On a cold winter’s evening when you can quite literally see your breath in the air and everyone is scuttling home from work to escape the freezing temperatures, Six by Nico has a welcoming glow. Located on Spring Gardens, this is the much-anticipated restaurant from chef Nico Simeone.
Once inside, we’re greeted with an equally warm welcome from front of house staff. It’s a beautiful restaurant too; think cosy wood panelling, atmospheric lighting and elegant décor. I’m a big Audrey Hepburn fan so I was delighted to see a framed retro pop art print of the icon taking centre stage above one of the booths.
Six By Nico is a restaurant concept from the talented and creative chef who’s made a name for himself throughout the UK with six-week rotating menus. Recently launched in Manchester, The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party is a tasting menu inspired by the eccentric world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. It’s making all the right noises... not least because it offers value for the quality of food served, with six dishes coming in at £29 and £26 for the complimentary wine pairing.
Each course has been created using a line from the quirky and iconic children’s book. We started our fall down the culinary rabbit hole with Through the Looking Glass (£6); an aperitif presented as a little bottle of red potion to add to a delicious gin and Elderflower mix. The result? A magical cocktail and the perfect start to our meal.
Eat Me Drink Me is next; a mushroom consommé poured at the table by our server and presented alongside two melt-in-the-mouth parmesan and truffle empire biscuits. Simeone’s playful side is centre stage for the Cheshire Copy Cat - which looks like an artfully displayed satsuma, yet is, in fact, a clever chicken liver parfait with orange jelly served alongside sourdough toast. Almost too good to eat.
Steak Tartare? is another mischievously deceptive dish. It looks exactly like a steak tartare with a fresh egg yolk yet is, in fact, a tomato tapenade paired with yoghurt yolk and goats cheese pannacotta. My absolute favourite in both looks and taste is undoubtedly Checkmate. A beautifully fresh piece of sole served with an intense black garlic emulsion, cauliflower and lemon verbena foam, it's cooked perfectly.
Followed by a sumptuous pork fillet, carrot and spiced prune number titled Off With His Head, things are going superbly. Nothing here would be out of place on a Michelin menu. Ending on yet another stunning plate, the Queen of Hearts is a light, yet lip-smackingly sweet combination of red velvet cake, nutty pecan brittle, smooth white chocolate and tangy raspberry. Now that’s a tasting menu.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Quite often, menus based on themes can be gimmicky... but this six-course menu is anything but. Six by Nico Manchester has absolutely triumphed with The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Imaginative cooking that brings a smile to your face and a tickle to your taste buds? I think Lewis Carroll would have approved.