Since launching in Leeds last July, Six By Nico has become something of a phenomenon and it’s not hard to see why. Affordable fine dining, slick service, and the anticipation of what’s coming next have struck a chord with guests, who are eager to return time after time.
With each new menu somehow better than the last, how could I resist an invitation to join them down the rabbit hole for their Mad Hatters Tea Party?
Dreaming up an all-new headline-stealing menu every six weeks is no mean feat, but the Six By Nico team has so far made it look a breeze. Their Alice in Wonderland-inspired offering couldn’t be better timed, arriving just as most of us kiss goodbye to dry-Jan in favour of some fun.
It also serves as the perfect Valentine’s menu (especially when we get to dessert), so it’s a win-win situation for them. As always, there’s an option to add on a pre-dinner snack and aperitif cocktail, which we went for.
The snacks were fantastic, perfect for sharing and like everything else on the edible menu, reference the classic Lewis Carroll tale. Have I Gone Mad consists of two ox and comte ‘nuggets’, served with confit garlic and onion and a tangy sweet roasted tomato ketchup. Without doubt, the poshest nuggets I’ve ever tried, you certainly won’t find these down the freezer aisle of your local Tesco.
The Sourdough Bread is great too, especially as it comes served with an addictive roast chicken fat butter. The cocktails on the other hand were a bit of a letdown compared to the creativity found elsewhere on the menu.
Alice’s Gin & Jam Tart (£8.50) featured raspberry, white chocolate liqueur, gin and lemon, and whilst not unpleasant, it was a little weak for my liking and not the rich and creamy tipple I had anticipated given the ingredients.
The Tick Tock (£9) blends Kingston 62 White Rum, bergamot liqueur, lemon and ginger tea, and ginger ale to create a fruity tipple that again, lacked the kind of punch I look for in a cocktail.
Before long, it was time for the show stopping course one Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, which is a brilliant start to the main menu. Our Mushroom Tea was poured at the table by our server and tasted so good. The smoked bacon jam, truffle parmesan royale, pickled walnut & Keens Cheddar scone accompanying the tea were perfect too.
Next up came The White Rabbit, consisting of a delicate chicken and date ballotine, beef fat roasted carrot, tarragon pesto, rabbit bolognese, and carrot ketchup. Another ingenious dish with plenty of flavours going on, all enhanced with the paired Italian sparkling wine.
Course three, entitled Paint the Roses Red, was my dinner guest’s dish of the night, winning her over with its creamy goat’s cheese mousseline, baby beetroot, garden radish, kalamata olive soil, and red apple caramel. I loved this one too, and once again, felt the paired white wine was a great match.
Course four of Eat Me Drink Me was a lighter affair, offering up some beautiful roasted black pollock with a miso glaze, bonito emulsion, white turnip puree, pickled tokyo turnip, and dashi broth. On paper, this is the dish that least appealed to me, but its perfectly orchestrated symphony of light and salty flavours won me over.
The penultimate dish – entitled Off with its Head – may not have been the most adventurous dish on tonight’s menu in terms of surprising ingredients, but it was my personal favourite. The pork belly melted like butter, and the pig head croquette and apple gel really made the dish sing.
The Roasted Scallop add-on (£9) is well worth paying extra for, consisting of two generously plump and sweet scallops with a side-serving of black pudding and pickled celeriac and lovage emulsion.
Now, I’m not a huge dessert guy, but I am a sucker for white chocolate and so the Queen of Hearts really impressed me. The white chocolate mousse, shaped like a love heart of course, was rich and indulgent, and complemented with red velvet cake, raspberries and pecan brittle.
My third and favourite Six By Nico experience, the Mad Hatters Tea Party (available until the 25th February) suggests the team are getting better and better. Service was once again pitch perfect and there wasn’t a single dud on this menu for either me or my guest. I’d skip the aperitif cocktails in favour of something boozier from their menu, but the add-on snacks and course five scallops are well worth adding to your experience.
If you’re looking for somewhere to impress someone special during the month of love, then this is the place to go.
Six By Nico, 9 East Parade, Leeds, LS1 2AJ.