It’s all in the name – ever changing, very affordable, six course tasting menus from the mind of Chef Nico Simeone.
It’s been an astonishingly fast journey for Nico Simeone. From his first restaurant in Glasgow in 2015, he’s now knocking it for six all over the UK.
The concept is simple; an affordable, innovative, tasting menu of six courses that changes every six weeks.
Tasting menus? I hear you cry. Surely no one wants those anymore? In the wrong hands they had become a byword for a culinary theatre of cruelty, one where demonic chefs crazed with self importance battered you with course after course until you became angry and desperate to escape.
In theory though, a menu of innovative small plates cleverly thought through is a good idea if kept sensible in length (I once had a twenty four course menu that was unforgettable for all the wrong reasons), they are easily eaten and enjoyed.
So Six it is and for the opening six weeks In his new Canary Wharf restaurant Simeone has brought back his original hit The Chippie first served in Glasgow in 2017. It’s a meal themed around fish and chips, pies, and a deep fried Mars bar.
First though we add to our bill by trying an aperitif called Seaside 75. To a glass of Earl Grey, Prosecco and lemon juice we stir in samphire and sea salt. This causes the glass to froth like those chemistry lessons where you added baking powder to vinegar. A nice bit of fun and a refreshing drink.
Also off-piste is what’s called ‘a snack’. Superb sourdough bread with rich shellfish butter that’s as iron grey as a battleship, plus cannelloni made from filo pastry and stuffed with salty taramasalata and topped with lemon gel and a smattering of caviar. Don’t try eating the pebbles, they’re real.
Curry sauce is not a chippie thing in the soft south, but north of Midland Keynes they can’t get enough. First course proper is Chips & Cheese – potato terrine cut into a chip and topped with a curry oil mayo that has the Proustian aroma of 1970s curries (if you’re old enough to remember those, that is).
A bowl of foamed Parmesan is where you dip your chip, a powerful and rich sauce that we both ended up scraping out the bowl with the desperation born from knowing that it was coming to an end.
Of course you need battered fish in a chippie, and it came as a ‘scampi’, but made with a chunk of monkfish cheek. Once upon a time monkfish was regarded as a cheap version of scampi, my mother used to warn of restaurants that tried passing it off. Hard to believe now with monkfish being more expensive.
A rich dill and butter sauce set off the cheek, along with a tangy gribiche sauce (posh tartare) and peas, which I thought were a bit starchy and undercooked.
A good chippie always has a few pies in its warming section, usually wrapped in plastic and containing meat whose origin it’s best not to speculate on. Nico’s take on this is a mini jewel of steak pie made from unimpeachable Speyside beef shin accompanied by mushroom duxelle and an onion ketchup that hints at HP but soars above it.
This is just the right size; any larger a portion and I’d have been done for. As it is, I am soon refreshed and ready for the ‘Big One’.
The Fish Supper is a lovely chunk of Shetland cod cosied up with sharp and briny pickled mussels, a remarkable confit fennel and crisp, salty samphire. A beer emulsion brings it all together.
The final savoury almost tips me over. It’s a heavy one that picks up on the theme of the dubious sausages and frankfurters usually found in a chippie, but of course is all high quality here. It’s a trio of porky bits with apple, black pudding, salt baked celeriac and a sharp choucroute to cut the fats.
It’s very good but I am glad it’s the last of the mains, I am flagging now, so dessert ahoy. And what else could it be but ‘deep fried Mars Bar’.
Did this dish ever exist, or was the story of how a chip shop in Scotland made them in the mid-1990s just an English joke about the Scottish diet? Who knows, but it’s a great story and here is its 2021 interpretation.
It’s not of course a real Mars Bar chez Nico, but a slab of chocolate pavé topped off with a deep fried dough ball and dished on a bed of chocolate soil (hello Heston) alongside a quenelle of Irn-Bru sorbet. Irn-Bru for those not familiar with it, tastes rather like Tizer although Scottish people get rather upset when you say that.
It’s a great finale to a great meal which comes in, without the extras we had, at a remarkable £37. When you think about what cod and chips cost in a chippie these days, that’s a real steal.
We also had the matched wines for an extra £33. Great choices, lucidly but not boringly explained each time by the charming staff.
The look of the restaurant, the cool staff and the superlative cooking make this one of London’s best deals for an affordable real treat. Okay it’s in Canary Wharf, and not everyone works there, but it’s a simple and short ride from central London.
Fish lunch or fish supper, it’s your choice, but hurry as the menu changes on September 17th.
Six by Nico Canary Wharf
6 Chancellor Passage,
www.sixbynico.co.uk | IG: @sixbynicocanarywharf