REVIEW: ‘Mexico’ at Six by Nico
10 months AGOIain Fenwick
Six by Nico in Edinburgh has not been open for very long, but boy has it made an impact on the Edinburgh restaurant scene. Currently in the 3rd of its themes that run every six weeks, Six by Nico has created a buzz that has not been witnessed in Edinburgh for a long time.
We paid a visit on Sunday to enjoy a taste of ‘Mexico’. Six courses awaited us, and as a big fan of Mexican food, I was certainly looking forward to it. As you would expect, the restaurant was very busy, there was a good atmosphere and the layout and lighting provides a comfortable dining environment.
I have been to Six by Nico before, and before I get in to the food aspect of the restaurant, I must point out that the staff are professional, knowledgeable and attentive. It is easy to feel at ease when you have confidence in the front of house. The menu is of course set, so we ordered our drinks, sat back and waited for our Mexican journey to begin.
Up first was ‘Chicken Thigh Taco’, Guacamole, Strawberry Salsa and Whipped Crème Fraiche. All the ingredients at Six by Nico are very fresh and very well cooked. The meat was very delicate and tender, the strawberry salsa was lovely and sweet, and the dollops of guacamole and crème fraiche provided a lovely freshness of flavour. The taco itself was soft and made the dish very easy to eat. It perhaps lacked enough seasoning for my palate, but the dish was well presented and a good start.
It wouldn’t be Mexican in the UK without some Nachos, and that was up next. ‘Nachos’, Heritage Tomato, Housemade Queso Fresco and Avocado Gazpacho. I have eaten Nachos on more occasions than my belly would care to remember, not exactly light on the calories, but if it was then it wouldn’t be right. For me, I like there to be a good whack of melted cheese in every bite. The disappointing aspect of the Nachos at Six by Nico, was that it wasn’t a huge plateful! It was however a very tasty small plate. The nacho was crunchy, the cheese was melted and salty, the dehydrated tomato was crisp and sweet, and the heritage tomato was fresh and juicy. Every part of the dish combined well in flavour and texture and it really was very tasty. It was served cold, which for nachos is a first for me, however, that didn’t take away from the flavour.
On to the 3rd course… ‘Elote’, Sweetcorn Risotto, Green Chorizo and Pickled Red Peppers. Elote is normally served on a stick, so this was really a deconstructed Elote. A little bit of creativity is what Six by Nico is all about. The dominant flavours of the dish were the risotto and the chorizo, with the textures being the real heroes of the dish. The rich flavour of the chorizo was balanced out with the sweetness of the corn and the crunch of the corn kernels, and the sharpness of the pickled peppers provided the acidity that was required.
The fish dish was next, ‘Sea Bass Chilpachole Mixto’ Mussel Escabeche, Crab Mole, Sikil Pak and Orange. I do love Sea Bass, it is a beautifully meaty and buttery fish that thanks to its glorious versatility, can go well with numerous flavours. This particular dish was a brave bit of cooking, there was much going on and so to find the right balance required the right execution. It was my favourite dish of the evening. The bass was cooked beautifully, the mussel escabeche was subtle but carried enough flavour to be noticed, the sikil pak provided a nice texture, maybe a little more of it wouldn’t have gone amiss, and the orange again added a nice tang and sweetness to give you a little extra bite in flavour.
‘Pork Cheek Barbacoa’, Refried Beans, Tomatillo, Rainbow Chard and Crackling. I have to be honest here, this dish didn’t do it for me. That of course doesn’t mean that it wasn’t well cooked. The cheek was cooked perfectly, it fell apart on the touch, it’s just that there weren’t any surprises with it. The flavours all blended in to one and the crackling for me would have been better served as a large wedge rather then sprinkles. The dish needed a bit of crunch and they just didn’t provide it. I have no doubt that others will argue with me as the cooking was faultless, I just didn’t get it.
On to the finale, ‘Chocolate Taco’, Tonka Bean Ganache, Banana Ice Cream and Chipotle & Banana Caramel. I am not normally a dessert person, however I would fight you to the death if there was only one portion of this left in the World. It was a fantastic blend of flavours and textures and was absolutely a fantastic way to end a meal. It’s actually quite tricky for me to describe just how much I enjoyed it. The combination of the crunchy and chocolatey taco with the delicious banana ice cream and moreish caramel was a winner. It didn’t last long. If you like your desserts, then go, it’s as simple as that.
Ok look, I have left one thing out of this review so far, the one component that was glaringly missing in every dish (dessert aside) was heat. There was no spice, no punch you in the face impact of flavours that you would associate with Mexican food. I spoke to the waitress about it and as I had presumed, it was a safe play decision taken by the kitchen. True, not everyone likes spicy food and so I kind of understand the reasoning. However, if you are not a fan of spicy food then you are unlikely to go to a Mexican themed dinner anyway. So unless you market the menu as Mexico without the spice, then no-one is going to guess that you will approach your cooking in that way. Was the food cooked with good fresh ingredients? Yes! Was the execution of the cooking good? Yes! Was it an enjoyable meal? Yes! Is it good value? Absolutely YES! It’s just a shame they didn’t take more of a risk and spice it up a bit. I look forward to going back for the next theme.
Six by Nico, 97 Hanover St, Edinburgh EH2 1DJ
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