Just before we get to my thoughts on the food at SIX by NICO, I have to mention what I would call the cucumber fiasco or what Mrs Grumpy called Cucumbergate. I mention this because I have a strange reaction to eating cucumber or its constituent parts, very shortly after eating it I tend to throw up, not a pleasant sight in the middle of a restaurant for me or anyone else for that matter.
I mention this because when I booked the table at SIX by NICO on their website booking system it asked about allergy issues and I mentioned this. On arriving at SIX by NICO and being approached by our waiter I again enquired about cucumber being in the dishes and alerted them to my allergy to it. I was told that this particular menu is probably the only one they have ever put together without cucumber in a while so I was in luck, no cucumber. He did suggest that he would check with the chef however just in case. He did not return so I assumed as was well. However, when the second dish of the six arrived at the table I could smell that cucumber odour and asked the lady who seemed to be in charge, if the dish indeed had cucumber in it. She said that it did not. The dish now half eaten she returned to say it had been prepared in the same kitchen as cucumber which to be very honest I was not that much concerned about. One more mouthful of the dish and our waiter returned to say that there was cucumber water in the tomato essence the food was sitting in. I immediately stopped eating the food and spent the rest of the meal expecting the worst and hoping for the best. Both the manager and our waiter apologised more than once for the mistake, dare I say blunder, that might have led to me being very ill. I am still here and writing this blog, so on this occasion alls well that ends well.
So the short version is that SIX by NICO had three chances to avoid the problem and still managed to feed me something that could have made me very ill indeed. I really do dread to think what will happen if they manage to make a similar mistake in the future and manage to feed someone something and it led to anaphylactic shock or worse for someone.
Did they recompense me in some way for this blunder and the feeling of dread they induced in me and Mrs Grumpy, no they did not. Apart from the apology that is. Not good enough; not good enough at all. They have a responsibility and a duty of care for their customers well-being which I feel they failed in miserably.
Ok, so now to the dining experience and the food. The six course theme was Route 66, a dining adventure taking you from Chicago to California.
I have to say that the initial experience of the restaurant was that it was a bit noisy and I don’t mean because it was busy, I mean the very loud soundtrack to accompany the meal. So much so I had bother hearing the people sitting very close to me telling me it was not that loud earlier.
The first course was Chicago apparently, Crisp Tart, with Trapenese Pesto, Goats Cheese and an Olive Tapenade. I thought this dish was well-balanced and rather tasty as did Mrs Grumpy. A fine start to the Route 66 trip.
This was followed by the dish with the offending Cucumbergate scenario. Now on the Great Plains we were served a dish of Buffalo mozzarella, Tomato Essence and Basil Oil. I did eat half of this dish and it was rather pleasant eating until the announcement and discovery of the cucumber, although Mrs Grumpy did like it very much. The sharp amongst you will notice in the photo below that this plate was chipped on the right hand side, twice. Not something I expect in a restaurant – a greasy spoon, maybe.
We moved onto the third course of this American road trip, an American diner Chickpea Pancake, Maple Syrup mayonnaise and Guanciale. Mrs Grumpy and I found the Chickpea Pancake a bit to sour for the overall dish and that it overpowered what should have been the star of the dish, the Guanciale, albeit the sharpness of the green apple helped to offset this.
Dish number four, found us in Texas I believe – 24 Hour Barbecued Brisket, Chilli Bon Bon and Sweetcorn Puree. I noticed people sitting next to me having difficulty trying to cut through the Brisket and hoping that mine would be softer, it wasn’t. The meat was rather tough and more that a little on the dry side. The dressing was far too vinegary and the Chilli Bon Bon tasted like it had been deep-fried in somewhat overused oil, which is a shame because it had a nice flavour otherwise.
Moving on to dish number 5 and now in New Mexico, we were presented with a dish of Sea Bream Taco, Guacamole, Pickled Chilli and Lime. Now this plate of food was the star of the whole meal. Well executed and perfectly balanced, although it’s worth mentioning the near raw red onions on the plate.At this point in our meal I became aware of the fumes from the deep fat fryer hitting my nostrils. I imagined myself sitting in a chippy having my dinner. Not the best image when you are paying £25 a head for your meal.
Rolling on to California for dessert we were presented with a Lemon Tart, Orange Espuma and Red Wine Sorbet. I hear you say red wine sorbet? Yes, and very nice it was too. The second best dish of the entire meal. Mrs Grumpy agreed as she restrained herself from licking the plate. I decided that although I liked the dish my mouth was still aware of the red onions from the previous dish.It is worth mentioning that it is a strange experience to be eating your dessert with the smell of someone eating their Guanciale on one side and on the other someone eating Sea Bream; it is most off-putting indeed. But then the tables are very close together.
Overall the food was rather nice and we enjoyed it. Is it worthy to be Gosh Noshed? Sadly not on this occasion. Our waiter Tom was always very attentive, not quite a Food Champion due to his late news about the cucumber in the dish I had already half eaten. Maybe not his fault, but still not a Food Champion for that reason.
Will I go back and eat there when they change the menu? Maybe. Will they let me back in, who knows. Maybe a disguise is in order next time. Tam Shepherd’s here I come.