-face, have a carrot’ was pure fantasy made real. Suddenly in front of me appeared a whole baked Tandoori carrot, carrot remoulade, carrot top pesto, saffron pickled carrot and citrus goats curd. The goats curd had good sharp flavour (no disrespect) but the revelation had to be the sheer brilliance of carrot that never tasted so good. Sweet, spicy, just the right amount tender, with pesto that beautifully complemented the saffron pickled carrot. Saffron definitely delivers on the wow factor, and seems to marry perfectly with carrot.

I love fish, and one of my favourites is trout, so this fourth course was a real treat. Danny, Champion of the World: ‘Let’s go Trout Poaching’ was something special. Sea trout came with a dressing of smoked bone velouté and dill dressing, artichoke, sea herbs, bergamot gel and salted cucumber. The trout tasted of the sea (in the best possible sense, slightly salty, crisp and fresh). The trout fine and flaked, was enriched by the accompanying artichoke and salted cucumber. I love how well matched all the flavours are.

Course number five was a show stopper. The Ugly Duckling ‘The Most Beautiful’, was extraordinary. The duck leg was pink, totally tender with intensified flavour and came with pickled walnut, salsify, pear and fig. I need to know how to cook this dish. The vegetarian alternative was Cinderella, with baked pumpkin, goats curd, tarragon, gnocchi and sea herbs.

The finale was Beauty and the Beast ‘The Last Rose Petal,’ which was sheer magic on a plate. It looked sensational. There was an arrangement of mascarpone crème, rose, hibiscus and rhubarb with lemon chocolate Aero. The rhubarb element was inspired because it had that slightly acidic, fabulous kick that beautifully contrasted with the richness of the other ingredients. The lemon and rhubarb countered the sweetness of the other ingredients – a work of art really.

There are wines to accompany four of the courses. Much care has been taken to match the wine to the courses on the menu. Syrah & Negrette perfectly complemented the duck course. My favourite wine was Grains de Plaisir, Cotes de Gascogne. It was rich, smooth, slightly sweet, beautiful colour and in no way cloying. A fabulous end to a lovely evening.

Will go back again to Six by Nico. The hospitality is impressive. Each course was described by staff, with a brief explanation of the accompanying wine. This is an elegant, warm and friendly place to spend an evening. Their food is something quite memorable, for its attention to small details and its sudden bursts of brilliance. Potatoes and carrots taste freshly picked and cooked from a kitchen garden or allotment. It is a really impressive performance.

The menu comes in book form (a food fairy story). It is beautifully illustrated and there is a ‘Once Upon a Time’ themed recipe section. ‘Time to release your inner chef’ I read. Suddenly I remember:

‘When you wish upon a star Makes no difference who you are Anything your heart desires Will come to you…’

From the archives: Six by Nico garners a gastronomic taste of Paris in Liverpool.

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