On a Wednesday night in Manchester during a local lockdown, town was eerily quiet (as you’d expect…)  But one restaurant on Spring Gardens was absolutely buzzing with excited diners, keen to try The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico.

The Six by Nico Concept

It’s a simple concept that has kept foodie fans coming back, time and time again.  Having first launched the idea in Glasgow in 2017, Scottish-Italian chef Nico Simeone creates a new six course menu every six weeks based on a new theme with an optional wine pairing available.  At just £29 for the tasting menu and £26 for the wine pairings, it’s a very reasonable offering for a unique gastro experience.  Previous themes have included ‘The Chippie’ (featuring deep fried Mars Bar), a ‘Picnic’ menu and a 70’s style experience.

The Six by Nico Sicily Menu

The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester
The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester

Running until Sunday 18th October, the Sicilian menu reflects Nico’s time spent in Palermo with the six courses taking us on a journey through the authentic tastes and flavours you can expect from a cuisine which is rich in heritage.   Shaped by Greek, French, Arabian, Spanish and North African influences, each dish offers up a taste sensation from arancini to porchetta.

The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester - Restaurant Interior
The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester – Restaurant Interior

The ‘Sicily’ Experience

With Six by Nico of course adhering to social distancing rules, we had a spacious window table and a great view of the swanky bistro style restaurant, while the staff were incredibly warm and friendly, despite wearing masks for their full shift.

The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester - Course One Arancini
The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester – Course One Arancini

With snacks like focaccia bread, olives and salami to start, we decided to skip the pleasantries and go straight in for the main event.  Course one featured three arancini balls with different fillings – my favourite of which was the smoked mozzarella and red pepper with strong robust flavours despite its dainty size.

The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester - Course Two Sicilian Lamb
The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester – Course Two Sicilian Lamb

Sicilian lamb came next – a juicy chunk of tenderness accompanied by a punchy olive tapenade, a smoky rich aubergine caponata and a hint of sweetness courtesy of the smudge of lemon gel.  Paired with a delicious Sicilan Feudo Maccari Nere Nero d’Avola, this lively cherry / berry red was a perfect match for the meat.

The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester - Course Three Hazelnut Ragu
The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester – Course Three Hazelnut Ragu

Hazelnut ragu followed which was a really pretty dish – thick ribbons of freshly made saffron pappardelle swirling around in rich and creamy  aged parmesan sauce.  Another Feudo Maccari wine was the pairing for this third course, with floral and tropical notes and a crisp citrus finish.

The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester - Course Four Seabass
The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester – Course Four Seabass

And insta-worthy seabass arrived next, again looking very fancy!  I sometimes find seabass a little lacking in taste, but the combination of the sweet/sharp caper raisin dressing with a punchy cherry tomato puttanesca was divine.  Contrasting textures came courtesy of the fergola (a nutty Sardinian cross between pasta and cous cous) with a crispy baton of cavalo nero balanced perfectly on top.  Probably my favourite dish..

The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester - Course Five Porchetta
The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester – Course Five Porchetta

..Or at least I thought that until the porchetta arrived.  Course five is everything I love about a good, hearty plate of food.  Porchetta itself is a traditional Italian dish – suckling pig, roasted, seasoned with herbs and garlic and served as a roll which is then sliced.  The meat was juicy and succulent, topped with a delicate tasting pistachio crumb. Pickled fennel added some zing, while the mustarda delivered a hit of fruity, spicy, tang.  A Vino Lauria, Frappato red despite its notes of red fruit, gave way to earthier, deeper notes when paired with the food.

The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester - Course Six Sicilian Lemon Tart
The Sicily Menu at Six By Nico Manchester – Course Six Sicilian Lemon Tart

And finally, just as we were thinking it’s impossible to consume any more food, the Sicilian lemon tart arrived.  A beautifully light, well balanced dessert with a healthy dollop of crème fraiche on the top.  The perfect end to a perfect eve.

The Six by Nico dining experience is guaranteed to be a pleasant and memorable one.  Each dish has been carefully thought out and really does make you feel like you’re fully immersed in the theme.  What’s more, when you go back in six weeks, a new menu will make you feel like you’re stepping into a brand new restaurant, while the exceptionally reasonable prices are exactly that for a night of fine dining.

With the restaurant industry facing difficult challenges as a result of the pandemic, now has never been a better time to show support.  The Sicily menu runs until Sunday 18th October.  Click here to book, or here to read our review of more of Manchester’s best restaurants.