The mystic world of fairy-tales have never failed in their spellbinding mission, to transport us back to our innocent childhood years, where we sat mesmerised by Belle and her resplendent yellow ball gown as she danced with the Beast, or squealed with excitement as James escaped on the giant peach, from the wicked aunt Sponge and aunt Spiker.
Serenading the public via a magical culinary voyage, is the Glaswegian gem Six by Nico, born in 2017 and famed for their six weekly evolving menu concept, which embraces a toothsome fest of six courses borrowing inspirational themes from global favourite fares, indulgent guilty pleasures and, of course, fantastical memories.
The brainchild behind the playful notion lies with chef Nico Simeone, who captured his native Scottish crowd’s taste buds with an ever changing tasting menu, showcasing delectable yet affordable fine dining, rounded off with an optional pairing of A-1 grade wines.
This quirky gourmet inception has since experienced a multitude of success stories spanning across Manchester and Liverpool, not forgetting the nation’s capital of the eclectic neighbourhood, London’s Fitzrovia and, most recently, the financial giants’ sanctum of Canary Wharf. Here, I rubbed shoulders with the sleek city suits, whilst being swept away in a nostalgic state of mind to sample Nico’s magical ‘Once Upon A Time’ menu.
Sitting pretty with a chic and shiny 30-seat terrace minutes from Canary Wharf station, this latest city offering stands larger than its London sibling with around 100 covers. Chocolate wooden beams, glistening white ceilings and loosely strung large bulbs were the order of the day, alongside an aromatically fresh scent enveloping the air, which had been selected from Six by Nico’s own signature fragrance collection.
A contemporary setup of an open kitchen and serving hatch revealed a stage of cooking showmanship, creating an intimately immersive atmosphere which kept the diners and yours truly consistently engrossed in the spectacle between each course.
Attentions soon turned to the beautifully striking menu, created to a storybook design in shades of midnight blue and gold. Not content with his generosity to provide diners a grand, theatrical banquet at a refreshingly affordable fee, Nico continues to display his bounteous streak with step by step recipes and techniques, probing you to channel your inner kitchen sorcery and continue on with this connoisseur adventure.
The evening of indulgent cooking wizardry weaved its spell with a cocktail soirée Mary Poppins would have revelled in, starting with A Spoonful Of Sugar, a tantalisingly, sweet and sour aperitif concoction of spiced rum, cherry cordial and sherbet. Accompanying the sparkling pink potion was Fantastic Mr Fox’s moreish plate of mini savoury doughnuts, lavishly filled with a light yet flavourful duck mousse and crunchy gingerbread toppings, not neglecting the serving of warm bread with lightly salted, creamy butter.
Appetite whetted, it was the turn of Oliver Twist to deliver with the first course of the Swedish Hasselbeck recipe; a slow baked, thinly sliced confit baby potato cooked perfectly soft and fluffy, accompanied by a cream based, velvet soup like mousse brimming with melted butter, and hints of wild garlic which left me almost asking for more.
Hot on Oliver’s heels was the lovable Paddington Bear and his melt in the mouth, slow cooked ox cheek ragu topped on a crispy bruschetta. The rich, savoury beef flavour notes from the ragu made a merry match with the citrusy orange tang from the helping of shredded marmalade, completed with a little luxuriant decadence of black truffle shavings.
Whilst the reader of books, Matilda’s carrot course left me questioning the unusual flavour mashup, due to the Indian tandoori spice marinade overpowered by the helping of green pesto sauce, our World Champion Danny steered the feast back on track. A delicately glistening helping of flaky trout arrived served on a refreshing bed of herby dill sauce, and dotted with little moulds of tangy bergamot gel to cut through the richness.
Drawing the curtain on the savoury adventures was the ugly duckling, and his not so ugly offering of a duck leg Boulangère cooked to perfectly pink perfection, presented with a sweetish artichoke salsify. A light dousing of intense smooth jus proved the ideal accompaniment against the strong gamey moistness from the duck, as did the golden brown potato pave with its fine layers of piping hot crispness.
For the vegetarian offerings, Goldilocks leads us down the temptation path to indulge in the three bears’ banquet of winter truffle and pearl barley porridge, whilst Cinderella takes great pleasure in inviting us to the ball to feast on a plateful of soft gnocchi, mixed with goats’ curd and earthy pumpkin.
No childhood is ever complete without the marvel of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The epicurean odyssey was concluded with a glass dome, which unmasked a truly enchanting, dainty scarlet rose dessert loaded with a satin like mascarpone cream. The amalgamation of sugar sweetness from the mascarpone, touches of white chocolate and rose floral perfume sung in harmony with the mild sharpness of rhubarb, and smidgens of sharp zesty lemon to cleanse out the palate and make for a joyous ending to this gastronomical chapter.
In a nutshell
The Once Upon A Time anthology will be crusading Nico’s kitchens until the 13th March, after which we will be whisked across the seas to discover modern delicacies, entwined with the age old traditions of Ancient Rome through sweet succulent mussels from the Bay of Naples, and the Grand Feast of AD14 of succulent pork belly, and deep braised fennel.
Nico has, once again, waved his wondrous wand and enthralled us with a foodie chronicle of curious sights, enlightening smells, and extravagant tastes to bring us a moment of visionary cooking wonder and escapism, and live happily ever after in our magical kitchens.
The six course tasting menu comes at £37, with the option of a matching wines selection for an additional £33.
Address: 6 Chancellor Passage, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5EA
Telephone : 0203 912 3334