The clock is ticking on this one so we’ll get right to the point. You should book in for a six course dinner at Six by Nico on Argyle Street before 23rd April. After that date the menu will disappear and you won’t have the opportunity to sample their gastronomic reinvention of the Glasgow chippy. That would be a shame, but it’s all part of the plan.
You see, when chef Nico Simeone was tempted to expand beyond his restaurant on Cleveden Road, 111 by Nico – he clearly likes numbers, and his name – it was to set up a new concept.
Six courses, inspired by a food story, for £25, available for six weeks. Then they adopt a new style of food, a new six course menu, and so it goes.
This is risky. Especially in Glasgow. When we talk to chefs in the city they often remark about how menus are similar across a whole swathe of our restaurants, particularly in the city centre. We are creatures of habit. Chefs are the same – they tend to move in the same circles and are prone to borrowing dishes from each other, or taking a popular special with them when they move to their next kitchen.
So, one of the reasons you should visit this restaurant is that it’s imbued with a spirit of innovation. It’s refreshing and fun. The other reason to mention at this point is the food is pretty exceptional.
For those already recoiling at the thought of a six course set menu that involves dishes themed around steak pie, chips and cheese or deep-fried mars bar – you should relax. Set aside any sniping about pretensions and take a seat for a cavalcade of taste sensations.
The restaurant itself is small but they’ve resisted the temptation to pack in too many tables. On our visit there was a mix of other diners – a family who looked like they’d just finished shopping, a couple of Finnieston mods Instagramming their way through dinner, some business folk and a couple out on a date.
Service is quick. The six plates that make up the menu sail out at a steady pace. Staff are enthusiastic and full of smiles. There’s an element of theatre in the way each dish is presented but it’s not overstated – a casual vibe that contrasts with the show-stopping food.
Our dinner starts with chips & cheese – confit potato, parmesan espuma and mustard crumb
My dining partner and I were major chips & cheese aficionados while we were at university. The best was Mr Chips beside The Garage, although there was another contender off Sauchiehall Street, close to Trash. If we were out for a night at The Union we’d wander towards Best Kebab for their take on this late night staple.
In those days, we could never have imagined we would one day be eating chips & cheese from a teacup in a fine dining restaurant in Finnieston. Mostly because there were virtually no fine dining restaurants in Finnieston back then.
I’ve lapsed into nostalgia but that’s what this menu triggers in many ways. The dishes are unrecognisable compared to what you get in a chippy but there are echoes that remind you of familiar flavours.
It’s comfort food elevated to works of art.
Course two: Scampi, which in this case is scrabster monkfish cheek served on a herb emulsion which is then drizzled with squid ink. It’s served in a shell. On some pebbles. Don’t judge – it’s better than a basket of deep-fried matter in your local.
The small morsels in this dish pack a big flavourful punch. They were devoured with gusto. Also with a glass of Apello Sauvignon Blanc, a Marlborough from New Zealand.
We quickly decide to make this Glasgowist Wine of the Month – it’s crisp, clean, fruity and we’d like another glass please. Incidentally, there’s a wine pairing option with your dinner for £25.
A deconstructed steak pie is next with Speyside beef shin, choucroute onions and tasty cubes of fried brioche
This is punch-the-air, start high-fiving the staff good but we restrain ourselves. We’re only half way through.
Special fish arrives. A delicate piece of Shetland cod, expertly cooked, balanced on a bed of sea vegetables, studded with pickled mussels. There’s crispy pieces of batter on top. It’s a very pretty dish.
This is when we start wishing that some of the courses were mains rather than small plates, which is blatant gluttony, but this was a delight that we would happily have lingered over.
The smoked sausage dish was a combination of pulled pork and black pudding, laid out on apple and celeriac. It was probably closest to it’s chip shop inspiration of all the dishes – and that really wasn’t that close at all. It was a good hearty Glasgow bit of scran.
The meal ended with a bang, not a whimper, when the deep fried mars bar connected dessert arrived. Dulce de leche, chocolate nougat and malt as a welcome sugar rush to finish things off.
The food here can compare favourably with anything being prepared in the city today. You only have to look across the road to see The Gannet who are also serving inspiring small plates in a casual setting. There may be a trend starting.
Visit before this new restaurant hits reset and moves on to another clever menu. As we left, we told chef Nico we’ll be back, and we will. Six by Nico has only just begun to tell interesting stories with food.
1132 Argyle St
0141 334 5661